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2013-03-05
Currency strength and weakness, what determines the exchange performance..


All the different currencies perform different every day because of fundamental data, overall economic performance or interest rates. We measure their strength and compare their overall performance to each other.

The basic idea behind this comparison is to buy strong currency and sell weak currency.

If currency pair AUD/USD is trending up, you are able to determine whether this happens due to AUD's strength or USD's weakness.

In determining this we are able to choose the most valuable pair to trade. We look at the top 8 currencies: EUR, USD, GBP, CHF, JPY, AUD, CAD and NZD because they represent up to 90% of the whole forex market volume. So what determines a currencies exchange rate?

Determinants of Exchange Rates

Numerous factors determine exchange rates, and all are related to the trading relationship between two countries. Remember, exchange rates are relative, and are expressed as a comparison of the currencies of two countries. The following are some of the principal determinants of the exchange rate between two countries. Note that these factors are in no particular order; like many aspects of economics, the relative importance of these factors is subject to much debate.

 

1. Differentials in Inflation As a general rule, a country with a consistently lower inflation rate exhibit a rising currency value, as its purchasing power increases relative to other currencies. During the last half of the twentieth century, the countries with low inflation included Japan, Germany and Switzerland, while the U.S. and Canada achieved low inflation only later. Those countries with higher inflation typically see depreciation in their currency in relation to the currencies of their trading partners. This is also usually accompanied by higher interest rates.

2. Differentials in Interest Rates Interest rates, inflation and exchange rates are all highly correlated. By manipulating interest rates, central banks exert influence over both inflation and exchange rates, and changing interest rates impact inflation and currency values. Higher interest rates offer lenders in an economy a higher return relative to other countries. Therefore, higher interest rates attract foreign capital and cause the exchange rate to rise. The impact of higher interest rates is mitigated, however, if inflation in the country is much higher than in others, or if additional factors serve to drive the currency down. The opposite relationship exists for decreasing interest rates - that is, lower interest rates tend to decrease exchange rates

3. Current-Account Deficits The current account is the balance of trade between a country and its trading partners, reflecting all payments between countries for goods, services, interest and dividends. A deficit in the current account shows the country is spending more on foreign trade than it is earning, and that it is borrowing capital from foreign sources to make up the deficit. In other words, the country requires more foreign currency than it receives through sales of exports, and it supplies more of its own currency than foreigners demand for its products. The excess demand for foreign currency lowers the country's exchange rate until domestic goods and services are cheap enough for foreigners, and foreign assets are too expensive to generate sales for domestic interests.

4. Public Debt Countries will engage in large-scale deficit financing to pay for public sector projects and governmental funding. While such activity stimulates the domestic economy, nations with large public deficits and debts are less attractive to foreign investors. The reason? A large debt encourages inflation, and if inflation is high, the debt will be serviced and ultimately paid off with cheaper real dollars in the future. Where will smart money strike next?

In the worst case scenario, a government may print money to pay part of a large debt, but increasing the money supply inevitably causes inflation. Moreover, if a government is not able to service its deficit through domestic means (selling domestic bonds, increasing the money supply), then it must increase the supply of securities for sale to foreigners, thereby lowering their prices. Finally, a large debt may prove worrisome to foreigners if they believe the country risks defaulting on its obligations. Foreigners will be less willing to own securities denominated in that currency if the risk of default is great. For this reason, the country's debt rating (as determined by Moody's or Standard & Poor's, for example) is a crucial determinant of its exchange rate.

5. Terms of Trade A ratio comparing export prices to import prices, the terms of trade is related to current accounts and the balance of payments. If the price of a country's exports rises by a greater rate than that of its imports, its terms of trade have favorably improved. Increasing terms of trade shows greater demand for the country's exports. This, in turn, results in rising revenues from exports, which provides increased demand for the country's currency (and an increase in the currency's value). If the price of exports rises by a smaller rate than that of its imports, the currency's value will decrease in relation to its trading partners.

6. Political Stability and Economic Performance Foreign investors inevitably seek out stable countries with strong economic performance in which to invest their capital. A country with such positive attributes will draw investment funds away from other countries perceived to have more political and economic risk. Political turmoil, for example, can cause a loss of confidence in a currency and a movement of capital to the currencies of more stable countries.

Conclusion The exchange rate of the currency in which a portfolio holds the bulk of its investments determines that portfolio's real return. A declining exchange rate obviously decreases the purchasing power of income and capital gains derived from any returns. Moreover, the exchange rate influences other income factors such as interest rates, inflation and even capital gains from domestic securities. While exchange rates are determined by numerous complex factors that often leave even the most experienced economists flummoxed, investors should still have some understanding of how currency values and exchange rates play an important role in the rate of return on their investments.

This is a lot of fundamental information and even with most traders being Technical Traders, it is a good idea to know what influences the Forex markets to move.

So next time there is some major Forex news, check out what happens to the currencies exchange performance.

For daily currency strength and weakness analysis, check out RealTrader Blog.

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