Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Candlestick charting or candleschart analysis is an ancient investment techiniques used by the Japanese rice traders. Candlestick chart or candle chart are so called because the lines resemble candles. There are two types of candlesticks, the black candle and the white candle.

Japanese candlestick charting constructionEach candlestick represents the open, high, low and close prices just like a traditional Western bar chart. However, the additional black and white colors enhances the interpretation of price actions. And with a series of black and white candlesticks results in a meaningful picture to the trained eyes.

Despite the fact that candlestick charting has been used by the Japanese for hundreds of years, the western hemisphere only came to know about this technique in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Today, these candlechart analysis are used internationally by traders, investors and premier financial institutions.

The benefits of using Candlestick charts:

* Are easy to understand: Anyone, from the first-time chartist to the seasoned professional can easily harness the power of candlestick charts. This is because, as will be shown later, the same data required to draw a bar chart (high, low, open and close) is used for a candlestick chart.
* Provide earlier indications of market turns: Candlecharts can send out reversal signals in a few sessions, rather than the weeks often needed for a bar chart reversal signal. Thus, market turns with candlestick charts will frequently be in advance of traditional indicators. This will help you to enter and exit the market with better timing.
* Furnish unique market insights: Candle charts not only show the trend of the move, as does a bar chart, but, unlike bar charts, candlestick charts also show the force underpinning the move.
* Enhance Western charting analysis: Any Western technical tool you now use can also be used on a candlestick chart. Candle charts, however, will give you timing and trading benefits not available with bar charts. This merging of Eastern and Western analysis will give you a jump on those who use only traditional Western charting techniques.

Featured Book:

Steve Nison, CMT, the author of two previous volumes on candlesticks, and an educator, trader, and seminar speaker, has written a basic workbook on the fundamentals of candlestick charting and how to interpret and use only the most significant patterns. I attended one of his Nison's candlestick workshops at an investor expo, as well as reviewed his video and found them to be excellent educational vehicles.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How to Think Like Warren Buffett, Part 3

Buffett's thoughts on using earnings per share (EPS) as the holy grail of a company's performance:
"Earnings per share, of course, increased somewhat (about 20%) but we regard this as an improper figure upon which to focus. We had substantially more capital to work with in 1979 than in 1978, and our performance in utilizing that capital fell short of the earlier year, even though per-share earnings rose. "Earnings per share" will rise constantly on a dormant savings account or on a U.S. Savings Bond bearing a fixed rate of return simply because "earnings" (the stated interest rate) are continuously plowed back and added to the capital base. Thus, even a "stopped clock" can look like a growth stock if the dividend payout ratio is low.

A snapshot of Berkshire Hathaway's success in Buffett's first 15 years at the helm:
"The book value per share of Berkshire Hathaway on September 30, 1964 (the fiscal yearend prior to the time that your present management assumed responsibility) was $19.46 per share. At yearend 1979, book value with equity holdings carried at market value was $335.85 per share."

Buffett's not jumping for joy, though, as he notes the high inflation of the times was eating up much of the gain:
"If we should continue to achieve a 20% compounded gain - not an easy or certain result by any means - and this gain is translated into a corresponding increase in the market value of Berkshire Hathaway stock as it has been over the last fifteen years, your after-tax purchasing power gain is likely to be very close to zero at a 14% inflation rate.


One friendly but sharp-eyed commentator on Berkshire has pointed out that our book value at the end of 1964 would have bought about one-half ounce of gold and, fifteen years later, after we have plowed back all earnings along with much blood, sweat and tears, the book value produced will buy about the same half ounce."

On when a bargain is not a bargain:
"Both our operating and investment experience cause us to conclude that "turnarounds" seldom turn, and that the same energies and talent are much better employed in a good business purchased at a fair price than in a poor business purchased at a bargain price."

A line I like (I won't go into the context within the letter; it speaks for itself):
"You do not adequately protect yourself by being half awake while others are sleeping."

In 1979, Berkshire Hathaway debuted on the NASDAQ:
"During 1979, NASDAQ trading was initiated in the stock of Berkshire Hathaway This means that the stock now is quoted on the Over-the-Counter page of the Wall Street journal under "Additional OTC Quotes". Prior to such listing, the Wall Street journal and the Dow-Jones news ticker would not report our earnings, even though such earnings were one hundred or more times the level of some companies whose reports they regularly picked up."

