1 158 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER OUTLINE 74 Function and Structure of the FOREX Market FX Market Participants Correspondent Banking Relationships The Spot Market Spot Rate Quotations The Bid-Ask Spread Spot FX Trading Cross-Exchange Rate Quotations Alternative Expressions for the Cross-Exchange Rate The Cross-Rate Trading Desk Triangular Arbitrage Spot Foreign Exchange Market Microstructure The Forward Market Forward Rate Quotations Long and Short Forward Positions Forward Cross-Exchange Rates Swap Transactions Forward Premium Summary Key Words Questions Problems Internet Exercises MINI CASE: Shrewsbury Herbal Products, Ltd. References and Suggested Readings This is the website of the Bank for International Settlements. Many interesting reports and statistics can be obtained here. The report titled Triennial Central Bank Survey can be downloaded for study. The Market for Foreign Exchange MONEY REPRESENTS PURCHASING power. Possessing money from your country gives you the power to purchase goods and services produced (or assets held) by other residents of your country. But to purchase goods and services produced by the residents of another country generally first requires purchasing the other country s currency. This is done by selling one s own currency for the currency of the country with whose residents you desire to transact. More formally, one s own currency has been used to buy foreign exchange, and in so doing the buyer has converted his purchasing power into the purchasing power of the seller s country. The market for foreign exchange is the largest financial market in the world by virtually any standard. It is open somewhere in the world 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The 2001 triennial central bank survey compiled by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) places worldwide daily trading of spot and forward foreign exchange at $1.2 trillion dollars per day. This is equivalent to nearly $200 in transactions for every person on earth. This, however, represents a 19 percent decrease over The decline is due to the introduction of the common euro currency, which eliminates the need to trade one euro zone currency for another to conduct business transactions, and to consolidation within the banking industry. London remains the world s largest foreign exchange trading center. According to the 2001 triennial survey, daily trading volume in the U.K. is estimated at $504 billion, a 21 percent decrease from U.S. daily turnover was $254 billion, which represents a 28 percent decline from Exhibit 4.1 presents a pie chart showing the shares of global foreign exchange turnover. Broadly defined, the foreign exchange (FX or FOREX) market encompasses the conversion of purchasing power from one currency into another, bank deposits of foreign currency, the extension of credit denominated in a foreign currency, foreign trade financing, trading in foreign currency options and futures contracts, and currency swaps. Obviously, one chapter cannot adequately cover all these topics. Consequently, we confine the discussion in this chapter to the spot and forward market for foreign exchange. In Chapter 9, we examine currency futures and options contracts, and in Chapter 10, currency swaps are discussed. This chapter begins with an overview of the function and structure of the foreign exchange market and the major market participants that trade currencies in this market. Following is a discussion of the spot market for foreign exchange. This section covers how to read spot market quotations, derives cross-rate quotations, and develops the concept of triangular arbitrage as a means of ensuring market efficiency. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the forward market for foreign exchange. Forward market quotations are presented, the purpose of the market is discussed, and the purpose of swap rate quotations is explained.
2 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 159 EXHIBIT 4.1 Shares of Reported Global Foreign Exchange Turnover, 2001 Netherlands 2% Canada 3% France 3% Australia 4% Hong Kong SAR 5% Switzerland 5% United Kingdom 33% Sweden 2% Denmark 2% Italy 1% Germany 6% Singapore 7% United States 17% Countries with shares less than 1% not included. This is the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The on-line article titled The Basics of Foreign Trade and Exchange can be downloaded for study. The report titled The Foreign Exchange and Interest Rate Derivatives Markets Survey: Turnover in the United States can also be downloaded. Japan 10% Note: Percent of total reporting foreign exchange turnover, adjusted for intracountry double-counting. Source: Foreign Currency Exchange, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, This chapter lays the foundation for much of the discussion throughout the remainder of the text. Without a solid understanding of how the foreign exchange market works, international finance cannot be studied in an intelligent manner. As authors, we urge you to read this chapter carefully and thoughtfully. Function and Structure of the FOREX Market transactions This website explains the various Reuters spot and forward FX electronic trading systems. This website explains the EBS Spot electronic dealing system. The structure of the foreign exchange market is an outgrowth of one of the primary functions of a commercial banker: to assist clients in the conduct of international commerce. For example, a corporate client desiring to import merchandise from abroad would need a source for foreign exchange if the import was invoiced in the exporter s home currency. Alternatively, the exporter might need a way to dispose of foreign exchange if payment for the export was invoiced and received in the importer s home currency. Assisting in foreign exchange transactions of this type is one of the services that commercial banks provide for their clients, and one of the services that bank customers expect from their bank. The spot and forward foreign exchange market is an over-the-counter (OTC) market; that is, trading does not take place in a central marketplace where buyers and sellers congregate. Rather, the foreign exchange market is a worldwide linkage of bank currency traders, nonbank dealers, and FX brokers who assist in trades connected to one another via a network of telephones, telex machines, computer terminals, and automated dealing systems. Reuters and EBS are the largest vendors of quote screen monitors used in trading currencies. The communications system of the foreign exchange market is second to none, including industry, governments, the military, and national security and intelligence operations. Twenty-four-hour-a-day currency trading follows the sun around the globe. Three major market segments can be identified: Australasia, Europe, and North America. Australasia includes the trading centers of Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bahrain; Europe includes Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London; and North America includes New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Most trading rooms operate over a 9- to 12-hour working day, 75
3 160 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 76 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT EXHIBIT 4.2 The Circadian Rhythms of the FX Market Electronic conversations per hour (Monday Friday, ) 45,000 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 Avg Peak A.M. Lunch Europe Asia Lunch Americas London Afternoon New Zealand 6 P.M. Tokyo in hour coming going hour coming going in coming in coming Tokyo in Tokyo in out in London in out America in New York in Note: Time ( hours, Greenwich Mean Time). Source: Sam Y. Cross, All About the Foreign Exchange Market in the United States, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, although some banks have experimented with operating three eight-hour shifts in order to trade around the clock. Especially active trading takes place when the trading hours of the Australasia centers and the European centers overlap and when the European and North American centers overlap. More than half of the trading in the United States occurs between 8:00 A.M. and noon eastern standard time (1:00 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. Greenwich Mean Time [London]), when the European markets were still open. Certain trading centers have a more dominant effect on the market than others. For example, trading diminishes dramatically in the Australasian market segment when the Tokyo traders are taking their lunch break! Exhibit 4.2 provides a general indication of the participation level in the global FX market by showing electronic trades per hour. FX Market Participants The market for foreign exchange can be viewed as a two-tier market. One tier is the wholesale or interbank market and the other tier is the retail or client market. FX market participants can be categorized into five groups: international banks, bank customers, nonbank dealers, FX brokers, and central banks. International banks provide the core of the FX market. Approximately 100 to 200 banks worldwide actively make a market in foreign exchange, that is, they stand willing to buy or sell foreign currency for their own account. These international banks serve their retail clients, the bank customers, in conducting foreign commerce or making international investment in financial assets that require foreign exchange. Bank customers broadly include MNCs, money managers, and private speculators. According to 2001 BIS statistics, retail or bank client transactions account for approximately 13 percent of FX trading volume. The other 87 percent of trading volume is from interbank trades between international banks or nonbank dealers. Nonbank dealers are large nonbank financial institutions such as investment banks, whose size and frequency of trades make it cost-effective to establish their own dealing rooms to trade directly in the interbank market for their foreign exchange needs. In 2001, nonbank dealers accounted for 28 percent of interbank trading volume. Part of the interbank trading among international banks involves adjusting the inventory positions they hold in various foreign currencies. However, most interbank trades are speculative or arbitrage transactions, where market participants attempt to correctly judge the future direction of price movements in one currency versus another or attempt to profit from temporary price discrepancies in currencies between competing dealers. Market psychology is a key ingredient in currency trading, and a dealer can often infer another s trading intention from the currency position being accumulated.
