Past, Present and Future of Forex Trading

history of forex

The history of the Forex market began during the middle ages where currency was traded through the international banks. This helped the Europeans spread currency trading throughout Europe and the Middle East. Emerging technology in the 1980s further propelled the Forex market as it made it easier for currencies to exchange hands. This has fueled the current explosion of trading in the Forex markets, and trading continues to increase every year. The United States finally decided to stop backing the dollar with gold in 1971.

Money management would be applied to this position through a stop-loss placed slightly above the previously broken support level to minimize any losses that might occur if the break is false and a temporary retracement takes place. Let’s look at a step-by-step breakdown of how to trade the formation, using the Australian dollar/U.S. dollar (AUD/USD) currency pair (Figure 1) as our example. First, we identify an off-center head-and-shoulders formation in a currency pair.

This meant that the exchange rate between them could not simply be calculated using arithmetic! Rather the value of a currency now depended on a variety of factors. A lot of these factors were under the control of governments. The word “money” has not always meant what it means today. Today when we use the word “money” we refer to “currency”.

New to forex trading? Learn about the markets by opening a demo account page. Currency is traded in pairs, in both spot and futures markets. The value of a currency pair is driven by economic, political and environmental factors, such as wars, natural disasters, or national elections.

history of forex

Gold parities were kept and the metal was always the ultimate form of monetary value, but major currencies – particularly those issued from the World War I winners, such as U.S., France, and Britain – would be used as an international method of payment (and a reserve instrument). While the Gold standard worked pretty well through good times, it was weak during bad times, creating a lack of confidence in the system, which only worsened worldwide economic difficulties, such as higher international indebtedness, and poorer government finances.

The History of Forex Markets

Cultures and therefore currencies therefore meet in areas of exchange. To facilitate payments between countries, letters of exchange were created in 1291 in Florence. They allow for exchange rates and interest rates to be set, and this will generate fortunes for private bankers like the Medici family.

A large difference in rates can be highly profitable for the trader, especially if high leverage is used. However, with all levered investments this is a double edged sword, and large exchange rate price fluctuations can suddenly swing trades into huge losses.

The gold standard was very efficient in multiple ways. One of the ways it promoted efficiency was that it did not allow for imbalances to grow in the market. For instance, if there was foreign trade between two currencies and one was importing a lot from the other, then the importing country would have to pay out a lot of gold to the other.

  • The economic crisis of 1929 once again puts an end to the gold standard system.
  • Known as the “Bretton Woods System,” the agreement set the exchange rate of the US dollar against gold.
  • International institutions such as the IMF, The World Bank and GATT were created in the same period as the emerging victors of WWII searched for a way to avoid the destabilizing monetary crises leading to the war.
  • Back then, an exchange rate would then be represented by the price difference of an ounce of Gold between one currency and another one – this was the first official kind of currency exchange that created the Forex rate history.
  • A ‘position’ is the term used to describe a trade in progress.
  • The Forex market — also known as the FX or foreign exchange — is a global decentralized market where national currencies are traded like goods.


A major catalyst to the growth of Forex trading was the rapid development of the Eurodollar market – where US Dollars are deposited in banks outside the US. Under the Bretton Woods Agreement, participating countries agreed to maintain the value of their currency within a narrow margin against the US Dollar and a corresponding rate of gold. The Gold Standard existed between the years of 1815 and World War I. Under the Gold Standard, currencies gained stability, as each country’s currency was backed by gold.

In the 1800s countries adopted the gold standard. The gold standard guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. This worked fine until World War I where European countries had to suspend the gold standard to print more money to pay for the war. It’s important for forex traders to understand the what is forex trading, and the key historic events which have shaped the market.

history of forex

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Investment management firms (who typically manage large accounts on behalf of customers such as pension funds and endowments) use the foreign exchange market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager bearing an international equity portfolio needs to purchase and sell several pairs of foreign currencies to pay for foreign securities purchases. Foreign exchange is traded in an over-the-counter market where brokers/dealers negotiate directly with one another, so there is no central exchange or clearing house. The biggest geographic trading center is the United Kingdom, primarily London. In April 2019, trading in the United Kingdom accounted for 43.1% of the total, making it by far the most important center for foreign exchange trading in the world.

Foreign exchange (also known as forex or FX) refers to the global, over-the-counter market (OTC) where traders, investors, institutions and banks, exchange speculate on, buy and sell world currencies. 2500 years ago, the Greeks and Egyptians traded goods and currencies with molten silver and gold coins and their value were determined by their actual weights and their size.

The price of one currency is linked to the price of another currency in a trade, so you will always work with two currencies at a time. Major pairs are the most commonly traded, and account for nearly 80% of trade volume on the forex market. There are seven Major currency pairs on the forex market. Other brackets include Crosses and Exotic currency pairs, which are less commonly traded and all relatively illiquid (i.e., not easily exchanged for cash). For example, if the currency pair EUR/USD was trading at 1.0916/1.0918, then an investor looking to open a long position on the euro would purchase 1 EUR for 1.0918 USD.

This gave rise to new financial instruments, market deregulation and trade liberalization. It was clearly time for a change; the Bretton Woods Agreement was finally abandoned in 1971, and the US Dollar was no longer convertible into gold. By 1973, currencies of major industrialized nations floated more freely. Such boom-bust economic patterns prevailed throughout the Gold Standard, until the outbreak of World War I. Ultimately, when the price of goods would hit bottom, other nations would go on buying sprees that would inject the local economy of the country with gold, increasing its money supply, and consequently driving down interest rates and producing wealth in the country’s economy.

history of forex