On shareholders:
"The reasoning of managements that seek large trading activity in their shares puzzles us. In effect, such managements are saying that they want a good many of the existing clientele continually to desert them in favor of new ones - because you can't add lots of new owners (with new expectations) without losing lots of former owners."

On having a small team with each member carrying big responsibilities:
"This approach produces an occasional major mistake that might have been eliminated or minimized through closer operating controls. But it also eliminates large layers of costs and dramatically speeds decision-making. Because everyone has a great deal to do, a very great deal gets done."

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, & Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.

How to Think Like Warren Buffett, Part 2

In 1978, operating earnings were up 19.4%, although Buffett with candor says this is not sustainable, as the insurance business was already hitting a downturn in 1979.

As usual, Buffett offers up his basic investment philosophy:
"We make no attempt to predict how security markets will behave; successfully forecasting short term stock price movements is something we think neither we nor anyone else can do. In the longer run, however, we feel that many of our major equity holdings are going to be worth considerably more money than we paid, and that investment gains will add significantly to the operating returns of the insurance group.

Buffett shows support for Berkshire's textile businesses, which are a drag on earnings:
(1) our textile businesses are very important employers in their
communities, (2) management has been straightforward in reporting on problems and energetic in attacking them, (3) labor has been cooperative and understanding in facing our common problems, and (4) the business should average modest cash returns relative to investment. As long as these conditions prevail - and we expect that they will - we intend to continue to support our textile business despite more attractive alternative uses for capital.

While its insurance companies have contributed mightily to earnings, Buffett is honest in his assessment of expanding the business:
"We continue to look for ways to expand our insurance operation. But your reaction to this intent should not be unrestrained joy. Some of our expansion efforts - largely initiated by your Chairman have been lackluster, others have been expensive failures. We entered the business in 1967 through purchase of the segment which Phil Liesche now manages, and it still remains, by a large margin, the best portion of our insurance business.

Buffett on people's propensity to buy high and sell low:
(An irresistible footnote: in 1971, pension fund managers invested a record 122% of net funds available in equities - at full prices they couldn't buy enough of them. In 1974, after the bottom had fallen out, they committed a then record low of 21% to stocks.)

Buffett is known to wait a long time before jumping on a company or stock, but then going in with both feet, as he proves when he says:
Our policy is to concentrate holdings. We try to avoid buying a little of this or that when we are only lukewarm about the business or its price. When we are convinced as to attractiveness, we believe in buying worthwhile amounts.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, & Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.

How to Think Like Warren Buffett, Part 1

Everyone loves Warren Buffett. More important, everyone wants to be rich like Warren Buffett, me included. So, in the first installment of this 29-part series, I am combing through all of Warren Buffett's annual Letters to Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Today I analyze 1977 to see what secrets Buffett knew way back when.

(By the way, if you want one of those nifty Berkshire Hathaway hats like that you see in this post, go to Berkshire Wear. I receive no compensation if you do, not even a lousy beach towel.)

Here we go:

In 1977, Berkshire Hathaway made $22.54 per share in 1977 on $21,904,000 in operating earnings. Pretty good, yes?

One of the things you have to admire about Buffett is his no-dance honesty:
The textile business again had a very poor year in 1977. We have mistakenly predicted better results in each of the last two years. This may say something about our forecasting abilities, the nature of the textile industry, or both.

An entrepreneurial lesson comes when Buffett discusses the insurance business:
It is comforting to be in a business where some mistakes can be made and yet a quite satisfactory overall performance can be achieved. In a sense, this is the opposite case from our textile business where even very good management probably can average only modest results. One of the lessons your management has learned - and, unfortunately, sometimes re-learned - is the importance of being in businesses where tailwinds prevail rather than headwinds.

On securities investments made by Berkshire Hathaway's insurance companies, classic Buffett:
We select our marketable equity securities in much the same way we would evaluate a business for acquisition in its entirety. We want the business to be (1) one that we can understand, (2) with favorable long-term prospects, (3) operated by honest and competent people, and (4) available at a very attractive price. We ordinarily make no attempt to buy equities for anticipated favorable stock price behavior in the short term. In fact, if their business experience continues to satisfy us, we welcome lower market prices of stocks we own as an opportunity to acquire even more of a good thing at a better price.

Looking at this letter from 28+ years ago, what hits me is that Warren Buffett's style hasn't changed, and it's this consistency that has created the long-term success that Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have enjoyed.