4 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 161 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 77 FX brokers match dealer orders to buy and sell currencies for a fee, but do not take a position themselves. Brokers have knowledge of the quotes offered by many dealers in the market. Consequently, interbank traders will use a broker primarily to disseminate as quickly as possible a currency quote to many other dealers. In recent years, since the introduction and increased usage of electronic dealing systems, the use of brokers has declined because the computerized systems duplicate many of the same services at much lower fees. The BIS reports that among major currency pairs about percent of turnover is conducted through electronic dealing systems. One frequently sees or hears news media reports that the central bank (national monetary authority) of a particular country has intervened in the foreign exchange market in an attempt to influence the price of its currency against that of a major trading partner, or a country that it fixes or pegs its currency against. Intervention is the process of using foreign currency reserves to buy one s own currency in order to decrease its supply and thus increase its value in the foreign exchange market, or alternatively, selling one s own currency for foreign currency in order to increase its supply and lower its price. Recall from Chapter 2 that systematic intervention by member states of the European Union through the Exchange Rate Mechanism was a key ingredient in the operation of the European Monetary System, whose purpose was to maintain stability in the exchange rates between member states. Central banks of major industrialized countries also frequently intervene in the foreign exchange market to influence the value of their currency relative to a trading partner. For example, intervention that successfully increases the value of one s currency against a trading partner may reduce exports and increase imports, thus alleviating persistent trade deficits of the trading partner. Central bank traders intervening in the currency market often lose bank reserves in attempting to accomplish their goal. However, there is little evidence that even massive intervention can materially affect exchange rates. The International Finance in Practice box on page 78 provides an interesting account of a central bank trader for the Bank of Japan. Correspondent Banking Relationships The interbank market is a network of correspondent banking relationships, with large commercial banks maintaining demand deposit accounts with one another, called correspondent banking accounts. The correspondent bank account network allows for the efficient functioning of the foreign exchange market. EXAMPLE 4.1: Correspondent Banking Relationship As an example of how the network of correspondent bank accounts facilitates international foreign exchange transactions, consider U.S. Importer desiring to purchase merchandise from Dutch Exporter invoiced in euros, at a cost of 512,100. U.S. Importer will contact his U.S. Bank and inquire about the /$ exchange rate. Say U.S. Bank offers a price of /$1.00. If U.S. Importer accepts the price, U.S. Bank will debit U.S. Importer s demand deposit account $500, ,100/ for the purchase of the euros. U.S. Bank will instruct its correspondent bank in the euro zone, EZ Bank, to debit its correspondent bank account 512,100 and to credit that amount to Dutch Exporter s bank account. U.S. Bank will then debit its books 512,100, as an offset to the $500,000 debit to U.S. Importer s account, to reflect the decrease in its correspondent bank account balance with EZ Bank. This rather contrived example assumes that U.S. Bank and Dutch Exporter both have bank accounts at EZ Bank. A more realistic interpretation is to assume that EZ Bank represents the entire euro zone banking system. Additionally, the example implies some type of communication system between U.S. Bank and EZ Bank. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) allows
5 162 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange INTERNATIONAL FINANCE IN PRACTICE Fearless Dealers Central-Bank Traders Have an Advantage: Their Employers Don t Demand Profits Tokyo Tetsuya Nishida says his wife will be relieved when he gets his next assignment at the Bank of Japan. Right now, the 32-year-old Mr. Nishida is a front-line soldier in the central bank s struggle to rein in the currency markets. He s one of nine currency traders at the Bank of Japan s cluttered, second-floor trading desk in downtown Tokyo. It s a grueling job; Mr. Nishida starts watching the markets when he wakes at 6 A.M. and often doesn t finish work until 11 P.M. The past year, Mr. Nishida s trades often haven t been the least bit profitable. But that s part of his mission. Of all central banks, the Bank of Japan has battled currency speculators the hardest. By some estimates, it bought more than $50 billion of dollars in the two years ended March 31, 1988, even though the dollar kept falling in value. With only limited success, Mr. Nishida and his colleagues were selling valuable yen in hopes of braking the dollar s fall. A shy, conservatively dressed man, Mr. Nishida never set out to be a big-time currency trader. He was an English major at Sophia University in Japan, unlike most Bank of Japan employees, who studied law or economics at prestigious Tokyo University. When Mr. Nishida joined the central bank, he headed into the more tranquil research department. That job let him hone his English for a year at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But the Bank of Japan s tradition is to rotate employees through a wide range of departments. That s a big contrast with, say, the U.S. or West German central banks, which prefer to have lifetime currency dealers. So in June 1987, Mr. Nishida s turn came up. Trading currencies is just one step in one s overall career at the bank, says Zenta Nakajima, head of the foreign-exchange division at the Bank of Japan. We don t train [dealers]. They ve got to pick up expertise while they re here. Mr. Nishida took quickly to his new setting. This is the only place in the bank where you can get a real sense of market activities, he says. Upon awakening on a typical day, Mr. Nishida scans the newspapers and television for news of overnight markets and heads for the office. Before an 8 A.M. meeting, he reads the overnight messages from central banks around the world and phones dealers at Japanese and foreign banks in Tokyo. Mr. Nishida won t talk about his trades, but centralbank dealers often trade in $10 million or bigger chunks. On a busy day, they can pound the market with as much as $500 million or $1 billion of total buying or selling. An advantage of working for a central bank, as opposed to a private bank, is that dealers don t have to worry about turning a profit. The important thing for central bankers is to be able to part with dollars or yen and not look back, says Richard Koo, senior economist at the Nomura Research Institute. Their strength in the market comes from the fact that they can toss dollars and yen and not suffer losses. Other traders fear those who have nothing to lose, Mr. Koo adds. Recent market conditions suggest that the Bank of Japan s dollar-buying binge has earned some vindication. Exchange-rate stability of a sort has been achieved, and the Japanese economy is growing briskly with little threat of inflation. As for Mr. Nishida, he says he faces plenty of stress but survives by always trying to look ahead. I don t continue to be sorry for things already done, he says. We may make some mistakes. But my motto is to forget about what isn t necessary. Source: Kathryn Graven, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 1988, p. R31. Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, 1988 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. international commercial banks to communicate instructions of the type in this example to one another. SWIFT is a private nonprofit message transfer system with headquarters in Brussels, with intercontinental switching centers in the Netherlands and Virginia. The Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS) in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank System, called Fedwire, provides a clearinghouse for the interbank settlement of U.S. dollar payments between international banks. Returning to our example, suppose U.S. Bank first needed to purchase euros in order to have them for transfer to Dutch Exporter. U.S. Bank can use CHIPS for settling the purchase of euros for dollars from, say, Swiss Bank, with instructions via SWIFT to Swiss Bank to deposit the euros in its account with EZ Bank and to EZ Bank to transfer ownership to Dutch Exporter. The transfer between Swiss Bank and EZ Bank would in turn be accomplished through correspondent bank accounts or through a European clearinghouse. 78
