In every foreign exchange transaction, you are simultaneously buying one currency and selling another. In effect, you are using the proceeds from the currency you sold to purchase the currency you are buying. Furthermore, every currency in the world comes attached with an interest rate set by the central bank of that currency's country. You are obligated to pay the interest on the currency that you have sold, but you also have the privilege of earning interest on the currency that you have bought. For example, let’s look at the New Zealand dollar/Japanese yen pair (NZD/JPY). Let’s assume that New Zealand has an interest rate of 8% and that Japan has an interest rate of 0.5% In the currency market, interest rates are calculated in basis points. A basis point is simply 1/100th of 1%. So, New Zealand rates are 800 basis points and Japanese rates are 50 basis points. If you decide to go long NZD/JPY you will earn 8% in annualized interest, but have to pay 0.5% for a net return of 7.5%, or 750 basis points.
The key to creating a successful carry trade strategy is not simply to pair up the currency with the highest interest rate against a currency with the lowest rate. Rather, far more important than the absolute spread itself is the direction of the spread. In order for carry trades to work best, you need to be long in a currency with an interest rate that is in the process of expanding against a currency with a stationary or contracting interest rate. This dynamic can be true if the central bank of the country that you are long in is looking to raise interest rates or if the central bank of the country that you are short in is looking to lower interest rates.
In the previous USD/JPY example, between 2005 and 2006 the U.S. Federal Reserve was aggressively raising interest rates from 2.25% in January to 4.25%, an increase of 200 basis points. During that same time, the Bank of Japan sat on its hands and left interest rates at zero. Therefore, the spread between U.S. and Japanese interest rates grew from 2.25% (2.25% - 0%) to 4.25% (4.25% - 0%). This is what we call an expanding interest rate spread.
Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with foreign exchange trading and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts.
When you trade forex, you're effectively borrowing the first currency in the pair to buy or sell the second currency. With a US$5-trillion-a-day market, the liquidity is so deep that liquidity providers—the big banks, basically—allow you to trade with leverage. To trade with leverage, you simply set aside the required margin for your trade size. If you're trading 200:1 leverage, for example, you can trade $2,000 in the market while only setting aside $10 in margin in your trading account. For 50:1 leverage, the same trade size would still only require about £40 in margin. This gives you much more exposure, while keeping your capital investment down.
A single pound on Monday could get you 1.19 euros. On Tuesday, 1.20 euros. This tiny change may not seem like a big deal. But think of it on a bigger scale. A large international company may need to pay overseas employees. Imagine what that could do to the bottom line if, like in the example above, simply exchanging one currency for another costs you more depending on when you do it? These few pennies add up quickly. In both cases, you—as a traveler or a business owner—may want to hold your money until the forex exchange rate is more favorable.
Map out the magnitude of price moves with Retracements and Arcs. These tools let you draw studies about the possible developments of a price based on its previous move. It can be calculated following different mathematical concepts (Fibonacci, Gann…). While retracements are concerned with just the magnitude of moves, Arcs factor both magnitude and time, offering areas of future support or resistance that will move as time progresses. How to add Retracements and Arcs
Clearly, leverage should be used judiciously, but even with relatively conservative 10:1 leverage, the 7.5% yield on NZD/JPY pair would translate into a 75% return on an annual basis. So, if you were to hold a 100,000 unit position in NZD/JPY using $5,000 worth of equity, you would earn $9.40 in interest every day. That’s $94 dollars in interest after only 10 days, $940 worth of interest after three months, or $3,760 annually. Not too shabby given the fact that the same amount of money would only earn you $250 in a bank savings account (with a rate of 5% interest) after a whole year. The only real edge the bank account provides is that the $250 return would be risk-free.