Secondo il Wall Street Journal il mercato delle valute ha raggiunto l'impressionante volume di 4000 miliardi di dollari di scambi giornalieri, più di un quarto del prodotto interno lordo annuale degli USA! L'ascesa del Forex pare inarrestabile e sembra aver sostituito il mercato azionario nei sogni dei day traders professionisti e dilettanti tutto il mondo. E' un mercato
fueled by leveraged investors, high-frequency trading strategies, and "carry" trades hardly sounds the most promising place for investment banks to focus their postcrisis energies. Yet foreign-exchange trading has boomed despite, and even thanks to, the turmoil in the financial system. Daily transaction volumes hit $4 trillion in April. At April 2010 exchange rates, that's an increase of 18% from the last Bank for International Settlements survey three years ago. The pace of growth may fade as the crisis does, but high volumes are here to stay.
La moneta più scambiata rimane il dollaro, mentre i volumi giornalieri sull'euro sono circa la metà. Scrive il WSJ che
il forex è in realtà un network of bank dealers and electronic-trading systems. At its core are investors or corporations needing to convert one currency into another, either as they buy or sell a stock or bond from another country or bring home profits earned abroad. For example, any time a U.S. investor buys a Japanese stock or a German company buys parts from a Korean supplier, a foreign-exchange trade occurs.
Banks are also heavy users of the currency markets to convert cash they borrow from foreign investors. Mutual-fund managers overseeing portfolios of foreign stocks may use currency derivatives to offset the impact of exchange-rate swings on those investments. And finally, there are speculators, such as hedge funds and mutual funds, who place bets on whether individual currencies will rise or fall.
The currency market is by far the world's largest financial market. It dwarfs U.S. stock trading, which in April averaged about $134 billion a day, down from a daily average of $148 billion in 2007, according to data compiled by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Even trading in U.S. Treasurys, among the biggest markets in the world, averaged $456 billion a day in April, down from an average of $570 billion for all of 2007.
Oltre alle banche sono sempre più attivi i fondi di investimento, gli hedge funds e una buona parte dei volumi è fatta dal trading algoritmico ad alta frequenza:
Trading among "nondealers," which includes hedge funds and mutual funds, grew 42% to $1.9 trillion per day, BIS said. Trading between bank dealers grew more slowly, by 11%, to $1.5 trillion.
The shift in currency trading to these investors is evident in the big move in the yen recently. Historically, currencies in countries with high growth rates and interest rates tended to be strong, driven by trade flows and the attraction of the high rates for investors. Japan has neither of these factors, yet the yen is at 15-year highs, largely because investors see it as a safe haven from global financial turmoil.
Some of the rise in nondealer trading likely reflects the growing prominence in recent years of computer-driven trading models broadly known as algorithms. Similar to their trading in stocks, these models make huge numbers of very short-term bets, adding considerably to the volume, but generally not having an influence on the overall direction of the currency rates.