Want to think like Warren Buffett? The lesson from '77 is to be consistent in your investing style, whether you are big enough to buy other companies or just buy shares of them on the open market.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, & Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10.

Monday, November 27, 2006


All currencies are traded in pairs and each is assigned with an abbreviation. Here are some of them:

Currency Abbreviations (Table 1)
US Dollar
British Pound
Japanese Yen
Swiss Franc
Australian Dollar
Canadian Dollar
New Zealand Dollar
Singapore Dollar
The rate at which currencies are exchanged one for another is called the currency exchange rate. For example, "EUR/USD exchange rate is 1.2505" means that one Euro is exchanged for 1.2505 US Dollars.

The exchange rate of any currency is usually given as the Bid price (left) and the Ask price (right). The Bid price represents what will be obtained in the quote currency (US Dollar in our example) when selling one unit of the base currency (Euro in our example). The Ask price represents what has to be paid in the quote currency (US Dollar in our example) to obtain one unit of the base currency (Euro in our example). The difference between the Bid and the Ask price is referred to as the spread.

1.0 lot size for different currency pairs (Table 2)
1.0 lot size
1 pip
EUR 100,000
USD 100,000
GBP 100,000
USD 100,000
AUD 100,000
USD 100,000
EUR 100,000
EUR 100,000
EUR 100,000
GBP 100,000
GBP 100,000
EUR 100 000
EUR 100 000
NZD 100,000
USD 100,000
CHF 100,000
Calculating profit/loss

For example, EUR/USD exchange rate is 1.2505/1.2509 and your leverage is 1:100. You believe that EUR/USD will go up and buy 0.1 lot (minimum contract size) of EUR/USD at 1.2509 (Ask price) - for the contract size refer to Table 2. As we can see from Table 2, 1.0 lot of EUR/USD is 100,000 EUR, which means that 0.1 lot (our example deal size) is 10,000 EUR.

So, you buy 10,000 EUR and sell 10,000*1.2509=12,509 USD. In fact to fund this position you do not have to have 12,509 USD but only 125.09 USD.

Why trade Forex?

Why trade Forex? Why do Forex trading instead of trading in stock markets or futures?

There are numerous reasons why you should learn to trade the Forex. Without a doubt Forex trading is gaining its popularity nowadays where people tends to start their SOHO and work freely at home. To be clear on the issues, listed below are some of the major benefits in Forex trading:

High Leverage Margin
Forex brokers offer trade margin of 50, 100, 150, or even 200 to 1 of trade margin. Forex traders often find themselves controlling a huge sum of money with little cash outlay on the table. For example, a $1,000 in a 150:1 Forex account will gives you the purchase power of $150,000 in the currency market.

While certainly not for everyone, the substantial leverage available from online currency trading firms is a powerful, moneymaking tool. Rather than merely loading up on risk as many people incorrectly assume, leverage is essential in the Forex market. This is because the average daily percentage move of a major currency is less than 1%, whereas a stock can easily have a 10% price move on any given day.

Equal Prospective in Rising or Falling Market Trend
There is no structural bias to the market and there are no restrictions on short selling in FX market. Trading in Forex gives you an equal prospective in rising and falling market. As trades are always done in pair of currency pairs, Forex traders can always find chance to make money in anytime, regardless on the fall or rise period of one single country currency.

Trade Forex 24 hours a day
Forex market never sleeps. In Forex trading, you do not need to wait the market to open, you can always response to world latest movement and news immediately.

Every Sunday 5.00pm in New York, Forex market starts its week from Sydney, followed by Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and New York. In Forex tradng, you can always response to the market trend a lot faster than in any other trading market. Also, with the flexibility of Forex market trading time, you can work on your trade in Forex during your free time.

Trade Forex anywhere from the world virtually
A computer with Internet connection plus an active Forex account are sufficient for you to execute a trade in Forex market. Professional Forex traders have the privilege to travel around the world but yet still connected to the market anytime, anywhere. The freedom of this is something you could not get else where by being an employee of a cooperation.

High Liquidity Market
Turnover value in Forex is $1.9 trillion per day. It is the largest trade market in the world and the liquidity of the market is huge. Traders can easily cash in or cash out their capital in Forex market.


What is Forex?

The foreign exchange market, often referred to as forex, is the market for the various currencies of the world. It is a market which, at its core, is rooted in global trade. Goods and services are exchanged 24 hours a day all over the world. Those transactions done across national borders require payments in non-domestic currencies.

