This is a guest post provided by ForexTraders.com
The foreign exchange market has literally exploded over the last 10 years. Before the 1990’s, the only players allowed to speculate in the forex market were banks, large hedge funds, and very wealthy individuals. The reason was simple. The minimum contract size was usually $100,000 and it ranged up to $1,000,000; therefore, most traders simply could not afford to trade in the market. The advance of technology and internet changed that. Today, traders can open an account with as little as $100 and begin trading in the spot fx market. This change has caused traders around the world to rush into the market and the Bank of International Settlements now estimates that average daily turnover in the fx market is around $4 trillion! Let’s examine a few of the top reasons why the fx market is drawing so many traders.
In the United States, traders that engage in fx trading can leverage 50:1. Leverage was much higher in recent years, but government regulations have now capped leverage at 50:1 effective late October. This means that a forex trader can control a position of $50,000 with only $1,000 on deposit with his broker. Leverage is definitely a two-edged sword that can help a trader garner very quick and substantial profits, but it can also lead to debilitating losses and should therefore be used with caution.
The huge amount of volume that is present in the forex market each day makes it basically impossible for any single financial institution or even group of market participants to manipulate price movements. It also makes it much easier for large traders to enter and exit the market without trading against themselves, which is a common problem in the stock and commodity markets.
24 Hour Market
The forex market is a loosely connected network of international banks; therefore, the market never closes from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon. Liquidity simply flows from financial center to financial center as time zones open and close business operations for the day. This is a huge advantage for small, retail traders because those who still have full-time jobs can trade at night.
Small Initial Account Size
Traders can open accounts with as little as $1 at some brokers, and then trade positions where each 1 point movement is equivalent to $0.01 (in the U.S. this would be lower since the leverages are capped at 1:50). This will obviously never get a trader rich, but it does allow traders a very low risk entrance into the market. Traders generally need $20,000 in order to day trade the stock market. This very low account size at an online forex broker is a big draw for many traders.
The currency market tends to develop very clear, long trends. It is not uncommon for specific currencies to head in the same direction for 5+ years. Of course, there are many dramatic price swings that make real-time trading difficult and challenging, but a quick look at longer-term currency price charts makes it clear that currencies develop strong trends.
The currency market is very big picture-based. This means there are not a million and one little things that a trader has to track as is common in other financial markets. Currencies react to major macroeconomic developments around the world. Seasoned fx professionals argue that this makes the job of economic analysis much different in the currency market.
Continued Growth and Volatility
The foreign exchange market is expected to continue to grow in coming years, and volatility is expected to remain quite strong as the world continues to move toward a more globalized economy. As globalization continues to change the world economy, investor interest in currencies will most likely continue to grow steadily.
Jason’s commentary: I’ve never looked into forex trading, mostly because I’m not in the “invest & grow rich” stage of my financial life. Have you invested in the forex market?