6 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 163 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 79 EXHIBIT 4.3 Average Daily Foreign Exchange Turnover by Instrument and Counterparty Instrument/Counterparty Turnover in USD (000) Percent Spot $386, With reporting dealers 217, With other financial institutions 111,482 9 With nonfinancial customers 58,334 5 Outright Forwards 130, With reporting dealers 52,354 4 With other financial institutions 40,798 3 With nonfinancial customers 37,423 3 Foreign Exchange Swaps 655, With reporting dealers 418, With other financial institutions 176, With nonfinancial customers 60,109 5 Total $1,173, Note: Turnover is net of local and cross-border interdealer double-counting. Estimated gaps in reporting of $27,000,000 brings the total to approximately $1,200,000,000, the estimated daily average turnover figure. Source: Tabulated from data in Table E.1.1 in the Triennial Central Bank Survey, Bank for International Settlements, Basle, March The Spot Market In August 1995, Exchange Clearing House Limited (ECHO), the first global clearinghouse for settling interbank FOREX transactions, began operation. ECHO was a multilateral netting system that on each settlement date netted a client s payments and receipts in each currency, regardless of whether they are due to or from multiple counterparties. Multilateral netting eliminates the risk and inefficiency of individual settlement. In 1997, CLS Services Limited merged with ECHO. Currently, operation of the system has been suspended. The spot market involves almost the immediate purchase or sale of foreign exchange. Typically, cash settlement is made two business days (excluding holidays of either the buyer or the seller) after the transaction for trades between the U.S. dollar and a non North American currency. For regular spot trades between the U.S. dollar and the Mexican peso or the Canadian dollar, settlement takes only one business day. 1 According to BIS statistics, spot foreign exchange trading accounted for 33 percent of FX trades in Exhibit 4.3 provides a detailed analysis of foreign exchange turnover by instrument and counterparty. Spot Rate Quotations Spot rate currency quotations can be stated in direct or indirect terms. To understand the difference, let s refer to Exhibit 4.4. The exhibit shows currency quotations by bank dealers from Reuters and other sources as of 4:00 P.M. eastern time for Friday, August 16, and Monday, August 19, The first two columns provide direct quotations from the U.S. perspective, that is, the price of one unit of the foreign currency priced in U.S. dollars. For example, the Monday spot quote for one British pound was $ (Forward quotations for one-, three-, and six-month contracts, which will be discussed in a following section, appear directly under the spot quotations for four currencies.) The second two columns provide indirect quotations from the U.S. perspective, that is, the price of one U.S. dollar in the foreign currency. For example, in the third column, we see that the Monday spot quote for one dollar in British pound sterling was Obviously, the direct quotation from the U.S. perspective is an 1 The banknote market for converting small amounts of foreign exchange, which travelers are familiar with, is different from the spot market.
7 164 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 80 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT EXHIBIT 4.4 Exchange Rates Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2002, p. C14. Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, 2002 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. indirect quote from the British viewpoint, and the indirect quote from the U.S. perspective is a direct quote from the British viewpoint. It is common practice among currency traders worldwide to both price and trade currencies against the U.S. dollar. For example, BIS statistics indicate that in 2001, 90 percent of currency trading in the world involved the dollar on one side of the transaction. In recent years, however, the use of other currencies has been increasing, especially in dealing done by smaller regional banks. For example, in Europe many European currencies were traded against the deutsche mark. Overall, in 2001, 38 percent of all currency trading worldwide involved the euro on one side of the transaction. With respect to other major currencies, 23 percent involved the Japanese yen, 13 percent the British pound, 6 percent the Swiss franc, and 5 percent the Canadian dollar. Exhibit 4.5 provides a detailed analysis of foreign exchange turnover by currency. Most currencies in the interbank market are quoted in European terms, that is, the U.S. dollar is priced in terms of the foreign currency (an indirect quote from the U.S. perspective). By convention, however, it is standard practice to price certain currencies in terms of the U.S. dollar, or in what is referred to as American terms (a direct quote from the U.S. perspective). Prior to 1971, the British pound was a nondecimal currency; that is, a pound was not naturally divisible into 10 subcurrency units. Thus, it was cumbersome to price decimal currencies in terms of the pound. By necessity, the practice developed of pricing the British pound, as well as the Australian dollar, New
8 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 165 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 81 EXHIBIT 4.5 Average Daily Foreign Exchange Turnover by Currency against All Other Currencies Currency Turnover Stated in USD (000) Percent U.S. dollar $1,060, Euro 441, Japanese yen 266, Pound sterling 155, Swiss franc 71,053 6 Canadian dollar 52,274 5 Australian dollar 49,653 4 Other currencies 249, Total double-counted $2,346, Total not double-counted $1,173, Note: Since there are two sides to each transaction, each currency is reported twice. Turnover is net of local and cross-border interdealer double-counting. Estimated gaps in reporting of $27,000,000 brings the total to approximately $1,200,000,000, the estimated daily average turnover figure. Source: Tabulated from data in Table E.1.1 in the Triennial Central Bank Survey, Bank for International Settlements, Basle, March Zealand dollar, and Irish punt, in terms of decimal currencies, and this convention continues today. When the common euro currency was introduced, it was decided that it also would be quoted in American terms. To the uninitiated, this can be confusing, and it is something to bear in mind when examining currency quotations. In this textbook, we will use the following notation for spot rate quotations. In general, S(j/k) will refer to the price of one unit of currency k in terms of currency j. Thus, the American term quote from Exhibit 4.4 for British pounds on Monday, August 19, is S($/ ) The corresponding European quote is S( /$) When the context is clear as to what terms the quotation is in, the less cumbersome S will be used to denote the spot rate. It should be intuitive that the American and European term quotes are reciprocals of one another. That is, 1 S($/ ) S( /$) (4.1).6548 and 1 S( /$) S($/ ) (4.2) The Bid-Ask Spread Up to this point in our discussion, we have ignored the bid-ask spread in FX transactions. Interbank FX traders buy currency for inventory at the bid price and sell from inventory at the higher offer or ask price. Consider the Reuters quotations from Exhibit 4.4. What are they, bid or ask? In a manner of speaking, the answer is both, depending on whether one is referring to the American or European term quotes. Note the wording directly under the Exchange Rates title. The key to our inquiry is the sentence that reads: Retail transactions provide fewer units of foreign currency per dollar. The word provide implies that the quotes in the third and fourth columns under the Currency per U.S. $ heading are buying, or bid quotes. Thus the European term quotations are interbank bid prices.
