From a historical standpoint, foreign exchange trading was largely limited to governments, large companies, and hedge funds. But in today's world, trading currencies is as easy as a click of a mouse. Accessibility is not an issue, which means anyone can do it. Many investment firms, banks, and retail forex brokers offer the chance for individuals to open accounts and to trade currencies.
Rob Booker is a forex seminar entertainer, a forex "systems" marketer and he is not a successful trader. I can say this from plenty of personal experience: I attended two of his seminars, co-taught another one with him in Canada, and am mentioned in his book. Once Rob held a contest to see who could submit the most profitable system. A guy wrote an elaborate description of a "winning system" and submitted it, knowing full well that it was a system that was a guaranteed loser. Rob awarded him first place, lol, and never tested the system! Rob makes nearly all of his (big) money from selling systems-of-the-month (stuff you can easily find online.) He has not been seen on FF since professional trader Phil McGrew (look him up here--his posts are gold) made him his "buddy" and would speak the truth whenever Rob would post. Stay far away from this clown.
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Most retail investors should spend time investigating a forex dealer to find out whether it is regulated in the U.S. or the U.K. (dealers in the U.S. and U.K. have more oversight) or in a country with lax rules and oversight. It is also a good idea to find out what kind of account protections are available in case of a market crisis, or if a dealer becomes insolvent.
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Factors like interest rates, trade flows, tourism, economic strength and geopolitical risk affect supply and demand for currencies, which creates daily volatility in the forex markets. An opportunity exists to profit from changes that may increase or reduce one currency's value compared to another. A forecast that one currency will weaken is essentially the same as assuming that the other currency in the pair will strengthen because currencies are traded as pairs.
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Just like stocks, you can trade currency based on what you think its value is (or where it's headed). But the big difference with forex is that you can trade up or down just as easily. If you think a currency will increase in value, you can buy it. If you think it will decrease, you can sell it. With a market this large, finding a buyer when you're selling and a seller when you're buying is much easier than in in other markets. Maybe you hear on the news that China is devaluing its currency to draw more foreign business into its country. If you think that trend will continue, you could make a forex trade by selling the Chinese currency against another currency, say, the US dollar. The more the Chinese currency devalues against the US dollar, the higher your profits. If the Chinese currency increases in value while you have your sell position open, then your losses increase and you want to get out of the trade.
There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: the spot market, the forwards market and the futures market. The forex trading in the spot market always has been the largest market because it is the "underlying" real asset that the forwards and futures markets are based on. In the past, the futures market was the most popular venue for traders because it was available to individual investors for a longer period of time. However, with the advent of electronic trading and numerous forex brokers, the spot market has witnessed a huge surge in activity and now surpasses the futures market as the preferred trading market for individual investors and speculators. When people refer to the forex market, they usually are referring to the spot market. The forwards and futures markets tend to be more popular with companies that need to hedge their foreign exchange risks out to a specific date in the future.
Interesting. Rob is one high-profile forex 'guru' I've been loosely following for several years, and he seems to flit from system to system. For example, a few years back he was very enthusiastic about a system he called the Hopper (which was little more than a MACD crossover) which he was touting with his ladyfriend Jennifer Thornburg (who likes to write articles about Sex and Trading, btw). More recently Rob's been promoting EAs, including some that take profit quickly while allowing floating losses to snowball. Given all of this, I've never bought anything that he's been offering, and I've found it difficult to take him completely seriously.
The indicators are free (you can find them on his website), and technically there is no reason you can't use his strategies without paying him money. But I made back the $27 in one or two trades, so I'm not fussed. Watching his videos and talking to other Trifecta users has a lot of value though. Rob himself is quite active in the community and always happy to answer questions. In general he seems like a really nice guy, if sometimes annoyingly enthusiastic. He'll happily give you advice on a trade, even if it's not one of his.
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One unique aspect of this international market is that there is no central marketplace for foreign exchange. Rather, currency trading is conducted electronically over-the-counter (OTC), which means that all transactions occur via computer networks between traders around the world, rather than on one centralized exchange. The market is open 24 hours a day, five and a half days a week, and currencies are traded worldwide in the major financial centers of London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and Sydney—across almost every time zone. This means that when the trading day in the U.S. ends, the forex market begins anew in Tokyo and Hong Kong. As such, the forex market can be extremely active any time of the day, with price quotes changing constantly.