What is a Carry Trade?

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The goal of a carry trade is to take advantage of the difference in interest rates between two financial instruments by borrowing or selling one and using the proceeds to buy another. The financial instrument you borrowed or sold had a low interest rate, but the financial instrument you bought had a high interest rate. The interest rate spread is where your profits will be made.

What is a carry trade?

A carry trade is an investing technique commonly used in the foreign exchange market. To make a profit, an investor will borrow money denominated in a currency with a low interest rate and then invest it in a currency with a higher interest rate.

An investor's profit from carrying (or retaining) an item like a currency or commodity for an extended time period is known as a carry trade. The risk of the deal is not contingent on the asset's growth in value.

One of the most popular ways to trade foreign exchange is through carry trades. However, it's a risky move that may only be made under specific market and investment circumstances.

Due to their wide interest rate gaps, the Australian dollar and Japanese yen, as well as the New Zealand dollar and Japanese yen, are frequently traded in foreign currency carry trades.

In a term structure where short rates are lower than long rates, for instance, long-term bonds could be purchased using funds borrowed at low short rates. The carry yield is calculated by deducting the interest on the short-term borrowing from the coupon on the bonds.

Of course, the carry trade could lose money if long-term interest rates increased suddenly (and long-term bond values decreased). Many investors could then try to sell their long-term bonds and end their carry trade if this scenario played out. This may have a multiplicative effect on the upward trend of long-term interest rates, driving them even higher. The greatest short-term interest rate in a certain country is used to determine which currency should be purchased.

A long AUD/JPY trader, who shorts Japanese yen in order to purchase Australian dollars, would theoretically stand to profit 4% per year, or 0.01% per day, if the Reserve Bank of Australia set Australian interest rates at 4% and the Bank of Japan set Japanese interest rates at 0%. The resulting disparity is the trading gain.

How to trade forex using the carry trade?

A carry trading account is needed to trade in the foreign exchange market. The EUR/USD, GBP/USD, and USD/JPY are among the most watched forex pairings by traders looking for carry trade chances. When you're ready to begin trading forex, you can open an account and get started by following the procedures outlined below.

Your gain or loss is determined by the total amount of your stake. The use of leverage will increase outcomes in both directions. It's crucial to exercise caution when taking risks, as losses may exceed your initial investment. Before you begin trading with leveraged items, be sure you have a firm grasp on the rewards and dangers of doing so. Choose the forex market with positive carry you’d like to trade

In order to trade you need to open an account to get started, or you could first practice on a demo account. Choose a trading platform and start to trade by opening, monitoring and closing positions.

Which investment strategies use carry trading?

Carry trading is risky, thus it needs experienced risk management to avoid huge losses. Global macro funds and other hedge funds utilise carry trading and may combine it with exchange rate momentum holdings.

Besides alternative investments, other investment methods may involve carry trades. Research and fundamental analysis inform managers' opinions on central bank policies and macroeconomic drivers.

Choosing a professional investment manager is crucial for sophisticated investment strategies. In addition to currency markets, carry trading is employed in commodities, fixed-income, and stock markets.

How does carry trade work?

To put it simply, the carry trade entails taking out a loan in a location with low interest rates in order to purchase a currency in a region with high interest rates, so realising a positive interest rate spread (earning a high rate while paying a low rate).

If a forex trading account has open positions with a positive or negative carry value as of the day's close, the provider will typically credit or debit the account accordingly.

However, the following calculations reveal the complex mathematics underlying carry trading's deceptive ease. Traders can use these variables to estimate the possible gains or losses from a carry trade or the overnight funding adjustment:

  • Number of nights held x Trade size x Tom-next rate + Admin fee

Number of nights held

Trading in foreign exchange often occurs on a T+2 basis, which implies that overnight positions held today will be settled two days from now. This may become more important when including holidays and/or weekends.

In a week without a Friday holiday, a position held overnight on a Wednesday would reflect a three-day overnight status (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), while a position held overnight on a Tuesday in the same week would reflect a four-day overnight status (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).).

