When it comes to forex markets, there’s one factor that trumps anything else. Many people may think economic indicators can greatly move markets. Of course, you’ll often see stories about wages, prices, etc. making a big impact.
Interest rates, however, play a major role in these market movements. Looking at it, a job report may have a big impact on FX currency pairs. But it has such an impact because of how the report can influence interest rates.
Central bankers meet almost once a month (depends on schedule from one central bank to another). The central bank’s monetary policymaking staff assesses the economy at such meetings.
Assessment requires wages, labor market, GDP growth, etc. As you can see, these economic indicators tend to influence decision-making.
Thus, while economic indicators might seem to have a big impact in one way, the reason behind this impact is how they can shift interest rate expectations.
Why should you as a trader pay attention to interest rates?
The general rule is that, as interest rates rise, they tend to increase demand for the currency. Due to higher interest rates, major investors tend to follow fixed-rate currencies.
Yet interest rates don’t just exist. Investors also tend to consider various other aspects such as geopolitical factors, economy overall stability, etc. Interest rates in large developed economies have not increased higher than 3% in recent years.
But if you look at developing economies, you can see higher interest rates. Developing economies typically have interest rates of at least 5%, if not more.
One reason for this is that developing economies tend to attract investors. In exchange for higher interest rates, developing economies can use the money to spend on infrastructure or debt financing.
There’s also a risk with higher rates. Most developing economies have no stable geopolitical scenario compared to developed economies. This in itself creates investor risk.
Returning to developed economies where interest rates aren’t that high, even 2% is sometimes considered a good return.
Investors looking for lower risk, but a slightly higher reward tends to chase higher-rate currencies.
What influences forex interest rate decisions?
A number of factors influence interest-rate decisions. It can generally depend on one central bank to another. Central banks usually have mandates. The mission can be to preserve price stability or to guarantee low unemployment.
For example, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has a dual mandate to maintain inflation and jobs. Recently, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank also began a dual mandate.
Therefore, depending on the central bank, variables may change.
Generally, a central bank begins determining the inflation rate it wants to target as well as the unemployment rate. Then it can continue affecting interest rates.
With low rates, the central bank encourages economic borrowing. This increases job creation and demand. As demand rises, you can see this demonstrated by increasing GDP, lower unemployment.
When GDP and unemployment rate are on target, that gradually raises inflation. Higher inflation arises as investors buy more commodities. Higher demand leads to higher prices.
To combat inflation, the central bank must raise interest rates. In addition, lower demand for commodities pushing down inflation. By doing so (higher interest rates and lower interest rates), the central bank can maintain or attain inflation and unemployment rates.