Friday, January 9, 2009
Coins were initially minted from the preferred metal and in stable political regimes, the introduction of a paper form of governmental I.O.U. during the Middle Ages also gained acceptance. This type of I.O.U. was introduced more successfully through force than through persuasion and is now the basis of today’s modern currencies.
Before the first World war, most Central banks supported their currencies with convertibility to gold. Paper money could always be exchanged for gold. However, for this type of gold exchange, there was not necessarily a Centrals bank need for full coverage of the government's currency reserves. This did not occur very often, however when a group mindset fostered this disastrous notion of converting back to gold in mass, panic resulted in so-called "Run on banks " The combination of a greater supply of paper money without the gold to cover led to devastating inflation and resulting political instability.
In order to protect local national interests, increased foreign exchange controls were introduced to prevent market forces from punishing monetary irresponsibility.
Near the end of WWII, The Bretton Woods agreement was reached on the initiative of the USA in July 1944. The conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire rejected John Maynard Keynes suggestion for a new world reserve currency in favor of a system built on the US Dollar. International institutions such as the IMF, The World Bank and GATT were created in the same period as the emerging victors of WWII searched for a way to avoid the destabilizing monetary crises leading to the war. The Bretton Woods agreement resulted in a system of fixed exchange rates that reinstated The Gold Standard partly, fixing the USD at $35.00 per ounce of Gold and fixing the other main currencies to the dollar, initially intended to be on a permanent basis.
The Bretton Woods system came under increasing pressure as national economies moved in different directions during the 1960’s. A number of realignments held the system alive for a long time but eventually Bretton Woods collapsed in the early 1970’s following president Nixon's suspension of the gold convertibility in August 1971. The dollar was not any longer suited as the sole international currency at a time when it was under severe pressure from increasing US budget and trade deficits.
The last few decades have seen foreign exchange trading develop into the worlds largest global market. Restrictions on capital flows have been removed in most countries, leaving the market forces free to adjust foreign exchange rates according to their perceived values.
In Europe, the idea of fixed exchange rates had by no means died. The European Economic Community introduced a new system of fixed exchange rates in 1979, the European Monetary System. This attempt to fix exchange rates met with near extinction in 1992-93, when built-up economic pressures forced devaluations of a number of weak European currencies. The quest continued in Europe for currency stability with the 1991 signing of The Maastricht treaty. This was to not only fix exchange rates but also actually replace many of them with the Euro in 2002.
Today, Europe has embraced the Euro in 12 participating countries. The physical introduction of the Euro on January 1, 2002 saw the old countries currencies made obsolete on July 1, 2002.
In Asia, the lack of sustainability of fixed foreign exchange rates has gained new relevance with the events in South East Asia in the latter part of 1997, where currency after currency was devalued against the US dollar, leaving other fixed exchange rates in particular in South America also looking very vulnerable.
While commercial companies have had to face a much more volatile currency environment in recent years, investors and financial institutions have discovered a new playground. The size of the FOREX market now dwarfs any other investment market.
It is estimated that more than USD 1,200 Billion are traded every day, that is the same amount as almost 40 times the daily USD volume on the American NASDAQ market.
What is traded in the Forex market?
The instrument traded by Forex traders and investors are currency pairs. A currency pair is the exchange rate of one currency over another. The most traded currency pairs are:
USD/CHF: Swiss franc
USD/CAD: Canadian dollar
These six currency pairs generate up to 85% of the overall volume in the Forex market. So, for instance, if a trader goes long on the Euro, she or he is simultaneously buying the EUR and selling the USD. If the same trader goes short or sells the Aussie, she or he is simultaneously selling the AUD and buying the USD.
The first currency of each currency pair is referred as the base currency, while second currency is referred as the counter or quote currency. Each currency pair is expressed in units of the counter currency needed to get one unit of the base currency. If the price or quote of the EUR/USD is 1.2545, it means that 1.2545 US dollars are needed to get one EUR.
All currency pairs are commonly quoted with a bid and ask price. The bid (always lower than the ask) is the price your broker is willing to buy at, thus the trader should sell at this price. The ask is the price your broker is willing to sell at, thus the trader should buy at this price.
EUR/USD 1.2645/48 or 1.2645/8
The bid price is 1.2645
The ask price is 1.2648
A pip is the minimum incremental move a currency pair can make. A pip stands for price interest point. A move in the EUR/USD from 1.2545 to 1.2560 equals 15 pips. And a move in the USD/JPY from 112.35 to 113.40 equals 105 pips.
Margin Trading (leverage)
In contrast with other financial markets where you require the full deposit of the amount traded, in the Forex market you require only a margin deposit. The rest will be granted by your broker.