9 166 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 82 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT To be more specific about the /$ quote we have been using as an example, we can specify that it is a bid quote by writing S( /$ b ).6548, meaning the bank dealer will bid, or pay, for one U.S. dollar. However, if the bank dealer is buying dollars for British pound sterling, it must be selling British pounds for U.S. dollars. This implies that the $/ quote we have been using as an example is an ask quote, which we can designate as S($/ a ) That is, the bank dealer will sell one British pound for $ Returning to the reciprocal relationship between European and American term quotations, the recognition of the bid-ask spread implies: 1 S($/ a ) (4.3) S( /$ b ) In American terms, the bank dealer is asking $ for one British pound; that means the bank dealer is willing to pay, or bid, less. Interbank bid-ask spreads are quite small. Let s assume the bid price is $ less than the ask; thus S($/ b ) Similarly, the bank dealer will want an ask price in European terms greater than its bid price. The reciprocal relationship between European and American term quotes implies: 1 S( /$ a ) S($/ (4.4) b ) Thus, the bank dealer s ask price of per U.S. dollar is indeed greater than its bid price of Spot FX Trading Examination of Exhibit 4.4 indicates that for most currencies, quotations are carried out to four decimal places in both American and European terms. However, for some currencies (e.g., the Japanese yen, Slovakian koruna, South Korean won) quotations in European terms are carried out only to two or three decimal places, but in American terms the quotations may be carried out to as many as eight decimal places (see, for example, the Turkish lira). In the interbank market, the standard-size trade among large banks in the major currencies is for the U.S.-dollar equivalent of $10,000,000, or ten dollars in trader jargon. Dealers quote both the bid and the ask, willing to either buy or sell up to $10,000,000 at the quoted prices. Spot quotations are good for only a few seconds. If a trader cannot immediately make up his mind whether to buy or sell at the proffered prices, the quotes are likely to be withdrawn. In conversation, interbank FX traders use a shorthand abbreviation in expressing spot currency quotations. Consider the $/ bid-ask quotes from above, $ $ The 1.52 is known as the big figure, and it is assumed to be known by all traders. The second two digits to the right of the decimal place are referred to as the small figure. Since spot bid-ask spreads are typically around 5 points, it is unambiguous for a trader to respond with when asked what is his quote for British pound sterling. Similarly, 97 to 02 is a sufficient response for a quote of $ $1.5302, where the big figures are 1.52 and 1.53, respectively, for the bid and ask quotes. The establishment of the bid-ask spread will facilitate acquiring or disposing of inventory. Suppose most $/ dealers are trading at $ $ A trader believing the pound will soon appreciate substantially against the dollar will desire to acquire a larger inventory of British pounds. A quote of will encourage some traders to sell at the higher than market bid price, but also dissuade other traders from purchas-
10 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 167 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 83 ing at the higher offer price. Analogously, a quote of will allow a dealer to lower his pound inventory if he thinks the pound is ready to depreciate. The retail bid-ask spread is wider than the interbank spread; that is, lower bid and higher ask prices apply to the smaller sums traded at the retail level. This is necessary to cover the fixed costs of a transaction that exist regardless of which tier the trade is made in. Interbank trading rooms are typically organized with individual traders dealing in a particular currency. The dealing rooms of large banks are set up with traders dealing against the U.S. dollar in all the major currencies: the Japanese yen, euro, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc, and British pound, plus the local currency if it is not one of the majors. Individual banks may also specialize by making a market in regional currencies or in the currencies of less-developed countries, again all versus the U.S. dollar. Additionally, banks will usually have a cross-rate desk where trades between two currencies not involving the U.S. dollar are handled. It is not uncommon for a trader of an active currency pair to make as many as 1,500 quotes and 400 trades in a day. 2 In smaller European banks accustomed to more regional trading, dealers will frequently quote and trade versus the euro. A bank trading room is a noisy, active place. Currency traders are typically young, high-energy people, who are capable of interpreting new information quickly and making high-stakes decisions. The International Finance in Practice box on pages 84 85, entitled Young Traders Run Currency Markets, depicts the sense of excitement and the electric atmosphere one finds in a bank dealing room. Cross-Exchange Rate Quotations Let s ignore the transaction costs of trading temporarily while we develop the concept of a cross-rate. A cross-exchange rate is an exchange rate between a currency pair where neither currency is the U.S. dollar. The cross-exchange rate can be calculated from the U.S. dollar exchange rates for the two currencies, using either European or American term quotations. For example, the / cross-rate can be calculated from American term quotations as follows: S($/ ) S( / ) (4.5) S($/ ) where from Exhibit 4.4, S( / ) That is, if 1.00 cost $ and 1.00 cost $0.9764, the cost of 1.00 in euros is In European terms, the calculation is S( /$) S( / ) (4.6) S( /$) Analogously, S($/ ) S( / ) (4.7) S($/ ) These numbers were obtained during a discussion with the manager of the spot trading desk at the New York branch of the UBS.