For example, a US company purchases widgets from a Mexican company. To do the transaction, one of two things is going to happen. The US firm may, depending on the contract terms, make payment in Mexican Pesos. That would require a conversion of Dollars in to Pesos to make payment. Alternately, the payment could be made in Dollars, in which case the Mexican company would then exchange the Dollars for Pesos on their end. Either way, there is going to be some transaction which takes Dollars and swaps them for Pesos.

That is where the forex market comes in. Transactions like that take place all the time. The market maintains a rate of exchange between the US Dollar and the Mexican Peso (and between and amongst all other world currencies) to facilitate that activity. Consider the amount of global trade which takes place and you can see why the forex market is the biggest in the world, dwarfing all others. Literally trillions of dollars worth of forex transactions take place each and every day.

How is the Forex Market Different?
There are some significant differences between the forex market and others like the stock market. While it may be the feeling that a good trader should be able to handle any market, the fact of the matter is that some structural differences in forex can require a different trading approach.

For most stock traders, the first difference they will notice between the forex market and equities is timeframe. Although the hours of stock trading have been expanding in recent years, the forex market is still the only one which can truly be viewed as 24-hour. There is ready forex trading activity in all time zones during the week, and sometimes even on the weekends as well. Other markets may in fact transact 24-hours, but the volume outside their primary trading day is thin and inconsistent.

No Exchanges
The lack of an exchange is probably the next big thing that sticks out as being different in forex. While it is true that there is exchange-based forex trading in the form of futures, the primary trading takes place over-the-counter via the spot market. There is no NYSE of forex.

On the largest scale, forex transactions are done in what is referred to as the inter-bank market. That literally means banks trading with each other on behalf of their customers. Larger speculators also operate in the inter-bank market where they can execute multi-million dollar trades with ease. Individual traders, who generally trade in much smaller sizes, primarily do so through brokers and dealers.

This is something which can trouble stock traders. There is no central location for price data, and no real volume information is attainable. Since volume is an often reported figure in the stock market, the lack of it in spot forex trading is something which takes a bit of getting used to for those making the switch.

Transaction Processing
Also, the lack of an exchange means a difference in how trading is actually done. In the stock market an order is submitted to a broker who facilitates the trade with another broker/dealer (over-the-counter) or through an exchange. In spot forex much of the trading done by individuals is actually executed directly with their broker/dealer. That means the broker takes the other side of the trade. This is not always the case, but is the most common approach.

Transaction Costs
The lack of an exchange and the direct trade with the broker creates another difference between stock and forex trading. In the stock market brokers will generally charge a commission for each buy and sell transaction you do. In forex, though, most brokers do not charge any commissions. Since they are taking the other side of all the customer trades, they profit by making the spread between the bid and offer prices.

Some traders do not like the structure of the spot forex market. They are not comfortable with their broker being on the other side of their trades as they feel it presents a type of conflict of interest. They also question the safety of their funds and the lack of overall regulation. There are some worthwhile concerns, certainly, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of forex brokers are very reliable and ethical. Those that are not don't stay in business very long.

Margin Trading
The forex market is a 100% margin-based market. This is a familiar thing for those used to trading futures.

In fact, spot forex trading is essentially trading a 2-day forward (futures) contract. You do not take actual possession of any currency, but rather have a theoretical agreement to do so in the future. That puts you in a position of benefiting from prices changes. For that your broker requires a deposit on your trades to provide surety against any losses you may incur. How much of a deposit can vary. Some brokers will asked for as little as 1/2%. That is fairly aggressive, though. Expect 1%-2% on the value of the position in most cases.

Now, unlike the stock market, margin trading does not mean margin loans. Your broker will not be lending you money to buy securities (at least not the way a stock broker does). As such, there is no margin interest charged. In fact, since you are the one putting money on deposit with your broker, you may earn interest in your margin funds.

Interest Rate Carry (Rollover)
When trading forex, one is essentially borrowing one currency, converting it in to another, and depositing it. This is all done on an overnight basis, so the trader is paying the overnight interest rate on the borrowed currency and at the same time earning the overnight rate on the currency being held. This means the trader is either paying out or receiving interest on their position, depending on whether the interest rate differential is for or against them.

