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Do Interest Rates Drive The Foreign Exchange Markets?

Aug 17, 2007
Interest Rates defined: Interest rates are LIBOR-based for currencies of disbursement plus a spread which is dependent on the complexity of the transaction and the risk profile of the applicant.

The Forex, or foreign currency exchange, is all about money. Money from all over the world is bought, sold and traded. On the Forex, anyone can buy and sell currency and with possibly come out ahead in the end. When dealing with the foreign currency exchange, it is possible to buy the currency of one country, sell it and make a profit. For example, a broker might buy a Japanese yen when the yen to dollar ratio increases, then sell the yens and buy back American dollars for a profit.

The foreign exchange market, sometimes known as the Forex market, is one that is affected by several things. The market itself is becoming one of the most popular forms of trading today. It once was reserved for the richest of the rich, however today with lower minimums; this is a market that draws people from all financial levels. The attractive thing about this market is both its leverage and it liquidity. Many people with a grand background in the Forex system can take very little money and turn it into a lot using the foreign exchange market. However, when you have expertise in the foreign exchange market, you must also be aware of things that affect it. Being aware of these things is part of making logical and rational decisions of trading.

Interest rates are something that drives the foreign exchange market. While currency prices are what the market is all about, interest rates have a direct affect on those prices. Therefore, to be able to understand the current foreign exchange market, one must understand the current conditions of each individual interest rate. While economic and political conditions are also among the things that greatly affect the Forex, there is nothing that affects it more than interest rates. Something to remember is that money often follows interest rates. When the interest rates raise, investors will want to capitalize high returns and you will see money flowing into the country. When one country's interest rates rise, their currency is seen as being stronger than other currencies. This happens because investors seek more of that currency to profit more. Otherwise, it is seen as a good thing when interest rates rise and a bad thing when they fall.

Government participation in the Forex is not an uncommon action. Sometimes governments will flood the foreign exchange market with their own domestic currency. This action may seem foolish to someone who knows nothing about the foreign exchange market, however to those who know it well, it makes perfect sense. When governments flood the Forex with their own domestic currency, they are attempting to lower the price. When they buy their own domestic currency, they are attempting to raise the price. One might know this strategy as Central Bank intervention. Governments do this to help their overall economy. This is a type of action that keeps the foreign exchange market strong and steady. When you have extremely large players making appearances to keep everything as fair as possible, you create an attractive market.

While interest rates can drive the market for a short time, the nature of the foreign exchange market makes it difficult for them to drive it for a long period of time. The design of the market, with it being large in size and volume, restricts interest rates from having complete control over the system. Many times however, experts try to figure out when interest rates will rise or fall. The most common thing they do in order to keep up with rates is to pay attention to economic inflation indicators. Sometimes investors and experts will also listen to speeches from politicians and other influential people. They can pick apart clues in order to make a guess before the announcements are made. Most of the time, there is a little advance notice before interest rates move.

As you can see, the influences of interest rates on the foreign exchange market are strong. They can help determine which countries' currencies are the strongest. This of course is relative to all other currencies in the market at the time. When you think about the rise and fall of interest rates, you can remember that when interest rates fall, it is typically a good thing for investors and for domestic currency. When rates fall, it is not such a great thing. When rates stay low for an extended period of time, the market may seem a little dull, however the great thing about the foreign exchange market is that when government gets involved, which it usually does at these down times, there is hope for improvement. So, if you are beginning to learn about the foreign exchange market, don't forget to pay attention to the rise and fall of interest rates around you in order to make the best investment decisions possible.
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