11 168 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange INTERNATIONAL FINANCE IN PRACTICE Young Traders Run Currency Markets NEW YORK Surrounded by flashing currency prices, ringing phones and screaming traders, Fred Scala offers his view of people who use economic analysis to forecast currency rates. They may be right, he says, but they don t know how to pull the trigger. Mr. Scala knows how. At age 27, he is Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. s top dealer in German marks. Yesterday morning alone, he traded about $500 million in marks, darting in and out of the market 100 times. As the dollar inched up, he bought. As it retreated, he sold. We re mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, he says. We have no alliances. We work for the bank. Currency traders like Mr. Scala are riding high these days. As politicians dicker about what to do about the dollar after last month s stock-market crash, young traders at the world s top 30 to 50 banks hold day-today control of the currency markets. And unlike their shell-shocked counterparts at stock-trading desks, currency dealers are making nearly all the right bets. Bravo for Lira Trader A look at Manufacturers Hanover s trading desk shows this trading mentality in firm command. As traders arrive yesterday at 7 A.M., the lira trader, Scott Levy, gets a hero s welcome. He had bought $55 million of lira the night before, switched some of it into German marks, and benefited from a rising mark in overnight Asian trading. I did quite well, he tells colleagues, as he takes his seat. A Hong Kong trader woke him up at home with a 4 A.M. phone call but helped Mr. Levy unwind his position at a profit of more than $165,000. Other traders greet him with high five handslaps, like a football player who has just scored a touchdown. The next 90 minutes are consumed by a blizzard of trades with European banks. Computerized dealing systems let traders do business with London, Frankfurt or Zurich by the push of a button, without even a phone call. Typically, Manufacturers Hanover will buy five dollars trader jargon for $5 million then resell it at a razor-thin profit margin seconds later. At 9:03 A.M., the first of the day s big news headlines hits the screen. U.S. Commerce Under Secretary Says Dollar Is Now Competitive, a new monitor reports. That s good for the dollar, says Mr. Remigio. He and Mr. Scala buy $10 million at a rate of marks. Moments later, a senior bank trader walks by and asks why the dollar is rising. Mr. Remigio starts to explain the new views expressed by the Commerce under secretary. What the hell does he know? another trader snaps. The issue is settled. In a flurry of four transactions, Manufacturers Hanover dumps the $10 million it just bought, and sells another $8 million as well. It gets rates ranging from to marks. The slight gain from its purchase price is infinitesimal to anyone but a currency trader. To Messrs. Scala and Remigio, it is $500 quick profit for the bank. Difficult Stretch About 1 P.M., the mark traders encounter their one difficult stretch of the day. They have sold dollars, expecting further drops. But the dollar is inching up. Mr. Scala twirls his phone cord around his finger and taps his feet. Mr. Remigio slams his phone down, snarling: It s up, it s up, it s going up. Rather than fight the momentary trend, the traders begin buying dollars. The dollar is going uptown, Mr. Remigio declares. He holds his new positive position on the dollar for only a brief spell, but profits from it as well. All morning, calls from incoming banks and customers light up dealers phone boards, which hold 120 direct phone lines. Only around 11 A.M. does the most important phone line the one in the bottom left-hand corner, begin blinking at Manufacturers Hanover s mark desk. It is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, agent for the U.S. government. And for a moment, Mr. Scala doesn t see the line light up. When that line comes in, you ve got to pick it up quick, Mr. Remigio chides his partner. They could be wanting to deal. The New York Fed in fact deals with any of a dozen big New York banks when it enters the market to buy or sell currconv This subsite at the CNN and Money magazine website provides a currency converter. As an example, use the converter to calculate the current S( / ) and S( / ) cross-exchange rates. and S( / ) S( /$)/S( /$) (4.8).6548/ Equations 4.5 to 4.8 imply that given N currencies, one can calculate a triangular matrix of the N (N 1)/2 cross-exchange rates. Daily in the Financial Times appear the 36 cross-exchange rates for all pair combinations of nine currencies and stated as S(j/k) and S(k/j). Exhibit 4.6 presents an example of the table for Monday, August 19,
12 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 169 currencies, and it often doesn t let one bank know about its dealings with another. This time the Fed just wants information about the dollar. It goes up. It goes down. It goes all around, the Fed s trader asks over the phone. What s going on? Reading Fed Signals Mr. Scala tries to offer a quick summary of market activity. Then he asks the Fed: Is there any level you want me to call you back at? With his low-key question, Mr. Scala is trying to get at perhaps the most important piece of information in the foreign-exchange market. Traders one big worry currently is that if the dollar falls too fast, the Fed and foreign central banks may barge in with big buy orders to prop up the dollar. If a trader knows what dollar rate worries the Fed, he can better prepare for any possible intervention. Yeah, says the Fed trader. Call me if it gets to A little later, the dollar does slip to that level. Mr. Scala calls the Fed. But instead of placing a big buy order, the Fed trader just says: Call me back if it goes much lower. Around this time, Manufacturers Hanover s mark traders back off from some bearish market positions they have taken against the dollar. But that is straightforward profit-taking, the traders say, unrelated to the Fed s call. The trading frenzy continues until about noon New York time, when the European trading day ends. Only then can Manufacturers New York traders relax. It s like a ball and chain, complains James Young, senior sterling trader. I can t go out to lunch. For their efforts, the mark traders break even after making about 200 trades involving nearly $1 billion. The bank s entire currency-trading operation did better however, bringing in a profit of about $300,000 for the day. While young traders are in the front lines, big banks like Manufacturers Hanover have top managers looking over their shoulders, setting position limits and trying to make sure the bank doesn t get stuck with unexpected losses. But the foreign-exchange market has grown so fast, and takes such a toll on traders, that there are few veterans. Mr. Remigio, the 27-year-old No. 2 mark trader, received an M.B.A. from Hofstra University before coming to Manufacturers Hanover a couple of years ago. His colleague, Mr. Scala, has only a high-school diploma. Mr. Scala has something more valuable to the bank, though: nearly a decade of experience. He started as a broker s clerk, then advanced to trading when he was all of 20. Individual traders, many still in their 20s, earn more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonus. The Role of Luck But there are no illusions about succeeding on skill alone around the trading room. Within reach of nearly every trader is a good-luck charm. At the desk where Japanese yen are traded, dealers can rub the tummy of a cherubic statuette or slap a bobbing-head doll representing Japan s rising sun. It then cries out, in Japanese: Try, you can do it! The Japanese writing on a headband wrapped around a speaker phone reads: We re definitely going to win! Traders joke that for them, 10 minutes is a long-term outlook. One of Manufacturers Hanover s economists, Marc M. Goloven, says he can sense the difference when he visits trading floors to get a feel for market trends. When I sit down there, I can feel the tension rising, he says. That s tough duty. I sympathize with them. His one quibble, he says, is that many traders aren t attuned to looking at [economic] fundamentals as much as we think they should. Down in the trading room, the traders generally agree. I like to see what the economist thinks, but he s thinking long-term, says James Young, Manufacturer s top sterling trader. And there are 13 floors between here and long-term. Bank officials doubt that the dollar s decline is over. It isn t un-american to sell dollars and profit from the currency s decline, Mr. Young says. It s how the game is played. The dollar s chronic slump is worrying for the U.S. economy, adds Mr. Remigio. But there s no room at the trading desk for sentimentality. I don t like seeing the dollar down here, he says. My money doesn t buy as much when I travel overseas. But in trading, if the thing s going down, I m going to sell it. Source: Charles W. Stevens, The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 1987, p. 26. Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal, 1987 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Alternative Expressions for the Cross-Exchange Rate For some purposes, it is easier to think of cross-exchange rates calculated as the product of an American term and a European exchange rate rather than as the quotient of two American term or two European term exchange rates. For example, substituting S( /$) for 1/S($/ ) allows Equation 4.5 to be rewritten as: S( / ) S($/ ) S( /$) (4.9) where the difference from is due to rounding. 85