This is commonly handled is what is referred to as a rollover. Spot forex trades are done on a trading day basis, and as such are technically closed out at the end of each day. If you are holding your position longer than that, your broker rolls you forward in to a new position for the next trading day. This is generally done transparently, but it does mean that at the end of each day you will either pay or receive the interest differential on your position.

The type of trader you are and the way your broker handles rollover will be the deciding factors in determining whether the interest rate differentials are an important concern for you. Some brokers will not apply the day's interest differential value on positions closed out during the trading day. By that I mean if you were to enter a position at 10am and exit at 2pm, no interest would come in to play. If you were to open a position on Monday and close it on Tuesday, though, you would have the interest for Monday applied (the full day regardless of when you entered the position), but nothing for Tuesday. (Note: There is at least one broker who calculates interest on a continuous basis, so you will always make or pay the interest differential on all positions, no matter when you put them on or took them off).

It should also be noted that although some folks will claim there is no rollover in forex futures, the interest rate spread is definitely factored in. You can see this when comparing the futures prices with the spot market rates. As the futures contracts approach their delivery date their prices will converge with the spot rate so that the holders will pay or receive the differential just as if they had been in a spot position.

Fixed income traders know that central bankers, like the Federal Reserve, are active in the markets, buying and selling securities to influence prices, and thereby interest rates. This is not something which happens in stocks, but it does in the forex markets. This is known as intervention. It happens when a central bank or other national monetary authority buys or sells currency in the market with the objective of influencing exchange rates.

Intervention is most often seen at times when exchange rates get a bit out of hand, either falling or rising too rapidly. At those times, central banks may step in to try to nullify the trend. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.

The US has traditionally taken a hands-off approach when it comes to the value of the Dollar, preferring to allow the markets to do their thing. Others are not quite so willing to let speculators determine their currency's value. The Bank of Japan has the most active track record in that regard.

By John Forman

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Two Ways to Trade

There are two basic approaches to analyzing the currency market, fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The fundamental analyst concentrates on the underlying causes of price movements, while the technical analyst studies the price movements themselves.

Technical Analysis
Technical analysis focuses on the study of price movements. Historical currency data is used to forecast the direction of future prices. The premise of technical analysis is that all current market information is already reflected in the price of that currency; therefore, studying price action is all that is required to make informed trading decisions. The primary tools of the technical analyst are charts. Charts are used to identify trends and patterns in order to find trading opportunities. The most basic concept of technical analysis is that markets have a tendency to trend. Being able to identify trends in their earliest stage of development is the key to technical analysis.

Fundamental Analysis
Fundamental analysis focuses on the economic, social and political forces that drive supply and demand. Fundamental analysts look at various macroeconomic indicators such as economic growth rates, interest rates, inflation, and unemployment. However, there is no single set of beliefs that guide fundamental analysis. There are several theories as to how currencies should be valued.

Technical Analysis or Fundamental Analysis?
Technical analysts can follow many currencies at one time. Fundamental analysts, however, tend to specialize due to the overwhelming amount of data in the market. Technical analysis works well because the currency market tends to develop strong trends. Once technical analysis is mastered, it can be applied with equal ease to any time frame or currency traded.

Forex Trading Basics

The global foreign exchange market is the biggest market in the world. The USD 1.2 trillion daily turnover dwarfs the combined turnover of all the world's stock and bond markets.

There are many reasons for the popularity of foreign exchange trading, but among the most important are the leverage available, the high liquidity 24 hours a day and the very low dealing costs associated with trading.

Of course many commercial organisations participate purely due to the currency exposures created by their import and export activities, but the main part of the turnover is accounted for by financial institutions. Investing in foreign exchange remains predominantly the domain of the big professional players in the market - funds, banks and brokers. Nevertheless, any investor with the necessary knowledge of the market's functions can benefit from the advantages stated above.

Margin Trading
Foreign exchange is normally traded on margin. A relatively small deposit can control much larger positions in the market. For trading the main currencies, SaxoBank requires a 1% margin deposit. This means that in order to trade one million dollars, you need to place just USD 10,000 by way of security.

In other words, you will have obtained a gearing of up to 100 times. This means that a change of, say 2%, in the underlying value of your trade will result in a 200% profit or loss on your deposit. See below for specific examples. As you can see, this calls for a very disciplined approach to trading as both profit opportunities and potential risks are very large indeed. Please refer to our page Forex Rates & Conditions for current Spreads, Margins and Conditions!

