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The Foreign Exchange Matrix: A new framework for understanding currency movements [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Rockefeller , Vicki Schmelzer
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The foreign exchange market is huge, fascinating and yet widely misunderstood by participants and non-participants alike. This is because its unanswered questions are numerous. For instance, what is the purpose of the $4 trillion per day trading volume? What determines currency trends and who are the players in the FX arena? Does FX drive other financial markets, or is it the passive end-product of all the other markets? FX is without clear supply and demand factors, so how do traders determine sentiment and price direction?
Much is written in an effort to answer these questions, but a lot of it is just noise. In the 12 pieces here, Barbara Rockefeller and Vicki Schmelzer draw on their combined 50 years' experience in foreign exchange to cut through the clutter and provide an elegant and razor-sharp look at this market. Their analysis is accurate, useful and enlivened by many anecdotes and examples from historic market events. They cover:
-- How the matrix concept can help observers understand foreign exchange market action
-- What professional FX traders take into consideration before entering into positions
-- Whether the FX market can be forecast
-- The interplay between foreign exchange and other financial markets
-- How technology has levelled the playing field between big and small players, and at what cost
-- Whether the prospect of reserve currency diversification away from the dollar is likely
-- The toolkit that central banks use to manage national economies and the effect of this on currencies
'The Foreign Exchange Matrix' is the go-to book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the world of foreign exchange.


Product Description

About the Author

Barbara Rockefeller is an international economist and forecaster specializing in foreign exchange. She was a pioneer in technical analysis and also in combining technical analysis with fundamental analysis. She publishes two reports daily using both techniques (www.rts-forex.com) for central banks, professional fund managers, corporate hedgers and individual traders. The trading advice newsletter has an average annual hypothetical return over 50% since inception in 1994 and has never posted a losing year. She is the author of three books on trading, including Technical Analysis for Dummies, and contributes a regular column to Currency Trader magazine. Her education includes a BA in economics from Reed College, with a year at the University of Keele in Staffordshire (UK), and MA from Columbia University in international affairs. Vicki Schmelzer has worked in the professional foreign exchange industry for over 25 years. Today she is a senior financial journalist at Market News International, with foreign exchange as her main beat. She is the creator and author of TheFXSpot a daily feature that looks at financial market happenings from the FX perspective, including fixed income, intermarket analysis, and emerging markets. Before becoming a journalist, Ms. Schmelzer worked as a senior currency dealer at major U.S. and international banks including Dresdner Bank, Citibank, Manufacturers-Hanover/Chemical Bank, and Westdeutsche Landesbank. She has appeared on ForexTV and in Alain Lasfargues' 2009 documentary The Marvelous History of the Dollar. Her education includes a BA in German (and Mathematics minor) from Clarion State University and the study abroad program with the Goethe Institut in Staufen, Germany.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2045 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Harriman House (11 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B25BPY2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,104 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book 12 Jun. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I knew this book would be good and I was right. The authors definitively explain the mechanics of the foreign exchange markets and confirmed my view that the field of economics has failed to provide a definitive formula for explaining exchange rate movements. This book will open your eyes and teach you a new way to think about the markets. If you are as fascinated by price movement as I am - you will find this book to be an invaluable tool in your armoury of weaponry for understanding and profiting from exchange rate price movements. Fabulous book - written by people who know what they're talking about. I would more than highly recommend this book to anyone who finds the subject of currency markets fascinating. this book will enrich your understanding and make you more comfortable with regard to taking risks in the markets. I love it so much - it sleeps next to me. Thank you Barbara and Vicky - you have made my world a better place.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time and money 3 April 2014
By dj
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this book based on some of the recommendations here and on the Internet to help deepen my understanding of the fx markets for my trading and quite frankly, it hasn't really helped.

The book spends a lot of time dismissing the "traditional" fx analysts and fundamentals (which I agree with to an extent) and how the markets can sometimes ignore or amplify specific fundamental news and is never consistent.The book then proceeds to do what all analysts do and post rationalise market behaviour using specific fundamentals and criteria that they THINK moved the market and thus justifying their own "matrix".

Essentially this book is a lot of hot air theory, is very dry and has very little practical use.

From personally spending a lot of time and resources, learning as much about the fx markets as I can, I have learnt one important thing (which I should have stuck to): if you are serious about trading, go find material from actual traders who have made serious money and not academics or individuals who have worked in a major bank or institution "back in the day". Those who can't do, teach
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New 19 Mar. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The FX Matrix - a new framework for understanding..."

If you are looking for some fresh cutting edge research as to how financial markets operate then please do NOT buy this book.
I wouldn't say it's a new framework at all, it's simply a merge of all currently available info regarding financial markets, for example Technical Analysis, Fundamental Analysis and the general theories of how the markets operate - I could have written this book.