Trade size

In foreign exchange, the quote currency is typically used to determine the quantity of a trade, with 1 lot equalling 10,000 units.

For the EUR/USD pair, 1 lot would represent a $10 USD per pip position, while for the USD/CAD pair, 3 lots would represent a $30 CAD per pip position.

Tom-next rate

The tom-next rate is the swap price at which currency traders in the foreign exchange market roll a position from the following business day to the new spot date.

Interest rates on the two currencies are factored in during the tom-next portion of the computation, resulting in a positive or negative change to open positions depending on which currency's rate is higher.

Admin fee

Unlike tom-next rates, which are applied on a T+0 basis, admin fees, which effect the FX market's swap price, are typically only 0.5% per year, or 0.0014% per day.

Holding a position overnight on a normal trading weekday (Wednesday) would cost you one day's worth of administrative costs, or a reduction of 0.0014% on both sides of the deal.

Using leverage with the carry trade

Trading in the forex market may allow for higher leverage than trading in other assets, which can make possible profits from the carry trade even greater. Carry trading major pairs like EUR/USD with margin requirements of 2-5% could turn small differences in interest rates into big returns by multiplying the carry profit 20–50 times. However, leverage can also make profits and losses from price changes in the forex pair bigger, which could lead to losses that are greater than the initial deposit.

Advantages of carry trades

Aside from the fact that you can earn interest on top of your trading profits, forex carry trades provide a number of other benefits. If you open a trade for one lot (100,000), depending on your broker's margin requirements, you may only need $2000. The interest payments made by your broker are on the leveraged amount. However, the interest paid by your broker is on the total $100,000, not just the $2000 of your own funds.

Carry on trades can give you consistent returns if markets stay stable, which makes the technique effective when market volatility is minimal. However, complete risk management is crucial for any forex trade. Stop-loss and take-profit orders should be set up in accordance with your trading strategy whenever you execute a forex carry trade.

Disadvantages of carry trade

The most significant dangers in trading are fluctuations in currency values or interest rates. High country and political risks, for instance, might lead to unexpected currency volatility or devaluation, which can lead to big losses in carry trading, even when emerging markets provide higher interest rates. Not only are currencies in emerging nations more volatile than those in developed markets, but the amount of that volatility is generally greater.

Risks associated with currency carry trades mostly come from two sources: interest rate risk and currency exchange rate risk. Carry trading carries the risk of loss due to fluctuations in the value of the underlying forex pair and interest rate differentials between the two areas.

Interest rate risk

Changes to interest rates that affect the carry trade can happen at any time, even though interest rates in most large economies only tend to fluctuate once a month or so. Traders may try to estimate their carry trade profits over the future weeks and months, but interest rate fluctuations should be taken into account.

When the Federal Reserve's interest rate is higher than the Bank of Japan's, a long USD/JPY strategy can provide positive carry gains one month, but when interest rates reverse course, the position can generate negative carry losses.

Price action risk

A positive carry in a forex position should result in stable profits under normal market conditions. Unfortunately, normal market conditions rarely last more than a few seconds. While favourable movements in exchange rates might boost a trader's bottom line, fluctuations in currency pair prices can wipe out carry trade profits and more thanks to the leverage inherent in the forex market.

One month of losses from price action totalling $1,000 and daily carry trade profits of $7 on a short 1-lot EUR/USD position would yield $210 in carry trade profits and $7 x 30 days = $210.

Pros and Cons of a Carry Trade


You earn money via trading and interest
Use of leverage boost you earnings
It’s a flexible strategy for reducing downside risk
You can make money


If interest rates fall you lose money
Not possible with small amounts
Not beneficial if the trend shift for a long-tern strategy


Carry trade, also known as forex carry trade and currency carry trade, is a financial strategy that involves using the currency that has a higher interest rate in order to fund trades that involve a currency that has a lower yield. Carry trade in forex is widely considered to be among the most popular trading strategies available on the foreign exchange market. It operates according to the premise of "buy low, sell high."

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