Millionaires in forex

There are many who have made their fortunes in forex. The biggest haul in history is how Gorge Soros made his fortune.

No. 1: George Soros Vs. The British Pound

In 1992 British pound exchange rate versus other European currencies was fixed by the bank of England. In order to maintain that value, the bank set their interest rate at a high level, similar to the one offered by Germany. However Germany's high interest rates were appropriate for a robust economy in need for a cool down to prevent a spike in inflation. Britain was in the opposite situation, with its economy in the doldrums. A Hungarian immigrant spotted this situation, decided that it was unsustainable and sold short 10 billion pounds. He made 1.1 billion US dollars. His name is George Soros.


No. 2: Stanley Druckenmiller bets on the Mark - Twice

Stanley Druckenmiller made millions by making two long bets in the same currency while working as a trader for George Soros' Quantum Fund.

Druckenmiller's first bet came when the Berlin Wall fell. The perceived difficulties of reunification between East and West Germany had depressed the German mark to a level that Druckenmiller thought extreme. He initially put a multimillion-dollar bet on a future rally until Soros told him to increase his purchase to 2 billion German marks. Things played out according to plan and the long position came to be worth millions of dollars, helping push the returns of the Quantum Fund over 60%.

Possibly due to the success of his first bet, Druckenmiller also made the German mark an integral part of the greatest currency trade in history. A few years later, while Soros was busy breaking the Bank of England, Druckenmiller was going long in the mark on the assumption that the fallout from his boss's bet would drop the British pound against the mark. Druckenmiller was confident that he and Soros were right and showed this by buying British stocks. He believed that Britain would have to slash lending rates, thus stimulating business, and that the cheaper pound would actually mean more exports compared to European rivals. Following this same thinking, Druckenmiller bought German bonds on the expectation that investors would move to bonds as German stocks showed less growth than the British. It was a very complete trade that added considerably to the profits of Soros' main bet against the pound.


No. 3: Andy Krieger Vs. The Kiwi

In 1987, Andy Krieger, a 32-year-old currency trader at Bankers Trust, was carefully watching the currencies that were rallying against the dollar following the Black Monday crash. As investors and companies rushed out of the American dollar and into other currencies that had suffered less damage in the market crash, there were bound to be some currencies that would become fundamentally overvalued, creating a good opportunity for arbitrage. The currency Krieger targeted was the New Zealand dollar, also known as the kiwi.

Using the relatively new techniques afforded by options, Krieger took up a short position against the kiwi worth hundreds of millions. In fact, his sell orders were said to exceed the money supply of New Zealand. The kiwi dropped sharply as the selling pressure combined with the lack of currency in circulation. It yo-yoed between a 3% and 5% loss while Krieger made millions for his employers.

One part of the legend recounts a worried New Zealand government official calling up Krieger's bosses and threatening Bankers Trust to try to get Krieger out of the kiwi. Krieger later left Bankers Trust to go work for George Soros.


Year 2010

Situations like the one described before are not a black swan of the past. The press is filled with stories of currencies overvalued being restored to fair value; in the recent European crisis forex players brought the value of the Euro down when it was overvalued (from 1.3654 on April 14 2010 to 1.1925 on June 8, 2010, - 12.7% and back up again when it was oversold (from 1.1925 on June 8, 2010 to 1.3276 on August 6, 2010, + 11.3%). Central bank intervention to reach a desired value have not disappeared either, as the recent actions of the central bank of Japan and the central bank of China show.


In Sum

Predicting a fall or an increase is not a question of luck only, disciplines and strategies based on technical analysis help to understand short term fluctuations of a currency, while fair value measures, such as the Big Mac Index, help to spot currencies that are away from their underlying value and that will converge to that price in the long run.

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