Geographically, the foreign exchange market spans the entire globe, however:
The major foreign exchange markets as a percent of 2007 daily turnover (2004) are
U.K. (London): 34.1%; $1,094 billion (31.1%)
U.S. (New York): 16.6%; $ 533 billion (19.2%)
Switzerland: 6.6% (3.3%)
Japan (Tokyo): 6.0%; (8.3%)
Singapore: 5.8% (5.2%)
Hong Kong 4.4% (4.2%)
Australia (Sydney): 4.2% (3.4%)
Trading Times for the Market
Foreign exchange trades on a 24 hour basis, with major financial centers open Monday through Friday.
Weekday trading begins in Sydney, Australia, Monday morning (6:00am local time).
Which is Sunday 4pm EST in New York; Sunday 8pm in London, and Monday 5:00am in Japan.
Weekday trading ends in New York, Friday afternoon (5pm EST).
Which is Friday 10pm in London, and Saturday 6:00am in Japan.
Globally, foreign exchange trading begins Australia, moves to Asia (Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore), then to the Middle East, on to Europe (Paris and London), and finally to North America (New York).
Weekend trades take place in the Middle East (e.g., in Bahrain with 360 offshore banks; 65 US banks).
24-Hour Global Market: Times represent normal trading hours Opens Monday 6 am Sydney Closes: Friday 5pm New York Europe: LONDON 7:30am – 4pm Middle East: Weekends NEW YORK 5am – early afternoon Other Asia: TOKYO 7am – 7pm
Where is Bahrain?
London’s Unique Position
Due to the geographic positioning of London in relation to New York and Tokyo, London enjoys a trading day which overlaps with the other two.
Thus, London trading in the afternoon corresponds with New York trading in the morning.
And, London trading in the morning corresponds with Tokyo trading in the late afternoon (5 to 6pm).
However, New York (regular trading times) and Tokyo trading times do NOT overlap.
Overlapping of Regions for FX Traders in New York (assuming 8 (or 5) to 5 in NYC)
Times refer to EST in New York City
Trading Patterns During the Day
Weekday trading activity is heaviest when the major markets overlap. As noted this would be:
London (pm) and New York (am) overlap
London (am) and Tokyo (pm) overlap
Thus, nearly two-thirds of New York foreign exchange trading activity occurs during New York morning hours (when London market is open).
Why these trading patterns?
Market participants look to the combined liquidity of two major centers to provide them with the best prices and quickest transactions.
Importance of London Measuring FOREX Market Activity: Average Electronic Conversations Per Hour Greenwich Mean Time Tokyo opens Asia closing 10 AM In Tokyo Afternoon in America London closing 6 pm In NY Americas open Europe opening Lunch In Tokyo
Five broad categories of participants operate within the foreign exchange market. They are:
Commercial Banks and Investment Banks
Major commercial banks (e.g., Citigroup and Deutsche Bank ) and investment banks (e.g., Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan) with a global presence.
These banks are market makers.
They profit from their bid and ask quotes (spreads).
They also trade for their own accounts.
See next slide for 2005 top 10 market maker banks.
Business firms involved in cross border commercial transactions and hedging their FX exposures
Importers, exporters, multinational firms.
Top 10 FX Market Makers, May 2005
Top 10 Currency Traders, by Rank, Name, and % of total FX volume
1 Deutsche Bank 17.0%
2 UBS (Swiss) 12.5
3 Citigroup 7.5
4 HSBC (UK) 6.4
5 Barclays (UK) 5.9
6 Merrill Lynch 5.7
7 J.P. Morgan Chase 5.3
8 Goldman Sachs 4.4
9 ABN Amro (Dutch) 4.2
10 Morgan Stanley 3.9
Note: These ten banks accounted for 73% of FX transactions.
Source: Wall Street Journal (2/9/06)
Market Participants -- Continued
Traders: Speculators and arbitragers
For Example: Hedge Funds:
As speculators, they seek profit from exchange rate changes (selling short, buying long)
As arbitragers, they seek profit from simultaneous differences in exchange rates in different markets
Hedge fund example: http:// www.mangroupplc.com/default.cfm
Governments: Central banks and treasuries
Seeking to offset market forces
Mutual funds, asset managers, non-market maker banks, and pension funds
Note: The bulk of the Forex Market is between a few hundred large banks that process transactions from large companies and governments around the world.
Types of Foreign Exchange Transactions
The Bank for International Settlements records three types of FX “traditional” transactions:
Two (business) day purchase or sale of foreign exchange.
More than two business days’ purchase or sale of foreign exchange.
Simultaneous purchase and sale of a given amount of foreign exchange for two different dates.
Foreign Exchange Swap Transactions
Defined: The simultaneous purchase and sale of a given amount of foreign exchange for two different dates.
Both purchase and sale are usually conducted with the same counterpart (i.e., the same global bank)
The most common FX swap is a spot against forward
A bank buys FX in the spot market and simultaneously sells the same amount back in the forward market
Since the swap transaction is an offset, the bank incurs NO exchange rate exposure.
A swap transaction is used to provide bank clients with needed foreign exchange for a specified period of time (e.g., a short term loan).
Example of FX Swap
Corporate approaches its bank wanting to borrow 10,000,000 euros for 90 days.
Bank negotiates in interbank spot market to purchase 10,000,000 euros, which in turn are lent to the corporate.
Bank simultaneously sells 10,000,000 euros 90 days forward (i.e., for delivery in 90 days) in the interbank market.
When loan matures, bank will receive the 10,000,000 euros from the corporate borrower which provides it with the euros to be delivered at that time to complete the forward agreement.
Thus, the lending bank assumes no exchange risk during the 90 day period.
The bank’s return is the interest on the loan, minus any spot/forward spread not in it’s favor.
Transactions by Type of Trade, 2007, % of Total
Outright Forwards: 12%
Up to 7 days: 43%
7 days to up to 1 year: 55%
Over 1 year: 2%
FX Swaps: 55%
Up to 7 days: 78%
7 days to up to 1 year: 21%
Over 1 year: 1%
Transactions by Type of Trade; %
Which Currencies are Traded; 2004 and 2007 Data
Average daily turnover as a % share of total
USD 88.7% 86.3%
EUR 37.2% 37.0%
JPY 20.3% 16.0%
GBP 16.8% 15.0%
CHF 6.1% 6.8%
AUD 5.5% 6.7%
CAD 4.2% 4.2%
Note: Total adds to 200% due to double counting of currencies in FX transactions.
Which Currency Pairs are Traded
Average daily turnover as a % share of total
USD/EUR 28% 27%
USD/JPY 17% 13%
USD/GBP 14% 12%
USD/AUD 5% 6%
USD/CHF 4% 5%
USD/CAD 4% 4%
Wholesale (Interbank) and Retail Markets
The FX market is a two-tier financial market:
Wholesale (Interbank) market
Large transactions (>$10 million) involving 100 to 200 large “market-maker” global banks (>$400 billion) and large non-bank financial institutions (e.g., investment banks).
Represents about 80% of the market.
Retail (client) market
Transactions between banks and their retail customers (includes multinational firms, money managers, private speculators).
Represents about 20% of the market.
Bank for International Settlements
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an international organization which aims to promote "international monetary and financial cooperation and serve as a bank for central banks."
The BIS was originally established under the Hague agreements in January 1930 to facilitate Germany's payment of reparations following World War I, and to promote cooperation between central banks.
It began operating in Basel, Switzerland, on May 17, 1930, and is the world's oldest international financial organization .
Useful BIS Web-sites
BIS main web site:
BIS central bank web-site:
The following BIS web-site has links to most of the central banks around the world!