FOREX 101: Make Money with Currency Trading

For those unfamiliar with the term, FOREX (FOReign EXchange market), refers to an international exchange market where currencies are bought and sold. The Foreign Exchange Market that we see today began in the 1970’s, when free exchange rates and floating currencies were introduced. In such an environment only participants in the market determine the price of one currency against another, based upon supply and demand for that currency.

FOREX is a somewhat unique market for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of the few markets in which it can be said with very few qualifications that it is free of external controls and that it cannot be manipulated. It is also the largest liquid financial market, with trade reaching between 1 and 1.5 trillion US dollars a day. With this much money moving this fast, it is clear why a single investor would find it near impossible to significantly affect the price of a major currency. Furthermore, the liquidity of the market means that unlike some rarely traded stock, traders are able to open and close positions within a few seconds as there are always willing buyers and sellers.

Another somewhat unique characteristic of the FOREX money market is the variance of its participants. Investors find a number of reasons for entering the market, some as longer term hedge investors, while others utilize massive credit lines to seek large short term gains. Interestingly, unlike blue-chip stocks, which are usually most attractive only to the long term investor, the combination of rather constant but small daily fluctuations in currency prices, create an environment which attracts investors with a broad range of strategies.

How FOREX Works

Transactions in foreign currencies are not centralized on an exchange, unlike say the NYSE, and thus take place all over the world via telecommunications. Trade is open 24 hours a day from Sunday afternoon until Friday afternoon (00:00 GMT on Monday to 10:00 pm GMT on Friday). In almost every time zone around the world, there are dealers who will quote all major currencies. After deciding what currency the investor would like to purchase, he or she does so via one of these dealers (some of which can be found online). It is quite common practice for investors to speculate on currency prices by getting a credit line (which are available to those with capital as small as $500), and vastly increase their potential gains and losses. This is called marginal trading.

Marginal Trading

Marginal trading is simply the term used for trading with borrowed capital. It is appealing because of the fact that in FOREX investments can be made without a real money supply. This allows investors to invest much more money with fewer money transfer costs, and open bigger positions with a much smaller amount of actual capital. Thus, one can conduct relatively large transactions, very quickly and cheaply, with a small amount of initial capital. Marginal trading in an exchange market is quantified in lots. The term “lot” refers to approximately $100,000, an amount which can be obtained by putting up as little as 0.5% or $500.

EXAMPLE: You believe that signals in the market are indicating that the British Pound will go up against the US Dollar. You open 1 lot for buying the Pound with a 1% margin at the price of 1.49889 and wait for the exchange rate to climb. At some point in the future, your predictions come true and you decide to sell. You close the position at 1.5050 and earn 61 pips or about $405. Thus, on an initial capital investment of $1,000, you have made over 40% in profits. (Just as an example of how exchange rates change in the course of a day, an average daily change of the Euro (in Dollars) is about 70 to 100 pips.)

When you decide to close a position, the deposit sum that you originally made is returned to you and a calculation of your profits or losses is done. This profit or loss is then credited to your account.

Investment Strategies: Technical Analysis and Fundamental Analysis

The two fundamental strategies in investing in FOREX are Technical Analysis or Fundamental Analysis. Most small and medium sized investors in financial markets use Technical Analysis. This technique stems from the assumption that all information about the market and a particular currency’s future fluctuations is found in the price chain. That is to say, that all factors which have an effect on the price have already been considered by the market and are thus reflected in the price. Essentially then, what this type of investor does is base his/her investments upon three fundamental suppositions. These are: that the movement of the market considers all factors, that the movement of prices is purposeful and directly tied to these events, and that history repeats itself. Someone utilizing technical analysis looks at the highest and lowest prices of a currency, the prices of opening and closing, and the volume of transactions. This investor does not try to outsmart the market, or even predict major long term trends, but simply looks at what has happened to that currency in the recent past, and predicts that the small fluctuations will generally continue just as they have before.

A Fundamental Analysis is one which analyzes the current situations in the country of the currency, including such things as its economy, its political situation, and other related rumors. By the numbers, a country’s economy depends on a number of quantifiable measurements such as its Central Bank’s interest rate, the national unemployment level, tax policy and the rate of inflation. An investor can also anticipate that less quantifiable occurrences, such as political unrest or transition will also have an effect on the market. Before basing all predictions on the factors alone, however, it is important to remember that investors must also keep in mind the expectations and anticipations of market participants. For just as in any stock market, the value of a currency is also based in large part on perceptions of and anticipations about that currency, not solely on its reality.