The leverage provided by some brokers goes up to 400:1. This means that you require only 1/400 or .25% in balance to open a position (plus the floating gains/losses.) Most brokers offer 100:1, where every trader requires 1% in balance to open a position.
The standard lot size in the Forex market is $100,000 USD.
For instance, a trader wants to get long one lot in EUR/USD and he or she is using 100:1 leverage.
To open such position, he or she requires 1% in balance or $1,000 USD.
Of course it is not advisable to open a position with such limited funds in our trading balance. If the trade goes against our trader, the position is to be closed by the broker. This takes us to our next important term.
A margin call occurs when the balance of the trading account falls below the maintenance margin (capital required to open one position, 1% when the leverage used is 100:1, 2% when leverage used is 50:1, and so on.) At this moment, the broker sells off (or buys back in the case of short positions) all your trades, leaving the trader "theoretically" with the maintenance margin.
Most of the time margin calls occur when money management is not properly applied.
How are the mechanics of a Forex trade?
The trader, after an extensive analysis, decides there is a higher probability of the British pound to go up. He or she decides to go long risking 30 pips and having a target (reward) of 60 pips. If the market goes against our trader he/she will lose 30 pips, on the other hand, if the market goes in the intended way, he or she will gain 60 pips. The actual quote for the pound is 1.8524/27, 4 pips spread. Our trader gets long at 1.8530 (ask). By the time the market gets to either our target (called take profit order) or our risk point (called stop loss level) we will have to sell it at the bid price (the price our broker is willing to buy our position back.) In order to make 40 pips, our take profit level should be placed at 1.8590 (bid price.) If our target gets hit, the market ran 64 pips (60 pips plus the 4 pip spread.) If our stop loss level is hit, the market ran 30 pips against us.
It’s very important to understand every aspect of forex trading. Start first from the very basic concepts, then move on to more complex issues such as Forex trading systems, trading psychology, trade and risk management, and so on. And make sure you master every single aspect before adventuring in a live trading account.
TSX expects most of its individual listed issuers to experience a reduction in sustaining fees in 2009, due to lower market capitalization. Overall, this reduction will be partially offset by an estimated $3M to $4M aggregate increase in sustaining fees, as a result of the introduction of the new schedule. The estimated increase in sustaining fees is based on market capitalization as of November 4, 2008. Listing fees at all major exchanges were reviewed to ensure TSX fees remain competitive with those marketplaces.
The amendments to the listing fee schedule include changes to the base and maximum sustaining fees for corporate issuers (variable fee rates remain unchanged); the fees payable for corporate reorganizations, which include income trust conversions; and the maximum fees payable for security-based compensation arrangements (minimum fees and the variable fee rates remain unchanged). Original listing and additional listing fees (other than for security-based compensation arrangements) remain unchanged.
USDCHF – Recent US Dollar/Swiss Franc price action is a testament to the effectiveness of Speculative Sentiment Index-based currency forecasts. Forex trading crowds had remained heavily net-short the USD/CHF since July, and the pair went on to mount an impressive multi-month rally. Most recently, that same crowd capitulated and actually went net-long the USD/CHF near the 1.2000 mark. The US Dollar subsequently went on to post its biggest monthly loss against the Swiss Franc in history—incredible by any standards. Looking to very short-term trading, the crowd is currently net-short the pair, with short positions outnumbering longs by 1.08 to 1. Such a flip gives us reason to look for a reversal, but a sharp drop in open interest gives us little conviction in our forecast. Our forex trading signals previously went short the USD/CHF for sizeable profits, but the strategies now hold a weaker bias.
Forex Positioning in the US Dollar/Canadian Dollar
USDCAD – The ratio of long to short positions in the USDCAD stands at 1.07 as nearly 52% of traders are long. Yesterday, the ratio was at -1.05 as 51% of open positions were short. In detail, long positions are 1.7% higher than yesterday and 50.6% weaker since last week. Short positions are 8.9% lower than yesterday and 11.1% stronger since last week. Open interest is 3.7% weaker than yesterday and 56.7% below its monthly average. The SSI is a contrarian indicator and signals more USDCAD losses. Tell us and other traders what you think in our forex forum.
How do we interpret the SSI? The FXCM SSI is based on proprietary customer flow information and is designed to recognize price trend breaks and reversals in the four most popularly traded currency pairs. The absolute number of the ratio itself represents the amount by which longs exceed shorts or vice versa. For example if the EURUSD ratio is 2.55, long customer orders exceed short orders by a ratio of 2.55 to 1. Conceptually similar to contrarian analyses using the CFTC IMM open position data or COT Report, the SSI provides an alternative approach that is both more timely and accurate in forecasting currency price movement. The SSI is a contrarian indicator that tells you how the market is weighted and where the trend may head. More long positions don't necessary suggest more confidence in the direction of the current trend. In general, when traders start having adverse movements against their position, many tend to increase the size of their position with the purpose to average down their entry price in one last attempt to recover from previous losses. However, the higher the number of short orders in a bull market the more dangerous is to take additional shorts because many of those traders who just entered the markets are also leaving their protective stop losses just above the current price action.