Much better books available in my opinion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Soros just might like this! 27 Feb. 2013
By Bruce Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I believe George Soros is going to like this book! His theory of "reflexivity", which is his own take on the "madness of crowds" view of the market, keeps coming up as one of the primary investment approaches you need to win at - or at least understand - how the currency markets work.
The authors, Barbara Rockefeller and Vicki Schmelzer, clearly explain using dramatic examples that prove Soros' reflexivity proposition -- where Soros believes that the biases of the big market participants, such as hedge funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds, often enter into how they value the Euro or the US dollar, which in turn radically shifts the price of these instruments. The traditional ways of looking at economic fundamentals, in particular the "efficient market theory", gets run over and left at the side of the road by the biases of the big players.
The authors also adapt a concept called "matrix" theory, which, as they explain in the first chapter, is a form of sophisticated analysis that Ben Bernanke at the FED employs when trying to assess levels of country risk in the world's financial system. They use their matrix model to try and determine how the big market players like the central bankers, hedge funds, Sovereign Wealth Funds, the big interbank traders, carry traders, multinational corporations, large mutual and pension funds and ETFs, as well as retail investors, and high frequency traders, all tend to act differently to all the different types of fundamental news, the perceptions and expectations about news worthy events, as well as to important indicators in technical analysis.
One of the most interesting relationships that they refer to is how the currency traders at the largest banks, who are essentially the brokers for some of the largest hedge funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds, also often invest large speculative or proprietary accounts for the banks they work for. These big traders in turn clearly get to see how the large hedge funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds are trading before anyone else does. And obviously they sometimes act on this privileged information. Is this illegal? No it is not. The authors point out that Congress has not passed any legislation to prevent this kind of "front running".
So, given that the biggest bank traders clearly have an edge in playing the game, if we ourselves wish to profit from this kind of market behavior, ("when in Rome", do as the big bank traders do) then it makes sense to try and think like the big hedge funds, the Sovereign Wealth Funds, and the big bank traders. Do these large traders use fundamental analysis, technical analysis, or the George Soros theory of reflexivity?
Rockefeller and Schmelzer point out that the big players are much more likely to use technical analysis in making their trading decisions rather than traditional economic fundamental analysis. And the authors also show that the Soros theory of reflexivity is extremely important. And in my opinion, if we as investors can understand what particular bias or market perception that the big players are using at a particular time, than, in addition to using basic technical analysis, then we ourselves would have an edge as well. All we really need then is a good crystal ball.
The authors also do a superb job of explaining risk appetite and risk aversion, and they think that the concept of risk is of exceptional importance in understanding the currency markets as a whole. They explain this concept with a multitude of examples throughout. The biggest players most definitely react to the shifts in market sentiment concerning risk more than any other factor.
This is a thinking person's book, and I believe it deserves the full 5-star rating. Although it is not always easy reading, given the complexity of the currency markets, happily both Barbara Rockefeller and Vicki Schmelzer are both excellent writers. They "add a spoonful of sugar (to make) the medicine go down."
It's a good book. Well worth finding a place of honor on your book shelf.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for the Foreign Exchange Matrix 26 April 2013
By Scott B. MacDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Considering the size and scale of global foreign exchange (FX) markets, the importance of currency valuations to trade and investment, and the impact of wide swings in valuations on daily economic life for billions of people, any book that can provide a coherent means of understanding it all has value. Along these lines, Barbara Rockefeller and Vicki Schmelzer's The Foreign Exchange Matrix: A New Framework for Understanding Currency Movements is well worth the read.Rockefeller is an international economist and a forecaster specializing in foreign exchange, while Schmelzer is a veteran in the foreign exchange field, currently being a senior financial journalist at Market News International.

Put together in a compact 276 pages, Rockefeller and Schmelzer write in a clear, straightforward style that provides a solid context as to the hows and whys of the foreign currency markets. Before plunging into their matrix concept, the authors set the stage by noting that FX market is driven more by pure speculation and global investment flows than by economic ideas and facts; FX players "thumb their noses at the efficient market hypothesis and the concept of rational expectations; FX has a disconnect puzzle in which factors that should move the market do not (such as the three decades of persistent trade surpluses in Japan and deficits in the U.S.); and FX does not have a benchmark rate of return that traders and investors must try to match and surpass". They also believe that FX traders are vastly more disciplined than traders in other sectors, partially because they use technical analysis (that point can be disputed).