Make Money with Currency Trading on FOREX

FOREX investing is one of the most potentially rewarding types of investments available. While certainly the risk is great, the ability to conduct marginal trading on FOREX means that potential profits are enormous relative to initial capital investments. Another benefit of FOREX is that its size prevents almost all attempts by others to influence the market for their own gain. So that when investing in foreign currency markets one can feel quite confident that the investment he or she is making has the same opportunity for profit as other investors throughout the world. While investing in FOREX short term requires a certain degree of diligence, investors who utilize a technical analysis can feel relatively confident that their own ability to read the daily fluctuations of the currency market are sufficiently adequate to give them the knowledge necessary to make informed investments.

Five Sure Fire Way to Secure Your Financial Future

“You can be poor when you’re young, but you can’t be poor when you’re old.” That was the tag line used some years ago in a financial services television commercial.

Truer words were never spoken.

I was relatively poor when I was young. Just about everybody I knew was and it was kind of fun. We lived an almost communal lifestyle, sharing money, accommodation, food, beer, cigarettes and other essentials of post-pubescent life. Would it be as much fun if I had to do it again today? Could I do it again? Not on your life!

Now I’m anything but a financial genius but there are five basic principles that I’ve learned and used to secure our financial future. And while far from wealthy, I have every confidence that I will not have to live in a refrigerator box whenever I quit working and that my wife will be able to comfortably carry on in the event of my premature demise. (You should know I’m at an age where I think eighty-five is a premature death!)

Is building a secure financial future akin to rocket surgery? Absolutely not— you need to do five key things to get started:

1. Determine your short and long-term financial goals. Start by taking a comprehensive snapshot of your current situation—your assets, net income, debts and living expenses. Once you’ve done this you can start setting long and short-term financial goals. Decide what lifestyle you want to enjoy between now and when you retire; what retirement lifestyle do you expect to have and what sort of education do you expect to provide for your children.

2. After you’ve assessed where you are now and where you want to be in the future take steps to protect your ability to get there–and stay there once you’ve arrived. A major part of your family’s financial program is to insure against major financial loss. There are simply no guarantees against serious illness, accidents or untimely death. So take the steps necessary to insure against loss of life, loss of income and loss of physical assets.

3. Pay yourself first. Save at least 10% of pre-tax income – more if possible. Pay down your mortgage as quickly as possible, especially in times of low interest. In the short term, you’ll be better off reducing a mortgage that costs you 6% than earning around a taxable 1.5% (or less) in a savings account.

Maximize your RSP/401K contribution every year and make the contribution at the beginning rather than at the end of the year. Simply doing that will substantially increase the size of your retirement nest egg when you’re ready to cash out.

4. Avoid credit traps. If you use credit cards, always pay any money owing before interest is due. Consider paying off your credit card immediately if you have money in a savings account—as with the mortgage, the interest earned on the savings is certain to be lower than what’s charged by the credit card company. Avoid using credit cards for cash advances. Usually the interest charges are higher for these and the charges begin immediately. If you do carry a balance on your cards try to negotiate a lower rate with the credit card company. If you need money urgently, it’s usually cheaper to negotiate a personal loan with your bank or credit union.

5. Finally, protect your family in the event of your death. Make a Will. If you die without leaving a Will in all likelihood the only thing you’ll really leave your loved ones is a bloody mess—one that could take many years and a whole bunch of money to sort out.

Without a Will, the court/government will decide how your property and possessions will be divided. I would expect there are two chances of them acting in a way consistent with what your wishes might have been—slim and none!

Making a Will doesn’t mean the Grim Reaper is about to pay you a visit. It simply means that your affairs will be sorted out in the ways you want and, as a result, you can go about your life with a peaceful mind because your loved ones are protected.

These five principles are only a starting point—a few suggestions that any financial management professional can improve and expand on. If I have one regret about how I’ve handled my financial affairs over time it is not enlisting enough professional help. When we were starting, the financial management business was neither as big nor as sophisticated as it is today. Who knows, with better help, I might be writing this from some warm Caribbean tax haven rather a cold Calgary office!

“Don’t try this alone—use a trained professional,” is absolutely the best advice I’m really qualified to give.