13 170 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 86 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT EXHIBIT 4.6 Exchange Cross Rates Aug 19 C$ DKr Y NKr SKr SFr $ Canada (C$) Denmark (DKr) Euro ( ) Japan (Y) Norway (NKr) Sweden SKr) Switzerland (SFr) UK ( ) USA ($) Danish Kroner, Norwegian Kroner and Swedish Kronor per 10; Yen per 100 Source: Financial Times, August 20, 2002, p. 21. Source: FT derived from WM Reuters In general terms, S(j/k) S($/k) S(j/$) (4.10) and taking reciprocals of both sides of Equation 4.10 yields S(k/j) S(k/$) S($/j) (4.11) The Cross-Rate Trading Desk Earlier in the chapter, it was mentioned that most interbank trading goes through the dollar. Suppose a bank customer wants to trade out of British pound sterling into Swiss francs. In dealer jargon, a nondollar trade such as this is referred to as a currency against currency trade. The bank will frequently (or effectively) handle this trade for its customer by selling British pounds for U.S. dollars and then selling U.S. dollars for Swiss francs. At first blush, this might seem ridiculous. Why not just sell the British pounds directly for Swiss francs? To answer this question, let s return to Exhibit 4.6 of the cross-exchange rates. Suppose a bank s home currency was one of the nine currencies in the exhibit and that it made markets in the other eight currencies. The bank s trading room would typically be organized with eight trading desks, each for trading one of the nondollar currencies against the U.S. dollar. A dealer needs only to be concerned with making a market in his nondollar currency against the dollar. However, if each of the nine currencies was traded directly with the others, the dealing room would need to accommodate 36 trading desks. Or worse, individual traders would be responsible for making a market in several currency pairs, say, the /$, /, and /SF, instead of just the /$. As Grabbe (1996) notes, this would entail an informational complexity that would be virtually impossible to handle. Banks handle currency against currency trades, such as for the bank customer who wants to trade out of British pounds into Swiss francs, at the cross-rate desk. Recall from Equation 4.10 that a S(SF/ ) quote can be obtained from the product of S($/ ) and S(SF/$). Recognizing transaction costs implies the following restatement of Equation 4.10: S(SF/ b ) S($/ b ) S(SF/$ b ) (4.12) The bank will quote its customer a selling (bid) price for the British pounds in terms of Swiss francs determined by multiplying its American term bid price for British pounds and its European term bid price (for U.S. dollars) stated in Swiss francs. Taking reciprocals of Equation 4.12 yields S( /SF a ) S( /$ a ) S($/SF a ) (4.13) which is analogous to Equation In terms of our example, Equation 4.13 says the bank could alternatively quote its customer an offer (ask) price for Swiss francs in
14 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 171 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 87 terms of British pounds determined by multiplying its European term ask price (for U.S. dollars) stated in British pounds by its American term ask price for Swiss francs. Triangular Arbitrage Certain banks specialize in making a direct market between nondollar currencies, pricing at a narrower bid-ask spread than the cross-rate spread. Nevertheless, the implied cross-rate bid-ask quotations imposes a discipline on the nondollar market makers. If their direct quotes are not consistent with cross-exchange rates, a triangular arbitrage profit is possible. Triangular arbitrage is the process of trading out of the U.S. dollar into a second currency, then trading it for a third currency, which is in turn traded for U.S. dollars. The purpose is to earn an arbitrage profit via trading from the second to the third currency when the direct exchange rate between the two is not in alignment with the cross-exchange rate. EXAMPLE 4.2: Calculating the Cross-Exchange Rate Bid-Ask Spread Let s assume (as we did earlier) that the $/ bid-ask prices are $ $ and the /$ bid-ask prices are Let s also assume the $/ bid-ask prices are $ $ and the /$ bid-ask prices are These bid and ask prices and Equation 4.12 imply that S( / b ) The reciprocal of S( / b ), or Equation 4.13, implies that S( / a ) Analogously, Equation 4.13 suggests that S( / a ) , and its reciprocal implies that S( / b ) That is, the / bid-ask prices are and the / bid-ask prices are Note that the cross-rate bid-ask spreads are much larger than the American or European bid-ask spreads. For example, the / bidask spread is versus a /$ spread of $ The / bid-ask spread is versus the $/ spread of $0.0005, which is a sizable difference since a British pound is priced in excess of one dollar. The implication is that cross-exchange rates implicitly incorporate the bid-ask spreads of the two transactions that are necessary for trading out of one nondollar currency and into another. Hence, even when a bank makes a direct market in one nondollar currency versus another, the trade is effectively going through the dollar because the currency against currency exchange rate is consistent with a cross-exchange rate calculated from the dollar exchange rates of the two currencies. Exhibit 4.7 provides a more detailed presentation of cross-rate foreign exchange transactions. EXAMPLE 4.3 Taking Advantage of a Triangular Arbitrage Opportunity To illustrate a triangular arbitrage, assume the cross-rate trader at Deutsche Bank notices that Crédit Lyonnais is buying dollars at S( /$ b ) , the same as Deutsche Bank s bid price. Similarly, he observes that Barclays is offering dollars at S($/ b ) , also the same as Deutsche Bank. He next finds that Crédit Agricole is making a direct market between the euro and the pound, with a current ask price of S( / a ) The cross-rate formula and the American and European term quotes (as we saw above) imply that the / bid price should be no lower than S( / b ) Yet Crédit Agricole is offering to sell British pounds at a rate of only ! A triangular arbitrage profit is available if the Deutsche Bank traders are quick enough. A sale of $5,000,000 to Crédit Lyonnais for euros will yield 5,120,000 $5,000, The 5,120,000 will be resold to Crédit Agricole for 3,286,264 5,120,000/ Likewise, the British pounds will be resold to Barclays for $5,017,139 3,286, , yielding an arbitrage profit of $17,139. continues
