Foreign Exchange Risk and Benefits
In this section, we'll take a look at some of the benefits and risks associated with the forex market. We'll also discuss how it differs from the equity market in order to get a greater understanding of how the forex market works.
The Good and the Bad
We already have mentioned that factors such as the size, volatility and global structure of the foreign exchange market have all contributed to its rapid success. Given the highly liquid nature of this market, investors are able to place extremely large trades without affecting any given exchange rate. These large positions are made available to forex traders because of the low margin requirements used by the majority of the industry's brokers. For example, it is possible for a trader to control a position of US$100,000 by putting down as little as US$1,000 up front and borrowing the remainder from his or her forex broker. This amount of leverage acts as a double-edged sword because investors can realize large gains when rates make a small favorable change, but they also run the risk of a massive loss when the rates move against them. Despite the foreign exchange risks, the amount of leverage available in the forex market is what makes it attractive for many speculators.
The currency market is also the only market that is truly open 24 hours a day with decent liquidity throughout the day. For traders who may have a day job or just a busy schedule, it is an optimal market to trade in. As you can see from the chart below, the major trading hubs are spread throughout many different time zones, eliminating the need to wait for an opening or closing bell. As the U.S. trading closes, other markets in the East are opening, making it possible to trade at any time during the day.