FX volumes surge, but problems lurk
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Foreign Exchange

FX volumes surge, but problems lurk

Release this week of FX turnover data by a number of central banks, including the Bank of England, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of Japan, at first suggests that the market continues to boom. The data is broadly comparable to the figures released every three years by the Bank for International Settlements, although it is collected at the trading desk rather than the sales desk.

In the past, growth patterns in the data have been relatively consistent across the globe, which has allowed an easy extrapolation of the BIS numbers. This time, though, quite significant differences have emerged. For instance, the Bank of England’s Joint Standing Committee reports that turnover in London rose by an impressive 54% from a year earlier. Although the figure was slightly distorted because three more banks, Bank of Scotland, NAB and CBA, contributed data, the increase is staggering. In contrast, growth in Singapore was a measly 3% across all products.

Also, as perhaps should be expected because of the impact of the liquidity crunch, growth was not consistent across all products. Spot turnover in London increased by 67% from a year earlier to a daily average of $560 billion. However, while the option market appears to have recovered to a large extent from the previous data sample collected in October 2007, turnover, at $112 billion, was still below the level it was a year earlier ($118 billion) in April 2008.

This drop-off in options activity was even more pronounced in New York. According to the New York Fed’s FX Committee (FXC), average daily volume across all products rose 15.7%

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