Forex is short for Foreign Exchange and refers to a decentralized market that spans the globe and is considered the most liquid worldwide. Exchange rates fluctuate continuously due to ever changing market forces of supply and demand. Forex traders buy a currency pair if they think the exchange rate will rise and sell it if they think the opposite will happen. Unlike the Stock market, the Forex market never sleeps and remains open around the world for 24 hours per day and 5 days a week. One thing must be evident from this discussion. There is never a cease down in the forex market. When its day for you, its night for someone else. Markets close somewhere and simultaneously, markets open somewhere else. That is what offers traders this tremendous opportunity to make some serious money.
The average Forex broker offers about 25 separate currency pairs to trade. Most of these pairs involve at least one of the major world currencies (the euro, dollar, pound or yen) although some also offer trading in a few exotic pairs as well. With so many choices at hand, it can be difficult at times for a new trader to decide upon one or two pairs to trade consistently.
This leads us to Forex; or foreign exchange market. This market exists to solely trade in the commodity of currency. Foreign countries buy and sell products and services to one another they are subject to a foreign currency trade, or the trading of one currency to another. We can now also trade and speculate on these foreign currency trades. We do this in a speculative way. Betting that the amount one currency holds today will drop tomorrow etc.
The gold standard was dropped around the beginning of World War 2 as major European countries did not have enough gold to support all the currency they were printing to pay for large military projects. Although the gold standard was ultimately dropped, the precious metal never lost its spot as the ultimate form of monetary value.
Financial institutions saw a new opportunity to make money from the increased size and volatility of the forex market. Today only a fraction of currency trading is directly related to the original purpose of facilitating cross-border trade: the rest is speculative.