15 172 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 88 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT EXHIBIT 4.7 Cross-Rate Foreign Exchange Transactions American Terms European Terms Bank Quotations Bid Ask Bid Ask British pounds Euros a. Bank Customer wants to sell 1,000,000 for euros. The Bank will sell U.S. dollars (buy British pounds) for $ The sale yields Bank Customer: 1,000, $1,526,700. The Bank will buy dollars (sell euros) for The sale of dollars yields Bank Customer: $1,526, ,563,341. Bank Customer has effectively sold British pounds at a / bid price of 1,563,341/ 1,000, / b. Bank Customer wants to sell 1,000,000 for British pounds. The Bank will sell U.S. dollars (buy euros) for The sale yields Bank Customer: 1,000,000 1,0245 $976,086. The Bank will buy dollars (sell British pounds) for $ The sale of dollars yields Bank Customer: $976, ,134. Bank Customer has effectively bought British pounds at a / ask price of 1,000,000/ 639, / From parts (a) and (b), we see the currency against currency bid-ask spread for British pounds is EXAMPLE 4.3 Continued Obviously, Crédit Agricole must raise its asking price above / The cross-exchange rates (from Exhibit 4.7) gave / bid-ask prices of These prices imply that Crédit Agricole can deal inside the spread and sell for less than , but not less than An ask price of , for example, would eliminate the arbitrage profit. At that price, the 5,120,000 would be resold for 3,273,657 5,120,000/1.5640, which in turn would yield only $4,997,892 3,273, , or a loss of $2,108. In today s high-tech FX market, many FX trading rooms around the world have developed in-house software that receives a digital feed of real-time FX prices from the EBS Spot electronic broking system to explore for triangular arbitrage opportunities. Just a couple of years ago, prior to the development of computerized dealing systems, the FX market was considered too efficient to yield triangular arbitrage profits! Exhibit 4.8 presents a diagram and a summary of this triangular arbitrage example. Spot Foreign Exchange Market Microstructure Market microstructure refers to the basic mechanics of how a marketplace operates. Five recent empirical studies on FX market microstructure shed light on the operation of the spot FX marketplace. Huang and Masulis (1999) study spot FX rates on DM/$ trades over the October 1, 1992 to September 29, 1993, period. They find that bid-ask spreads in the spot FX market increase with FX exchange rate volatility and decrease with dealer competition. These results are consistent with models of market microstructure. They also find that the bid-ask spread decreases when the percentage of large dealers in the marketplace increases. They conclude that dealer competition is a fundamental determinant of the spot FX bid-ask spread. Lyons (1998) tracks the trading activity of a DM/$ trader at a large New York bank over a period of five trading days. The dealer he tracks was extremely profitable over
16 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 173 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 89 EXHIBIT 4.8 Triangular Arbitrage Example $ Barclays S($/ b ) = Crédit Lyonnais S( /$ b ) = Crédit Agricole S( / a ) = $ 5,000, ,120, ,286, $ 5,017,139 $ 5,000,000 $ 17,139 Deutsche Bank arbitrage strategy Sell U.S. dollars for euros Sell euros for British pounds Sell British pounds for U.S. dollars Arbitrage profit the study period, averaging profits of $100,000 per day on volume of $1 billion. Lyons is able to disentangle total trades into those that are speculative and those that are nonspeculative, or where the dealer acts as a financial intermediary for a retail client. He determines that the dealer s profits come primarily from the dealer s role as an intermediary. This makes sense, since speculative trading is a zero-sum game among all speculators, and in the long-run it is unlikely that any one trader has a unique advantage. Interestingly, Lyons finds that the half-life of the dealer s position in nonspeculative trades is only 10 minutes! That is, the dealer typically trades or swaps out of a nonspeculative position within 20 minutes. Ito, Lyons, and Melvin (1998) study the role of private information in the spot FX market. They examine /$ and DM/$ between September 29, 1994, and March 28, Their study provides evidence against the common view that private information is irrelevant, since all market participants are assumed to possess the same set of public information. Their evidence comes from the Tokyo foreign exchange market, which prior to December 21, 1994, closed for lunch between noon and 1:30 P.M. After December 21, 1994, the variance in spot exchange rates increased during the lunch period relative to the period of closed trading. This was true for both /$ and DM/$ trades, but more so for the /$ data, which is to be expected since /$ trading is more intensive in the Tokyo FX market. Ito, Lyons, and Melvin attribute these results to a greater revelation of private information in trades being allocated to the lunch hour. This suggests that private information is, indeed, an important determinant of spot exchange rates. Cheung and Chinn (2001) conducted a survey of U.S. foreign exchange traders and received 142 usable questionnaires. The purpose of their survey was to elicit information about several aspects of exchange rate dynamics not typically observable in trading data. In particular they are interested in traders perceptions about news events innovations in macroeconomic variables that cause movements in exchange rates. The traders they survey respond that the bulk of the adjustment to economic
17 174 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 90 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT The Forward Market announcements regarding unemployment, trade deficits, inflation, GDP, and the Federal funds rate takes place within one minute. In fact, about one-third of the respondents claim that full price adjustment takes place in less than 10 seconds! They also find that central bank intervention does not appear to have a substantial impact on exchange rates, but intervention does increase market volatility. Dominguez (1998) confirms this latter finding. In conjunction with spot trading, there is also a forward foreign exchange market. The forward market involves contracting today for the future purchase or sale of foreign exchange. The forward price may be the same as the spot price, but usually it is higher (at a premium) or lower (at a discount) than the spot price. Forward exchange rates are quoted on most major currencies for a variety of maturities. Bank quotes for maturities of 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months are readily available. Quotations on nonstandard, or brokenterm, maturities are also available. Maturities extending beyond one year are becoming more frequent, and for good bank customers, a maturity extending out to 5, and even as long as 10 years, is possible. Forward Rate Quotations To learn how to read forward exchange rate quotations, let s examine Exhibit 4.4. Notice that forward rate quotations appear directly under the spot rate quotations for four major currencies (the British pound, Canadian dollar, Japanese yen, and Swiss franc) for one-, three-, and six-month maturities. As an example, the settlement date of a three-month forward transaction is three calendar months from the spot settlement date for the currency. That is, if today is September 3, 2003, and spot settlement is September 5, then the forward settlement date would be December 5, 2003, a period of 93 days from September 3. In this textbook, we will use the following notation for forward rate quotations. In general, F N (j/k) will refer to the price of one unit of currency k in terms of currency j for delivery in N months. N equaling 1 denotes a one-month maturity based on a 360-day banker s year. Thus, N equaling 3 denotes a three-month maturity. When the context is clear, the simpler notation F will be used to denote a forward exchange rate. Forward quotes are either direct or indirect, one being the reciprocal of the other. From the U.S. perspective, a direct forward quote is in American terms. As examples, let s consider the American term Swiss franc forward quotations in relationship to the spot rate quotation for Monday, August 19, We see that: S($/SF).6653 F 1 ($/SF).6660 F 3 ($/SF).6670 F 6 ($/SF).6684 From these quotations, we can see that in American terms the Swiss franc is trading at a premium to the dollar, and that the premium increases out to six months, the further the forward maturity date is from August 19. European term forward quotations are the reciprocal of the American term quotes. In European terms, the corresponding Swiss franc forward quotes to those stated above are: S(SF/$) F 1 (SF/$) F 3 (SF/$) F 6 (SF/$) From these quotations, we can see that in European terms the dollar is trading at a discount to the Swiss franc and that the discount increases out to six months, the further the forward maturity date is from August 19. This is exactly what we should expect, since the European term quotes are the reciprocals of the corresponding American term quotations.
