Double Impact of the Interest Rates on Forex

Monday, November 10, 2008
The interest rates, set by the world’s central banks, are widely used in the Forex trading. Their changes are monitored by the traders and investors because the interest rates determine the fundamental value of the currencies. It’s important for every Forex trader to understand the impact of the interest rates on the currencies he trades on. It’s easy to find the interest rate table to know their latest values, but how to interpret them?

In general, the higher the interest rate associated with the currency is, the better it’s for that currency. Higher interest rates attract investors, because they offer a higher yield. Forex traders prefer buying high-interest currencies versus the low-interest ones to gain the difference yield (such trading technique is called carry trade).

On the other hand, the lower interest rates are usually more popular among the traders when the global volatility rises and the world’s financial system experiences problems. The current financial crisis shows that the currencies with the lower yield are the favorites, because they are less risky than he high-yielding ones.

So what to do and how to react on the interest rates? The volatility index (VIX) is a good tool to measure the global interest rates preference. If it’s below the «normal» level of 30%, the high interest rates act as the attractors and the currencies that have high yield grow. If the index jumps up above that level, the traders prefer to move into the less risky assets and the low interest rate currencies gain.