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Role of Central Banks in the Foreign Exchange Markets


Forex Attack Team
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The Forex Attack Team researches and publishes thought-provoking news, analysis, and opinion pieces on the global financial markets. We provide in-depth coverage of forex, commodities, and indices.

National central banks play a serious role in the foreign exchange markets. They try to control the money supply, inflation, or interest rates and often have official or unofficial target rates for their currencies. They can use their often solid foreign exchange reserves to make the market more stable. The effectiveness of central bank “stabilizing speculation” is doubtful because central banks do not go bankrupt if they make large losses, like other traders would, and there is no convincing evidence that they do make a profit trading. The mere expectation or rumor of central bank intervention might be enough to stabilize a currency, but aggressive intervention might be used several times each year in countries with a dirty float currency regime.

Role of Central Bank in the Foreign Exchange Markets

Central banks do not always achieve their objectives. The combined resources of the market can easily overwhelm any central bank. Several scenarios of this nature were seen in the 92–93 ERM collapse and in more recent times in Southeast Asia. Trading and intervention techniques can offer traders benefits when trading on the foreign currency exchange market, or the Forex. Traders look to intervention as a means of seeing where the Forex is heading, indicating that some currencies should be higher or lower depending on what is going on in that country.

Intervention of the Forex is not unusual. When there is a big tragedy or large debt in a country, the value of that nation’s currency will drop. There was a time when the budget deficit of the United States caused the value of the dollar to decline very rapidly in relation to the Japanese yen. This caused the Japanese yen to rise very quickly. When this happens, brokers and Forex traders can forecast, or speculate that an intervention is likely. Intervention makes the value of a currency either rise or fall depending on how the government wants it to move, even if it is for the short term.

Experienced brokers and Forex traders understand when an intervention is likely, thus creating an opportunity for the trader to profit by acting quickly. Using the intervention technique as a means of trading on the Forex necessitates that a trader must be up to date on current events from around the world and must be able to act upon these events and trends very quickly. It can be very risky to trade on intervention trends. The potential is there for the trader to lose a large amount of capital in a very short amount of time.

It is necessary to understand economics from around the world In order to completely understand the foreign exchange market and the way currency moves. The Forex solely revolves around currency and its value in relation to each other. The value of the currency plays a major role in both domestic and global economics.

The intervention technique is also directly related to the value of the currency and to the central banks. Currency obtains the value by supply and demand and by the government, or the central bank. When a currency is subjected to being valued it is called floating. When a government sets the rates of the currency, it is called fixing. This means that a country’s currency is compared against another major currency, usually the US dollar.

Intervention in the Forex usually happens during times of economic instability. As currencies are always traded in pairs, a large and significant movement of the rates in one direction or the other will directly impact the other currency. Any time nation experiences instability due to inflation, speculation, disasters or growing national debt, the other country will feel the effects as well. The results of this are not always felt immediately, but over a long period of time. This time lapse allows the government or central banks to act accordingly and allows them time to intervene if necessary.

When looking at charts of the way the foreign currency market performs, interventions are usually noticeable on graphs and charts. The intervention may not be made public, but an experience trader can look at these graphs over a period of time and tell when a government has chosen to intervene with the currency rates.

Knowing when an intervention is going to occur is not easy and it is even more difficult for the untrained trader to know when an intervention is going to happen. For those who have experience trading on the Forex, predicting an intervention can be as easy as looking at key indicators.

Typically, interventions occur when the same price levels occur as previous with interventions. This is not always the case as some central banks may choose not to intervene, but on the whole it is a good indicator. Another indicator of when the Forex might undergo intervention is the verbal clue. A government might talk about intervening, and yet the intervention may not happen for a long time. Other times, interventions will happen with no warning.

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