How then to deal with this uniquely different market? Rockefeller and Schmelzer use what they refer to as the FX Matrix, which is "a grid format of multiple factors and players in the FX market and the way they interact". Central to this is random matrix theory. The authors note, ""random matrix theory is borrowed from physics and used to do things like remove idiosyncratic noise from correlation studies in designing optimum portfolios, leading to better estimates of component risk." Simply stated, the matrix carefully analyzes and weights a wide range of factors and their variables to ultimately produce an idea of currency direction. Matrix theory is something used by central bankers, hedge funds, carry traders, multinational corporations and a host of others.

The book has 12 chapters, which start by identifying the key issues and work through such issues as interest rates, forecasting, positions and flows, and technical analysis. Considering the global economic volatility that has rocked markets since 2008, perhaps the most interesting chapter is about the euro. A tightly written chapter, Rockefeller and Schmelzer provide an excellent discussion as to the euro's evolution as a reserve currency and how the European sovereign debt crisis has impacted it. They note that the European Monetary Union (EMU) has devised a new "gold standard" of sovereign financial governance - monetary and fiscal excellence. Along these lines, one of the more astute observations is as follows: "It seems implausible that a new reserve currency can be born out of a single principle - control of inflation and public debt to specific levels - without all of the features and benefits of a reserve currency, especially a rockhard unwillingness to default on sovereign debt. And yet the EMU is permitting default while getting the rest of the world to name it something else and the rest of the world is willing to buy into the fiction because it is so enchanted with the new gold standard." The authors are hopeful about the euro's future, in that it "may well arrive at reserve currency status one day, just later than the founders wanted and foresaw."

The Foreign Exchange Matrix has a lot to offer for those intrigued by the global FX market. It is not for those looking for easy beach reading (unless you are a professor of finance). We strongly recommend Rockefeller and Schmelzer's book, especially for people interested in investing in the FX market and for business students, both at undergraduate and graduate levels.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Guide to Understanding Foreign Exchange 26 Feb. 2013
By Desmond MacRae - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Thoughtful readers finally have a book that describes clearly where foreign exchange fits in the financial universe, how it is priced, and why it is so difficult to forecast its prices. The authors weave the economics of exchange rate determination; the disparate, at times contrary actions political, monetary and fiscal institutions can take, and how the behavior of FX traders influences exchange rates.

Many FX books to date have noted that FX really is different from other financial instruments, but few have shown why so clearly. Most have also failed to describe how the complex (matrix) character of this collective market defeats successful applications of the universal concept of supply, demand and sentiment that is used to forecast prices in other markets.

The central notion of The Foreign Exchange Matrix is accessible enough. FX markets are affected by more sets of conditions than other markets. Changing economies, central bank policies, market conditions as well as changing sentiment and FX traders' behavior affect each currency, added to which each currency is affected by its changing relationship to many other currencies as well.

The authors admit they don't know how to pick which specific set of conditions in this matrix that determines a currency's value, nor when. The authors' also explains why without a clear understanding and acceptance of technical analysis that is anathema to fundamental analysts it will be impossible to even begin to understand how FX markets function.

This book offers a solid understanding of how to evaluate what we read and hear about FX. The book's observations should be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested by anyone who is affected by FX, which, given ever-growing global interdependence means all of us.

With some 50 years of collective foreign exchange experience, the authors offer us a broad framework for understanding an extremely complex market. The Foreign Exchange Matrix is sensible, free of ideology and well worth buying and reading most carefully. - Desmond MacRae

Readers of this review should note that I am the Chief Research Analyst for Rockefeller Treasury Services owned and operated by Barbara Rockefeller one of this book's authors with whom I have been associated for some 16 years. I did not contribute any research to the writing of this book. Please also note that I am hired on an ad hoc basis; that my compensation is minimal; and that I have always tried to be as constructively critical as possible whenever I have been hired during long association with RTS. Despite this connection, I hope that anyone who chooses to read this book will agree that the praise I have given it is fully justified.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It brought increased understanding 15 May 2013
By charles kimball - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a person indirectly involved in foreign exchange, it is really useful to understand better how full time professionals in the business think.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, conveys very deep knowledge of fx markets 21 Jan. 2014
By Scott Zimmerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been trading fx extensively for over a year. I found this book to be lucid and deep in its coverage. The authors clearly have many years of full-time hands-on experience trading fx, and they openly share it. They do not promise a magical system; they are up front mentioning situations where analyzing markets cannot be 100% complete. Nonetheless, this book taught me how to think about currencies (short- and long-term) in ways where analysis does work and I *can* realize an edge. Even a small edge is enough, and this helped my P/L significantly. My only complaint is that the first few chapters gave a neat explanation of the matrix and how to develop it, but then as they explained numerous techniques through the rest of the book, they didn't always show exactly where those plug into the matrix.
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