In view of the value already tied up in holdings of U.S. government paper, it would take a decisive -- and probably foolhardy -- shift for the world's largest reserve holders in Asia or Latin America to transfer significant holdings of present reserves out of the dollar and into the euro.
China says its reserves are continuing to rise, with the chief economist at the National Bureau of Statistics telling Reuters they would exceed $2 trillion by the end of the year. Beijing [will] not resort to "panic selling" of reserves, instead maintaining a "prudent and responsible" stance.
Courage Under Stressful Conditions When the Outcome is Uncertain
All the foreign exchange trading knowledge in the world is not going to help, unless you have the nerve to buy and sell currencies and put your money at risk. As with the lottery “You gotta be in it to win it”. Trust me when I say that the simple task of hitting the buy or sell key is extremely difficult to do when your own real money is put at risk.
You will feel anxiety, even fear. Here lies the moment of truth. Do you have the courage to be afraid and act anyway? When a fireman runs into a burning building I assume he is afraid but he does it anyway and achieves the desired result. Unless you can overcome or accept your fear and do it anyway, you will not be a successful trader.
However, once you learn to control your fear, it gets easier and easier and in time there is no fear. The opposite reaction can become an issue – you’re overconfident and not focused enough on the risk you're taking.
Both the inability to initiate a trade, or close a losing trade can create serious psychological issues for a trader going forward. By calling attention to these potential stumbling blocks beforehand, you can properly prepare prior to your first real trade and develop good trading habits from day one.
Start by analyzing yourself. Are you the type of person that can control their emotions and flawlessly execute trades, oftentimes under extremely stressful conditions? Are you the type of person who’s overconfident and prone to take more risk than they should? Before your first real trade you need to look inside yourself and get the answers. We can correct any deficiencies before they result in paralysis (not pulling the trigger) or a huge loss (overconfidence). A huge loss can prematurely end your trading career, or prolong your success until you can raise additional capital.
The difficulty doesn’t end with “pulling the trigger”. In fact what comes next is equally or perhaps more difficult. Once you are in the trade the next hurdle is staying in the trade. When trading foreign exchange you exit the trade as soon as possible after entry when it is not working. Most people who have been successful in non-trading ventures find this concept difficult to implement.
For example, real estate tycoons make their fortune riding out the bad times and selling during the boom periods. The problem with trying to adapt a 'hold on until it comes back' strategy in foreign exchange is that most of the time the currencies are in long-term persistent, directional trends and your equity will be wiped out before the currency comes back.
The other side of the coin is staying in a trade that is working. The most common pitfall is closing out a winning position without a valid reason. Once again, fear is the culprit. Your subconscious demons will be scaring you non-stop with questions like “what if news comes out and you wind up with a loss”. The reality is if news comes out in a currency that is going up, the news has a higher probability of being positive than negative (more on why that is so in a later article).
So your fear is just a baseless annoyance. Don’t try and fight the fear. Accept it. Have a laugh about it and then move on to the task at hand, which is determining an exit strategy based on actual price movement. As Garth says in Waynesworld “Live in the now man”. Worrying about what could be is irrational. Studying your chart and determining an objective exit point is reality based and rational.
Another common pitfall is closing a winning position because you are bored with it; its not moving. In Football, after a star running back breaks free for a 50-yard gain, he comes out of the game temporarily for a breather. When he reenters the game he is a serious threat to gain more yards – this is indisputable. So when your position takes a breather after a winning move, the next likely event is further gains – so why close it?
If you can be courageous under fire and strategically patient, foreign exchange trading may be for you. If you’re a natural gunslinger and reckless you will need to tone your act down a notch or two and we can help you make the necessary adjustments. If putting your money at risk makes you a nervous wreck its because you lack the knowledge base to be confident in your decision making.
Patience to Gain Knowledge through Study and Focus
Many new traders believe all you need to profitably trade foreign currencies are charts, technical indicators and a small bankroll. Most of them blow up (lose all their money) within a few weeks or months; some are initially successful and it takes as long as a year before they blow up. A tiny minority with good money management skills, patience, and a market niche go on to be successful traders. Armed with charts, technical indicators, and a small bankroll, the chance of succeeding is probably 500 to 1.
To increase your chances of success to near certainty requires knowledge; acquiring knowledge takes hard work, study, dedication and focus. Compile your knowledge base without taking any shortcuts, thereby assuring a solid foundation to build upon.