Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Currency Trading

Currency can be traded much like securities or as derivatives.

The purposes for trading vary but generally can be distilled down to either:

  • speculation or 
  • hedging.

Currency Speculation

Currency speculation can be a lucrative pursuit for skilled traders.

By analyzing macroeconomic variables such as inflation, interest rates, income levels, and governmental policies, currency traders can place bets on a currency with the hope of profiting from them.

Currency speculation can be complicated by the combination of market forces, the outcome of which can be difficult to predict.

Currency trading is complicated.   

[For example:
  • A trader decides he wants to bet on the euro because he believes the European Central Bank will raise interest rates.
  • At the same time, countries across the European Union are reporting substantial increases in inflation.
  • This trader learns that one of the largest currency hedge funds is selling its position in the euro.]

There is no foolproof algorithm for predicting what will happen to a particular currency as a result of movements in influential variables.

No one can predict the direction currency will take 100 percent of the time.

Currency Hedging

Currency hedging is a practice that can be employed 
  • by anyone taking a relatively large speculative position in a currency or 
  • by a business seeking to manage risk.

Here are several protective hedging strategies:
  • Options
  • Forwards
  • Futures

[Suppose Company X starts buying parts from a supplier in Europe.
Part payments are made in euros and are due 30 days after receipt of the parts
The euro seems to be rising against the dollar, which leaves Company X rather vulnerable.
In fact, if the euro rises significantly by the time payment is due, it could wipe out a good portion of Company X's expected profits.
What can the company do?

Here are several protective hedging strategies:

1.  Options.  
Buy calls on euros.
If the euro rises, the call becomes worth more, offsetting the increased payment amount owed to the supplier.
The downside of this strategy is that calls come at a price.

2.  Forwards
Company X can structure a forward contract to lock in a specific exchange rte, thus hedging from any exchange rate fluctuations.
The forward rate would be the specified exchange rate at which the currency will be exchanged.

3.  Futures
Company X can purchase a currency future requiring a standard amount of currency to be exchanged at a specific exchange rate on a specific settlement date.
Company X could purchase the future on an exchange, enabling the company to sell the future if rates hold or reverse. ]

[Now, suppose Company X sells its products in Europe and payments are made in euros.
The company stopped buying parts from Europe and now merely exports its products to Europe.

Sales are often credit-based, leaving the company with hefty accounts receivable.
What happens if these credit payments are owed 30 days after the customer takes possession?
If the euro fell against the dollar, the company would see its profits erode.
Hedging strategies can be employed by using the tools mentioned previously:

1.   Options
Buy puts on euros.
If the euro falls, the puts become worth more, offsetting the decreased payment amount owed to the company by its customers.

2.  Forwards
Just as before, Company x could create a forward contract to lock in the rate received from its customers.

3.  Futures
Company X could purchase dollar futures.  
If the euro declines against the dollar, the dollar future will increase, off-setting any loss of value on the receivable.]

Currency Arbitrage

Arbitrage allows an investor or trader to capitalize on pricing discrepancies.  

Arbitrage is used widely in the currency markets and usually takes on the following forms.

Locational Arbitrage

Locational arbitrage is based on the idea that one can buy currency at one location and sell it immediately at another location, instantaneously locking in a profit.  
A pricing discrepancy in the market allows for this.  
Arbitrage opportunities are generally short-lived, so you have to act fast, and usually the market corrects itself quickly.

Triangular Arbitrage

What if you could buy dollars with pounds, exchange the dollars for euros, and then exchange the euros back to dollars, earning a tidy profit during this round trip?
To determine whether a triangular arbitrage opportunity exists, you first would determine the cross exchange rate for dividing the USD to euro rate by the USE to GBP rate.
This would give you a cross exchange rate, GBP to euro.
This tells you that the bank is offering too many euros for pounds, which means the arbitrage opportunity does indeed exist.
You earned a profit because the bank overstated the cross exchange rate.
You were able to capitalize on this and earned a profit in the process.

The Biggest Problem in Currency Trading

The BIGGEST PROBLEM currency market players face is not understanding why currency exchange rates move in a particular direction when the factors affecting currency indicate something else

Unfortunately, the driving forces behind currency do not always indicate a definitive outcome; that is why currency trading is not for the faint of heart.

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