Forex trading is conducted in the foreign exchange market, otherwise referred to as the forex or FX market. This is the largest financial market in the world, with an estimated daily average turnover well in excess of US$1 trillion. A foreign exchange rate is the relationship between two currencies, which means the amount of one currency that would be required to buy (or sell) one unit of another currency. Currencies are quoted in pairs, e.g. Euro/US$ = EUR/USD, US$/Japanese Yen = USD/JPY, etc. Forex trading involves a foreign exchange transaction, defined as the simultaneous buying of one currencyandselling of another currency.
The foreign exchange market entered a new phase in 1971 when the Bretton Woods accord, which was characterized by fixed forex trading rates, was abandoned. This led to a new forex trading system of floating rates and opened a new world in foreign exchange.
Forex trading is said to be a 24-hour, 5 day a week market, starting each day in Wellington, NZ and then moving around the globe as thebusiness day commences in the next financial center. This rotation includes Tokyo, London,and New York.This allows foreign exchange market participants to react to news, whether it be economic political or social, 24 hours per day. Unlike other markets, such as stocks or futures, forex trading does not involve a central exchange and is considered to be an over the counter market known as the interbank market. Most forex transactions are conducted between two counterparties via the telephone or over an electronic network, such as the internet.
Forex trading, once the province of commercial, investment and central banks has evolved over the years as other players took on a greater role in foreign exchange. This has seen forex trading evolve as multi-national companies, hedge funds, fund managers, individual speculators and private investors took on a greater influence. The evolution of the internet has further opened forex trading to the independent currency trader who can follow the market on a 24-hour basis and trade foreign exchange online.
Factors that have attracted the retail currency traders to forex trading include the ability to trade 24 hours, 5 days per week, a high level of foreign exchange market liquidity, the ability to benefit in both bull and bear markets, narrow bid-offered spreads by historical standards,low margin requirements and general market volatility.
On the other hand, anyone considering forex trading should first carefully evaluate the risks beforehand. Jay Meisler, a partner of Global-View.com, says one problem of trading with too-high leverage is that one piece of surprise news can wipe out one's capital. "Those who treat forex trading as if they were in a casino will see the same long-term results as when they go to Las Vegas," he says, adding: "If you treat forex trading like a business, including proper money management, you have a better chance of success." - Newsweek International, March 15, 2004