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Are banks market timers or market makers? Explaining foreign exchange trading profits

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  • John Ammer
  • Allan D. Brunner

Abstract

We analyze the foreign exchange trading earnings of large U.S commercial banks over the past several years. In particular, we use several approaches to try to determine to what extent these profits can be attributed either to position-taking by banks or to the provision of intermediation services to bank customers. The results can be summarized as follows. First, banks appear to generate a substantial portion of their foreign exchange earnings from making markets in conventional spot and forward foreign exchange contracts. In addition, some indirect evidence supports anecdotal reports that intermediation in volatility-related products (e.g., options contracts) has been a significantly profitable activity. Finally, on average, positions in currencies do not appear to contribute to profits. Tests applied to monthly and daily data on banks' portfolio positions suggest that banks cannot accurately forecast changes in exchange rates, and that these currency positions account for only a small fraction (if any) of the banks' foreign exchange earnings.

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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/1994/484/ifdp484.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 484.

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Date of creation: 1994
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:484

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Keywords: Bank profits ; Foreign exchange;

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References

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  1. Ritter, Jay R, 1988. " The Buying and Selling Behavior of Individual Investors at the Turn of the Year," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 701-17, July.
  2. Marshall Blume & Robert Stambaugh, . "Biases in Computed Returns: An Application to the Size Effect (Revision of 2-83)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 11-83, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  4. Richard Meese & Kenneth Rogoff, 1982. "The out-of-sample failure of empirical exchange rate models: sampling error or misspecification?," International Finance Discussion Papers 204, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Frankel, Jeff & Froot, Ken, 1986. "Using Survey Data to Test Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1972q8wm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Bessembinder, Hendrik, 1994. "Bid-ask spreads in the interbank foreign exchange markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 317-348, June.
  7. Jaffe, Jeffrey F, 1974. "Special Information and Insider Trading," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(3), pages 410-28, July.
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  9. Ibbotson, Roger G., 1975. "Price performance of common stock new issues," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 235-272, September.
  10. Meulbroek, Lisa K, 1992. " An Empirical Analysis of Illegal Insider Trading," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1661-99, December.
  11. Szakmary, Andrew C. & Mathur, Ike, 1997. "Central bank intervention and trading rule profits in foreign exchange markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 513-535, August.
  12. Banz, Rolf W., 1981. "The relationship between return and market value of common stocks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 3-18, March.
  13. Finnerty, Joseph E, 1976. "Insiders and Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1141-48, September.
  14. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Kenneth A. Froot, 1985. "Using Survey Data to Test Some Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," NBER Working Papers 1672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Givoly, Dan & Palmon, Dan, 1985. "Insider Trading and the Exploitation of Inside Information: Some Empirical Evidence," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(1), pages 69-87, January.
  16. Huberman, Gur & Kandel, Shmuel, 1990. "Market Efficiency and Value Line's Record," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(2), pages 187-216, April.
  17. Tauchen, George E & Pitts, Mark, 1983. "The Price Variability-Volume Relationship on Speculative Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 485-505, March.
  18. Rozeff, Michael S & Zaman, Mir A, 1988. "Market Efficiency and Insider Trading: New Evidence," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 25-44, January.
  19. Blume, Marshall E. & Stambaugh, Robert F., 1983. "Biases in computed returns : An application to the size effect," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 387-404, November.
  20. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan, 1992. " The Persistence of Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1977-84, December.
  21. Michael P. Leahy, 1994. "Bank positions and forecasts of exchange rate movements," International Finance Discussion Papers 486, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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Cited by:
  1. Benassy-Quere, A. & Larribeau, S. & MacDonald, R., 1999. "Models of Exchange Rate Expectations: Heterogeneous Evidence from Panel Data," Papers 99-02, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
  2. Richard Portes & Hélène Rey, 1998. "The emergence of the euro as an international currency," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 305-343, 04.
  3. Adrian E. Tschoegl, . "The Key to Risk Management: Management," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-42, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Michael P. Leahy, 1994. "Bank positions and forecasts of exchange rate movements," International Finance Discussion Papers 486, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Mende, Alexander & Menkhoff, Lukas, 2006. "Profits and speculation in intra-day foreign exchange trading," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 223-245, August.
  6. Benassy-Quere, Agnes & Larribeau, Sophie & MacDonald, Ronald, 2003. "Models of exchange rate expectations: how much heterogeneity?," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 113-136, April.
  7. Sandra L. Chamberlain & John S. Howe & Helen Popper, 1996. "The Exchange Rate Exposure of U.S. and Japanese Banking Institutions," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-55, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.

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