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Forex OverviewEach day, millions of trades are made in a currency exchange market called Forex. The word "Forex" directly stems off of the beginning of two words - "foreign" and "exchange". Unlike other trading systems such as the stock market, Forex does not involve the trading of any goods, physical or representative. Instead, Forex operates through buying, selling, and trading between the currencies of various economies from around the world. Because the Forex market is truly a global trading system, trades are made 24 hours a day, five days a week. In addition, Forex is not bound by any one control agency, which means that Forex is the only true free market economic trading system available today. By leaving the exchange rates out of any one group's hands, it is much more difficult to even attempt to manipulate or corner the currency market. With all of the advantages associated with the Forex system, and the global range of participation, the Forex market is the largest market in the entire world. Anywhere between 1 trillion and 1.5 trillion equivalent United States dollars are traded on the Forex market each and every day.
Forex operates mainly on the concept of "free-floating" currencies; this can be explained best as currencies that are not backed by specific materials such as gold or silver. Prior to 1971, a market such as Forex would not work because of the international "Bretton Woods" agreement. This agreement stipulated that all involved economies would strive to hold the value of their currencies close to the value of the US dollar, which in turn was held to the value of gold. In 1971, the Bretton Woods agreement was abandoned. The United States had run a huge deficit during the Vietnam Conflict, and began printing out more paper currency than they could back with gold, resulting in a relatively high level of inflation. By 1976, every major currency worldwide had left the system established under the Bretton Woods agreement, and had changed into a free-floating system of currency. This free-floating system meant that each country's currency could have vastly different values that fluctuated based on how the country's economy was faring at that time.
Because each currency fluctuates independently, it is possible to make a profit from the changes in currency value. For example, 1 Euro used to be worth about 0.86 US dollars. Shortly thereafter, 1 Euro was worth about 1.08 US dollars. Those who bought Euros at 86 cents and sold them at 1.08 US dollars were able to make 22 cents profit off of each Euro - this could equate to hundreds of millions in profits for those who were deeply rooted in the Euro. Everything in the Forex market is hanging on the exchange rate of various currencies. Sadly, very few people realize that the exchange rates they see on the news and read about in the newspapers each day could possibly be able to work towards profits on their behalf, even if they were just to make a small investment.
The Euro and the US dollar are probably the two most well-known currencies that are used in the Forex market, and therefore they are two of the most widely traded in the Forex market. In addition to the two "kings of currency", there are a few other currencies that have fairly strong reputation for Forex trading. The Australian Dollar, the Japanese Yen, the Canadian Dollar, and the New Zealand Dollar are all staple currencies used by established Forex traders. However, it is important to note that on most Forex services, you won't see the full name of a currency written out. Each currency has it's own symbol, just as companies involved in the stock market have their own symbol based off of the name of their company. Some of the important currency symbols to know are:
USD - United States Dollar
EUR - The Euro
CAD - The Canadian Dollar
AUD - The Australian Dollar
JPY - The Japanese Yen
NZD - The New Zealand Dollar
Although the symbols may be confusing at first, you'll get used to them after a while. Remember that each currency's symbol is logically formed from the name of the currency, usually in some form of acronym. With a little practice, you'll be able to determine most currency codes without even having to look them up.
Some of the richest people in the world have Forex as a large part of their investment portfolio. Warren Buffet, the world's richest man, has over $20 Billion invested in various currencies on the Forex market. His revenue portfolio usually includes well over one-hundred million dollars in profit from Forex trades each quartile. George Soros is another big name in the field of currency trading - it is believed that he made over $1 billion in profit from a single day of trading in 1992! Although those types of trades are very rare, he was still able to amass over $7 Billion from three decades of trading on the Forex market. The strategy of George Soros also goes to show that you don't have to be too risky to make profits on Forex - his conservative strategy involves withdrawing large portions of his profits from the market, even when the trend of his various investments seems to still be correlating upward.
Thankfully, you don't have to invest millions of dollars to make a profit on Forex. Many people have recorded their success with initial investments of anywhere from $10,000 to as little as $100 for an initial investment. This wide range of economic requirements makes Forex an attractive venue for trading among all classes, from those well entrenched in the lower rungs of the middle class, all the way up to the richest people alive on the planet. For those on the lower end of the spectrum, access to the Forex market is a fairly recent innovation. Within the past decades, various companies began offering a system that is friendlier to the average person, allowing the smaller initial investments and greater flexibility that is seen in the market today. Now, no matter what economic position you are in, you can get started. Although it's possible to jump right in and start investing, it's best that you make sure you have a better understanding of the ins and outs of Forex trading before you get started.
The world of Forex is one that can be both profitable and exciting, but in order to make Forex work for you it is important that you know how the system works. Like most lucrative activities, to become a Forex pro you need a lot of practice. There are many websites that offer exactly this, the simulated practice of Foreign Exchange.
The services provided by online practice sites differ from site to site, so it is always a good idea to make sure you know all of the details of the site you are about to use. For example, there are several online brokers who will offer a practice account for a period of several weeks, then terminate it and start you on a live account, which means you may end up using your own money before you are ready to. It's always a good idea to find a site that offers an unlimited practice account. Having a practice account allows you to learn the ways of the trade with no risk at all.
Continuing to use the practice account while you use a live account is also a beneficial tool for even the most seasoned Forex traders. The use of a no risk practice account enables you to try out new trading strategies and tread into unknown waters. If the strategy works, you know that you can now implement that strategy into your real account. If the strategy fails, you know to refrain from the use of that strategy without the loss of any actual money.
Of course, simply using a no risk account won't get you anywhere. In order to make money with Forex, you need to put your own money in. Obviously, it would be ridiculous to travel to other countries to purchase and sell different currencies, so there are many websites that you can use to digitally trade your money. Almost all online brokerage systems have different features to offer you so you have to do the research to find out which site you wish to create an account with.
All brokers will require specific information of you to create your account. The information they will need from you includes information required to communicate with you, including your name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address. They also require information needed to identify who you are, including your Social Security number, Passport number or Tax Identification number. It is required by law that they have this information, so they can prevent fraudulent trading. They may also collect various personal information when you open an account, including gender, birth date, occupation, and employment status.
Now that you have practiced trading currency and set up your live account, it is time to truly enter this profitable yet risky world. To make money with Forex, you do need to have money to begin with. It is possible to trade with very small amounts of money, but this will also lead to very small profits. As is with many other exchange systems, high payouts will only come with high risks. You can't expect to start getting millions as soon as you put money in to the market, but you can't expect to make any money at all if you don't put in at least a 3-digit value.
As most Forex brokers will warn you, you can loose money in the foreign exchange market, so don't put your life savings into any one trade. Always trade with money that you'd be able to survive without. This will ensure that if you get a bad trade and loose a lot of money, you wont end up on the streets, and you'll be able to make a comeback in the future.
So how does trading currency work? Logically, trades always come in pairs. For example, a common trade would be the United States Dollar to the Japanese Yen. This is expressed as USD/JPY. The way to quote a trade is kind of tricky, but with practice it becomes as natural as reading your native language. In a Forex quote, the first currency in the list (IE: USD in USD/JPY) is the base currency, and in the quote the base is always one. This means if (hypothetically of course) One USD was worth Two JPY, that the quote would be expressed as 1/2.
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