Describe the FX market
Identify participants and currencies
Understand spot and forward rates
Calculate & use cross and forward rates
Changes in exchange rates
The foreign exchange market is the mechanism by
– transfer purchasing power between countries;
– obtain or provide credit for international trade
– minimize exposure to the risks of exchange rate
Functions of FX Market
Characteristics of FX Market
Largest of all financial markets with average daily
turnover of over $2 trillion!
66% of all foreign exchange transactions involve
Only ≈11% of daily spot transactions involve non-
London is the largest FX market.
US dollar involved in 87% of all transactions.
A Spot transaction in the interbank market
is the purchase of foreign exchange, with
delivery and payment between banks to
take place, normally, on the second
following business day.
The date of settlement is referred to as the
Types of Transactions
An outright forward transaction (usually called just
“forward”) requires delivery at a future value date of a
specified amount of one currency for a specified amount of
The exchange rate is established at the time of the
agreement, but payment and delivery are not required until
Forward exchange rates are usually quoted for value dates of
one, two, three, six and twelve months.
Buying Forward and Selling Forward describe the same
transaction (the only difference is the order in which
currencies are referenced.)
Types of Transactions
A swap transaction in the interbank market is the
simultaneous purchase and sale of a given amount
of foreign exchange for two different value dates.
Both purchase and sale are conducted with the
Some different types of swaps are:
– spot against forward,
– nondeliverable forwards (NDF).
Types of Transactions
The foreign exchange market consists of two tiers:
– the interbank or wholesale market (multiples of $1M US or
equivalent in transaction size), and
– the client or retail market (specific, smaller amounts).
Five broad categories of participants operate within
these two tiers: bank and nonbank foreign exchange
dealers, individuals and firms, speculators and
arbitragers, central banks and treasuries, and foreign
Banks and a few nonbank foreign exchange dealers
operate in both the interbank and client markets.
They profit from buying foreign exchange at a “bid”
price and reselling it at a slightly higher “offer” or
Dealers in the foreign exchange department of large
international banks often function as “market makers.”
These dealers stand willing at all times to buy and sell
those currencies in which they specialize and thus
maintain an “inventory” position in those currencies.
Individuals (such as tourists) and firms (such as
importers, exporters and MNEs) conduct commercial
and investment transactions in the foreign exchange
Their use of the foreign exchange market is necessary
but nevertheless incidental to their underlying
commercial or investment purpose.
Some of the participants use the market to “hedge”
their foreign exchange risk.
Speculators and arbitragers seek to profit from
trading in the market itself.
They operate in their own interest, without a need
or obligation to serve clients or ensure a
While dealers seek the bid/ask spread, speculators
seek all the profit from exchange rate changes and
arbitragers try to profit from simultaneous
exchange rate differences in different markets.
Central banks and treasuries use the market to acquire or
spend their country’s foreign exchange reserves as well as
to influence the price at which their own currency is traded.
They may act to support the value of their own currency
because of policies adopted at the national level or because
of commitments entered into through membership in joint
agreements such as the European Monetary System.
The motive is not to earn a profit as such, but rather to
influence the foreign exchange value of their currency in a
manner that will benefit the interests of their citizens.
As willing loss takers, central banks and treasuries differ in
motive from all other market participants.
Types of Activities
An activity that leaves one open to exchange rate
fluctuations where one aims to make a profit.
Allows the firm to transfer exchange rate risk inherent in
foreign currency transactions or positions.
Arbitrage – take advantage of inconsistent prices to
make risk-free profits. These profits are unlikely to last
Spatial (or Locational) Arbitrage
Covered Interest Arbitrage – Lecture 3
Foreign Exchange Rates & Quotations
A foreign exchange rate is the price of one currency
expressed in terms of another currency.
A foreign exchange quotation (or quote) is a
statement of willingness to buy or sell at an
Bid & Ask Quotes
Foreign currency dealers provide two quotes:
Bid Price: Price at which the dealer is willing to buy
foreign currency from you.
Ask Price: Price at which the dealer is willing to sell
foreign currency to you.
It is always the case that the Ask Price > Bid Price. The
difference is the Bid-Ask spread.
The less traded and more volatile a currency, the greater
is the spread.
Direct & Indirect Quotes
Direct Quote: Home currency per unit of Foreign currency
(FC) - e.g. AUD/€ quote is 1.6003 – 1.6499
Indirect Quote: Foreign currency per unit of Home currency
- e.g. €/AUD quote of 0.6061 – 0.6249
Note that in all cases, the reciprocal of a direct quote is an
Also, you might encounter an exchange rate quotation in
American terms (US$/FC) or European terms (FC/US$).
