The forex, or foreign exchange, market is a specialized type of market in which types of currency are exchanged for other types of currency. On average, the daily trade within the forex market is more than $1.9 trillion. As the world’s largest financial market, forex involves trading among central banks, large banks, governments, multinational corporations, large banks, and other institutions and markets of a financial nature. Individuals may also participate in the forex market through banks or brokers, though individuals represent only a small fraction of those trading within the market.
The Levels of Forex
Forex is different from the stock market, which provides the same prices to all participants. With forex, the market is actually divided into various levels. The top level is the inter-bank market that consists of the largest banking firms. The spreads of the inter-market usually are not shared with those outside of this exclusive circle. As the spreads work their way down through the levels, the difference between the ask price and the bid actually widens. This is primarily because those within the inter-bank level are capable of guaranteeing larger numbers of transactions and, as such, can demand a better spread.
The level below the inter-bank market is comprised of the smaller investment banks. The next level is made up by multi-national companies that pay employees in various companies as well as some retail forex market makers and large hedge funds.
Forex Trading Characteristics
Within the forex market, there are a number of different rates, or prices, which depend on what is being traded by the market or bank. In addition, there are a number of recognized trading centers within the forex market, with the main centers being in New York, London, Singapore, and Tokyo. In addition, a number of banks throughout the world participate in forex training. With so many markets located throughout the world, the market is literally open 24 hours per day. As such, traders can make trades immediately when events occur that can impact the market.