## How many people trade forex every day? A Pareto estimate.

Written by Forex Automaton
Monday, 09 June 2008 12:08

To estimate how many people trade forex every day, we use Pareto distribution. This is a power-law, highly asymmetric distribution, encountered in many contexts, including distribution of wealth. Pareto's probability density distribution is

f(x|k,xm) = k xmkx-k-1

for x greater or equal to xm. xm is the minimum value of x, in our case -- the minimum value contributed by a trader into the total turnaround. This number defines who we call a trader for the purpose of this estimate, a threshold so to speak.

According to the definition of a mathematical expectation E[x], it is an integral of f(x|k,xm) times x from xm to infinity and

L E[x] = T

where T is the total turnaround and L is the number of trades that create it. The integral is easy to deal with for k > 1 and we obtain

L = T(k-1)/(k xm)

L = n(n-1)/2

Because n is much larger than one, n is simply

n = (2L)1/2

If such topology of trading links were the case, only about 3 thousand traders (with Pareto wealth distribution) could create our present trading volume. Such topology may be considered an idealized limit, the Holy Grail of the online trading business. The reality is probably in between these two extremes, with traders being not completely isolated, but forming relatively isolated clusters around brokers, banks, hedge funds and similar institutions. The relationships between those higher level entities are then much closer to the egalitarian model -- a tightly knit community where every member knows every other member.

If the estimates of the number of traders, given the trading volume, differ so much depending on the ogranization of the market, then the really interesting conclusion is the converse: the real reason for the spectacular growth in the forex trading volume seen in the past few years probably has at least as much to do with changes in the organization of the market as it does with purely economic reasons.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 11 September 2009 15:54 )