Sunday, March 11, 2012

Currency Trading at $5 Trillion a Day Surpassed Pre-Lehman High, BIS Says. By Anchalee Worrachate and David Goodman -

Currency trading may have risen to a record $5 trillion a day in September, surpassing the peak reached before Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ) Holdings Inc.’s collapse in 2008, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
Trading then declined to about $4.7 trillion a day in October and is likely to have fallen considerably in early 2012, the Basel, Switzerland-based bank said in a report. The BIS said it derived its estimates from supplementing the data in its foreign-exchange survey, which is undertaken every three years, with information collected from central banks and electronic- trading platforms.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), in Basel, Switzerland, acts as a central bank for the world’s monetary authorities. Photographer: Adrian Moser/Bloomberg
The surveys found currency trading kept increasing in the first year of the financial crisis, before reaching about $4.5 trillion a day in September 2008, shortly before Lehman’s collapse, Morten Bech, a senior economist at the BIS, wrote in the research paper. Average daily trading volume then plunged to $3 trillion in April 2009, he wrote.

“By mid-2009, global foreign-exchange activity had started to pick up again and it rose to $4 trillion a day in April 2010,” Bech wrote. “Our measure shows the foreign-exchange activity may have reached $5 trillion a day in September 2011, before dropping off considerably by the end of the year.”
Foreign-exchange trading has surged as central banks including the Federal Reserve flooded markets with cash to combat the global financial crisis. Japan intervened to help its exporters after a record earthquake and tsunami a year ago, while the Swiss central bank imposed a cap to stem franc strength in September. Efforts to boost growth by protecting exports started a “currency war,” Brazil Finance Minister Guido Mantega said in September 2010.
The dollar traded at $1.3094 per euro as of 1:57 p.m. in Tokyo today, up 0.2 percent from the close on March 9 and down 1 percent so far in 2012. The greenback slid 0.1 percent today to 82.35 yen after touching 82.65 last week, the strongest since April 27.

Increasing Volatility

Implied volatility of three-month options on Group of Seven currencies as tracked by the JPMorgan G7 Volatility Index (JPMVXYG7) climbed to 26.6 percent on Oct. 24, 2008, the highest since Bloomberg began compiling the data in 1992. The gauge reached a 15-month high of 15.8 percent on Sept. 23 before falling to as low as 9.71 on Feb. 24.
A lower figure makes investments in currencies with higher benchmark lending rates more attractive as the risk in such trades is that market moves will erase profits.
The BIS report differs from its flagship currency survey which it conducts every three years, with the next one scheduled for April 2013. In the previous survey published in September 2010, it said the average daily trading volume increased 20 percent from 2007 to $4 trillion.

‘Not True’

The BIS supplemented its survey data with information taken from central-bank sponsored industry groups in the U.K., North America, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Australia. It also took data from electronic-trading systems operated by EBS and Thomson Reuters, Hotspot FX and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
“While good and timely data are available on prices of foreign-exchange instruments, the same is not true for trading activity,” Bech wrote. “In this article, I show how it is possible to leverage alternative sources of FX activity to obtain a timelier grasp of turnover developments.”
The BIS also used data from CLS Bank, the New York-based operator of the largest currency-trading settlement system. CLS handled an average of $4.5 trillion per day in 2011, compared with $2 trillion in early 2005, according to the BIS report.
The BIS was formed in 1930 and acts as a central bank for the world’s monetary authorities. It has published a triennial survey since 1989.

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