Base Currency and Variable Currency
When you trade, you will always trade a combination of two currencies. For example, you will buy US dollars and sell Euro. Or buy Euro and sell Japanese yen, or any other combination of dozens of widely traded currencies. But there is always a long (bought) and a short (sold) side to a trade, which means that you are speculating on the prospect of one of the currencies strengthening in relation to the other.

The trade currency is normally, but not always, the currency with the highest value. When trading US dollars against German marks, the normal way to trade is buying or selling a fixed amount of US dollars, i.e. USD 1,000,000. When closing the position, the opposite trade is done, again USD 1,000,000. The profit or loss will be apparent in the change of the amount of Euro credited and debited for the two transactions. In other words, your profit or loss will be denominated in Euro, which is known as the price currency.

This way of trading is different to the futures markets, for example, where the marks, francs and yen are the fixed trade currency, resulting in a US dollar denominated profit or loss. You can, however, also choose to trade in this reciprocal manner in foreign exchange markets but it is not the norm.

Dealing Spread, but No Commissions
When trading foreign exchange, you are quoted a dealing spread offering you a buying and a selling level for your trade. Once you accept the offered price and receive confirmation from our dealers, the trade is done. There is no need to call an exchange floor. There are no other time-consuming delays. This is possible due to live streaming prices, which are also a great advantage in times of fast-moving markets: You can see where the market is trading and you know whether your orders are filled or not.

The dealing spread is typically 3-5 points in normal market conditions, e.g. USD/EUR 1.7780-85. This means that you can sell US dollars against the Euro at 1.7780 and buy at 1.7785. There are no further costs, commissions or exchange fees.

This ensures that you can get in and out of your trades at very low slippage and many traders are therefore active intra-day traders, given that a typical day in USD/EUR presents price swings of 150-200 points.

Spot and forward trading
When you trade foreign exchange you are normally quoted a spot price. This means that if you take no further steps, your trade will be settled after two business days. Due to the fact that the EU investment directive does not presently cover spot foreign exchange trading we will, however, require you to swap your trade forward at least another two business days. This ensures that your trades are undertaken subject to supervision by regulatory authorities for your own protection and security. If you are a commercial customer, you may need to convert the currencies for international payments. If you are an investor, you will normally want to swap your trade forward to a later date. This can be undertaken on a daily basis or for a longer period at a time. Often investors will swap their trades forward anywhere from a week or two up to several months depending on the time frame of the investment.

Although a forward trade is for a future date, the position can be closed out at any time - the closing part of the position is then swapped forward to the same future value date.

Interest Rate Differentials
Different currencies pay different interest rates. This is one of the main driving forces behind foreign exchange trends. It is inherently attractive to be a buyer of a currency that pays a high interest rate while being short a currency that has a low interest rate.

Although such interest rate differentials may not appear very large, they are of great significance in a highly leveraged position. For example, the interest rate differential between the US dollar and the Japanese yen has been approximately 5% for several years. In a position that can be supported by a 5% margin deposit, this results in a 100% profit on capital per annum when you buy the US dollar. Of course, an even more important factor normally is the relative value of the currencies, which changed 15% from low to high during 2005 - disregarding the interest rate differential. From a pure interest rate differential viewpoint, you have an advantage of 100% per annum in your favour by being long US dollar, and an initial disadvantage of the same size by being short.

Such a situation clearly benefits the high interest rate currency and as result, the US dollar was in a strong bull market all through 2005. But it is by no means a certainty that the currency with the higher interest rate will be strongest. If the reason for the high interest rate is runaway inflation, this may undermine confidence in the currency even more than the benefits perceived from the high interest rate.

Stop-loss discipline
As you can see from the description above, there are significant opportunities and risks in foreign exchange markets. Aggressive traders might experience profit/loss swings of 20-30% daily. This calls for strict stop-loss policies in positions that are moving against you.

Fortunately, there are no daily limits on foreign exchange trading and no restrictions on trading hours other than the weekend. This means that there will nearly always be an opportunity to react to moves in the main currency markets and a low risk of getting caught without the opportunity of getting out. Of course, the market can move very fast and a stop-loss order is by no means a guarantee of getting out at the desired level.

But the main risk is really an event over the weekend, where all markets are closed. This happens from time to time as many important political events, such as G7 meetings, are normally scheduled for weekends.

For speculative trading, we always recommend the placement of protective stop-lossorders.