Each day, millions of trades are made in a currency exchange market called Forex. The word "Forex" directly stems off of the beginning of two words - "foreign" and "exchange". Unlike other trading systems such as the stock market, Forex does not involve the trading of any goods, physical or representative. Instead, Forex operates through buying, selling, and trading between the currencies of various economies from around the world. Because the Forex market is truly a global trading system, trades are made 24 hours a day, five days a week. In addition, Forex is not bound by any one control agency, which means that Forex is the only true free market economic trading system available today. By leaving the exchange rates out of any one group's hands, it is much more difficult to even attempt to manipulate or corner the currency market. With all of the advantages associated with the Forex system, and the global range of participation, the Forex market is the largest market in the entire world. Anywhere between 1 trillion and 1.5 trillion equivalent United States dollars are traded on the Forex market each and every day.
Forex operates mainly on the concept of "free-floating" currencies; this can be explained best as currencies that are not backed by specific materials such as gold or silver. Prior to 1971, a market such as Forex would not work because of the international "Bretton Woods" agreement. This agreement stipulated that all involved economies would strive to hold the value of their currencies close to the value of the US dollar, which in turn was held to the value of gold. In 1971, the Bretton Woods agreement was abandoned. The United States had run a huge deficit during the Vietnam Conflict, and began printing out more paper currency than they could back with gold, resulting in a relatively high level of inflation. By 1976, every major currency worldwide had left the system established under the Bretton Woods agreement, and had changed into a free-floating system of currency. This free-floating system meant that each country's currency could have vastly different values that fluctuated based on how the country's economy was faring at that time.