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Opinion

FX quiz: Can you repeat the question please?

What do you get if you take a room of 150 foreign exchange professionals and quiz them on their favourite subject? The answer is a surprising number of wrong answers. At Euromoney's annual FX awards dinner in London last month, banks pitted their wits against each other in teams of 10, under the auspices of quizmaster Magnus Magnusson. Only one came anywhere close to getting full marks, so close, in fact that rivals insisted they must be the luckiest of guessers. As for the rest, not a single team knew the date of the UK's black Wednesday - September 16 1992. One of the leading American FX banks thought the currency of Ethiopia was the pound (it's the birr), and drew a blank on Kazakhstan (tenge). As if that wasn't bad enough, the closing rate of euro against the dollar on the previous day also momentarily escaped them. They did manage to recall who finished top of Euromoney's first foreign exchange poll in 1969 however.

The currencies of Ethiopia, Albania and Kazakhstan also stumped a leading European FX bank, so too did the rates for euro, Indonesian rupiah and Turkish lira in dollars. Even more staggering was their apparent belief that you could deposit euros, dollars and Icelandic kronur at Gringott's bank - a fictional financial institution.

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