The world is becoming more interconnected every day. Businesses and individuals around the globe are increasingly conducting transactions that involve payments of one currency to another.
This is the foreign exchange market, sometimes referred to as the currency market, Forex or simply the FX market. The FX market is huge, global and very fragmented. FX transactions can be conducted by large global banks, regional broker or dealers and even small, unregulated boutiques.
The FX marketplace is overwhelming, conducted outside of exchanges in what is known as the over-the-counter or OTC market. Exchange-traded FX futures are a growing portion of this vast international marketplace.
The growth in exchange-traded and cleared FX products is due to the highly transparent nature of exchange-traded products and also the safety that is derived from central clearing and post-trade risk collateralization, which reduces counterparty risk.
To understand the FX markets, a little background on some of the economic theories of exchange rates might be useful.
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is based on the law of one price, where the cost of an identical good should be the same around the world after exchange rate adjustment.
Interest Rate Parity (IRP), like PPP, is also based on the law of one price. It suggests that an investment asset in one country should yield the same as one in another country, after adjusting for exchange rates.
The FX market is the largest and deepest capital market in world. It trades virtually around the clock, worldwide, every day.
The Bank of international Settlements (BIS) conducts a survey of the global FX markets every three years. It reports its finding in what is known as the BIS Triennial Survey. The latest BIS Triennial Survey reported all FX transactions globally to an average of $5.3 trillion dollars per day.
To put that into perspective, we can compare FX volume to other global capital markets
OTC derivatives trade approximately $2.1 trillion per day, the U.S. bond market trades roughly $800 billion per day, and the most quoted market, U.S. stocks, trades about $200 billion per day.
Currencies are identified using ISO 4217 Currency Codes. By 1973, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established the three-letter codes for currencies we use today.
Code Country & Currency
USD United States Dollar
AUD Australian Dollar
BRL Brazilian Real
CAD Canadian Dollar
CHF Swiss Franc
CLP Chilean Peso
CNY Chinese Yuan Renminbi
COP Colombian Peso
EUR Euro Member Countries
GBP British Pound
HKD Hong Kong Dollar
ILS Israeli Shekel
INR Indian Rupee
JPY Japanese Yen
KRW Korean Won
MXN Mexican Peso
NZD New Zealand Dollar
RUB Russian Ruble
ZAR South African Rand
If you have exposure to foreign currencies or are looking to accept risk in the FX marketplace, then trading FX futures offers you the opportunity to hedge your risk or express an opinion on the value of one currency versus another.