$/£ 1.4482 1.4484
Bid: Dealer buys £ for $ at the Bid, Client
sells £ for $ (i.e., dealer will buy £1,000,000
Ask: Dealer sells £ for $ at the Ask, Client
buys £ with $ (i.e., dealer will sell £1,000,000
Bid – Ask Spread
Banks act as market makers and realise their profits
from the spread:
Bid-Ask Spread = (Ask-Bid)/Ask
Consider the DIRECT quote of $ 1.4482 – 1.4484/£
( ) %38.1100
Forward rates can be quoted as either as an outright quote,
points or as an annualised % forward premium or discount.
Forward Quotes – Points
A forward quotation expressed in points is not a foreign
exchange rate as such. It is the difference between the
forward rate and the spot rate.
When the Bid Points > Ask Points, you subtract the
points from the spot rate to get the outright forward
If the Bid Points < Ask Points, you add the points to
the spot rate to get the outright forward quote
For quotations expressed in foreign currency
terms (Indirect quotations) the formula becomes:
= Spot – Forward 360
For quotations expressed in home currency terms
(Direct quotations) the formula becomes:
= Forward – Spot 360
Forward Quotes – Percentage
Many currency pairs are inactively traded, so their exchange
rate is determined through their relationship to a widely
traded third currency.
For example, an Australian importer needs Danish currency
to pay for purchases in Copenhagen.
The Australian dollar (symbol A$) is not widely quoted
against the Danish kroner (symbol DKr).
However, both currencies are quoted against the U.S. dollar.
Assume the following quotes:
Australian dollar A$1.5431/US$
Danish kroner DKr7.0575/US$
The Australian importer can buy one U.S. dollar
for A$1.5431 and with that dollar buy
DKr7.0575. The cross-rate calculation would
However, calculating cross-rates is usually
not as easy as this!
Cross Rates – Example
We have the following rates:
US$1.4419 – 36 / GBP
US$0.6250 – 67 / CHF
Calculate the CHF / GBP rate!
= CHF 2.3008 – 98 / GBP.
Cross Rates – Example
First: How do I get CHF/GBP from the two rates?
CHF/GBP = (US$/GBP)/(US$/CHF)
Second: Bid = go from bottom (GBP) to top (CHF) (use
GBP to buy US$, then US$ to buy CHF)
Third: Ask = go from top (CHF) to bottom (GBP) (use CHF
to buy US$, then US$ to buy GBP)
Fourth: Apply rule from part one to currency rate pairs.
Therefore, CHF 2.3008 – 98 / GBP.
Cross Rates – Tips
As you do more cross rate questions you
will start to see patterns emerging.
For example if both rates are something
per USD or USD per something then you
will have to divide the rates somehow and
you will be matching bids with asks.
Or if the rates are in different forms (USD
is in different places) then you will be
multiplying and you will match bid with
bid and ask with ask.
Cross rates can be used to check on opportunities for
inter-market arbitrage. Suppose the following exchange
rates are available:
Bank of America: Dutch guilders (fl) per U.S. $ fl1.9025/U.S.$
Dominion Bank: Canadian dollars per U.S. $ C$1.2646/U.S.$
ABN Amro Bank: Dutch guilders per Canadian $ fl1.5214/C$
The synthetic cross rate between Dutch
guilders and Canadian dollars is:
You get more
Triangular Arbitrage – Example
Profit = fl 11,281Profit = fl 11,281
• Measuring a change in the foreign currency for
quotations expressed in home currency terms
%∆ = Ending rate – Beginning Rate
• Quotations expressed in foreign currency terms
%∆ = Beginning Rate – Ending Rate
Beginning Rate x 100
Ending Rate x 100
Measuring a Change in the Spot Rate
The Australian dollar was quoted at A$1.8445/US$ on
Aug 19, 2002, while on March 2, 2004 it was quoted at
What is the appreciation/depreciation of the US$?
Thus, the appreciation/depreciation of the US$, relative
to the A$ from t-1 to t is:
S S A /$
S A /$
= = = −
Thus, the U.S.$ has depreciated
relative to the A$ by 27.6%
To calculate the appreciation/depreciation of the
Australian dollar, relative to the US dollar, we want the
denominator currency to be the A$:
At t-1: A$1.8445/US$ = US$0.5422/A$
At t: A$1.335/US$ = US$0.7491/A$
$0.7491 $0.5422/ $
S S A
= = =
Thus, the A$ has appreciated
relative to the US $ by 38.2%
$ depreciation, A$ appreciation not equal
In general, the percentage appreciation in one currency
is not equal to the percentage depreciation in the other
1 + RA$ = (1 + RUS$)