18 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 175 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 91 Long and Short Forward Positions One can buy (take a long position) or sell (take a short position) foreign exchange forward. Bank customers can contract with their international bank to buy or sell a specific sum of FX for delivery on a certain date. Likewise, interbank traders can establish a long or short position by dealing with a trader from a competing bank. Exhibit 4.9 graphs both the long and short positions for the three-month Swiss franc contract, using the American quote for August 19, 2002, from Exhibit 4.4. The graph measures profits or losses on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis shows the spot price of foreign exchange on the maturity date of the forward contract, S 3 ($/SF). If one uses the forward contract, he has locked in the forward price for forward purchase or sale of foreign exchange. Regardless of what the spot price is on the maturity date of the forward contract, the trader buys (if he is long) or sells (if he is short) at F 3 ($/SF).6670 per unit of FX. Forward contracts can also be used for speculative purposes, as the following example demonstrates. EXAMPLE 4.4: A Speculative Forward Position It is August 19, Suppose the $/SF trader has just heard an economic forecast from the bank s head economist that causes him to believe that the dollar will likely appreciate in value against the Swiss franc to a level less than the forward rate over the next three months. If he decides to act on this information, the trader will short the three-month $/SF contract. We will assume that he sells SF5,000,000 forward against dollars. Suppose the forecast has proven correct, and on November 19, 2002, spot $/SF is trading at $ The trader can buy Swiss franc spot at $ and deliver it under the forward contract at a price of $ The trader has made a speculative profit of ($ $0.6600) $ per unit, as Exhibit 4.9 shows. The total profit from the trade is $35,000 (SF5,000,000 $0.0070). If the dollar depreciated and S N was $0.6700, the speculator would have lost ($ $0.6700) $ per unit, for a total loss of $15,000 (SF5,000,000 $0.0030). EXHIBIT 4.9 Graph of Long and Short Position in the 3-Month Swiss Franc Contract F 3 ($/SF) Profit ($) + Long position S 3 ($/SF).0030 F 3 ($/SF) =.6670 F 3 ($/SF) Short position
19 176 Eun Resnick: International I. Foundations of Financial, International Financial Exchange 92 P A R T O N E FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Forward Cross- Exchange Rates Forward cross-exchange rate quotations are calculated in an analogous manner to spot cross-rates, so it is not necessary to provide detailed examples. In generic terms, F F N (j/k) N ($/k) F (4.14) N ($/j) or F F N (j/k) N (j/$) F (4.15) N (k/$) and F F N (k/j) N ($/j) F (4.16) N ($/k) or F F N (k/j) N (k/$) F (4.17) N (j/$) Swap Transactions Forward trades can be classified as outright or swap transactions. In conducting their trading, bank dealers do take speculative positions in the currencies they trade, but more often traders offset the currency exposure inherent in a trade. From the bank s standpoint, an outright forward transaction is an uncovered speculative position in a currency, even though it might be part of a currency hedge to the bank customer on the other side of the transaction. Swap transactions provide a means for the bank to mitigate the currency exposure in a forward trade. A swap transaction is the simultaneous sale (or purchase) of spot foreign exchange against a forward purchase (or sale) of approximately an equal amount of the foreign currency. Swap transactions account for approximately 56 percent of interbank FX trading, whereas outright trades are 11 percent. (See Exhibit 4.3.) Because interbank forward transactions are most frequently made as part of a swap transaction, bank dealers in conversation among themselves use a shorthand notation to quote bid and ask forward prices in terms of forward points that are either added to or subtracted from the spot bid and ask quotations. EXAMPLE 4.5: Forward Point Quotations Recall the $/ spot bid-ask rates of $ $ developed previously. With reference to these rates, forward prices might be displayed as: Spot One-Month Three-Month Six-Month When the second number in a forward point pair is smaller than the first, the dealer knows the forward points are subtracted from the spot bid and ask prices to obtain the outright forward rates. For example, the spot bid price of $ minus.0032 (or 32 points) equals $1.5235, the one-month forward bid price. The spot ask price of $ minus.0030 (or 30 points) equals $1.5242, the one-month ask price. Analogously, the three-month outright forward bid-ask rates are $ $ and the six-month outright forward bid-ask rates are $ $ The following table summarizes the calculations. 3 If the one-month forward points quotation were, say, 30 30, further elaboration from the market maker would be needed to determine if the forward points would be added to or subtracted from the spot prices. An electronic dealing system would state forward points as if they were to be subtracted.
20 Eun Resnick: International Financial, I. Foundations of International Financial Exchange 177 CHAPTER 4 THE MARKET FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE 93 Spot Forward Point Quotations Outright Forward Quotations One-Month Three-Month Six-Month Three things are notable about the outright prices. First, the pound is trading at a forward discount to the dollar. Second, all bid prices are less than the corresponding ask prices, as they must be for a trader to be willing to make a market. Third, the bid-ask spread increases in time to maturity, as is typical. These three conditions prevail only because the forward points were subtracted from the spot prices. As a check, note that in points the spot bid-ask spread is 5 points, the onemonth forward bid-ask spread is 7 points, the three-month spread is 8 points, and the six-month spread is 12 points. If the forward prices were trading at a premium to the spot price, the second number in a forward point pair would be larger than the first, and the trader would know to add the points to the spot bid and ask prices to obtain the outright forward bid and ask rates. For example, if the three-month and six-month swap points were and , the corresponding three-month and six-month bid-ask rates would be $ $ and $ $ In points, the three- and sixmonth bid-ask spreads would be 8 and 12, that is, increasing in term to maturity. Quoting forward rates in terms of forward points is convenient for two reasons. First, forward points may remain constant for long periods of time, even if the spot rates fluctuate frequently. Second, in swap transactions where the trader is attempting to minimize currency exposure, the actual spot and outright forward rates are often of no consequence. What is important is the premium or discount differential, measured in forward points. To illustrate, suppose a bank customer wants to sell dollars three months forward against British pound sterling. The bank can handle this trade for its customer and simultaneously neutralize the exchange rate risk in the trade by selling (borrowed) dollars spot against British pounds. The bank will lend the pound sterling for three months until they are needed to deliver against the dollars it has purchased forward. The dollars received will be used to liquidate the dollar loan. Implicit in this transaction is the interest rate differential between the dollar borrowing rate and the pound sterling lending rate. The interest rate differential is captured by the forward premium or discount measured in forward points. As a rule, when the interest rate of the foreign currency is greater than the interest rate of the quoting currency, the outright forward rate is less than the spot exchange rate, and vice versa. This will become clear in the following chapter on international parity relationships. Forward Premium It is common to express the premium or discount of a forward rate as an annualized percentage deviation from the spot rate. The forward premium (or discount) is useful for comparing against the interest rate differential between two countries, as we will see more clearly in Chapter 5 on international parity relationships. The forward premium or discount can be expressed in American or European terms. Obviously, if a currency is trading at a premium (discount) in American terms, it will be at a discount (premium) in European terms. EXAMPLE 4.6: Calculating the Forward Premium/Discount The formula for calculating the forward premium or discount in American terms for currency j is: F f N,jv$ N ($/j) S($/j) 360/days (4.18) S($/j) continues
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