Forex is a portmanteau of foreign currency and exchange. Foreign exchange is the process of changing one currency into another currency for a variety of reasons, usually for commerce, trading, or tourism. According to a recent triennial report from the Bank for International Settlements (a global bank for national central banks), the average was more than $5.1 trillion in daily forex trading volume.
The foreign exchange market is where currencies are traded. Currencies are important to most people around the world, whether they realize it or not, because currencies need to be exchanged in order to conduct foreign trade and business. If you are living in the U.S. and want to buy cheese from France, either you or the company that you buy the cheese from has to pay the French for the cheese in euros (EUR). This means that the U.S. importer would have to exchange the equivalent value of U.S. dollars (USD) into euros. The same goes for traveling. A French tourist in Egypt can't pay in euros to see the pyramids because it's not the locally accepted currency. As such, the tourist has to exchange the euros for the local currency, in this case the Egyptian pound, at the current exchange rate.
One unique aspect of this international market is that there is no central marketplace for foreign exchange. Rather, currency trading is conducted electronically over-the-counter (OTC), which means that all transactions occur via computer networks between traders around the world, rather than on one centralized exchange. The market is open 24 hours a day, five and a half days a week, and currencies are traded worldwide in the major financial centers of London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and Sydney—across almost every time zone. This means that when the trading day in the U.S. ends, the forex market begins anew in Tokyo and Hong Kong. As such, the forex market can be extremely active any time of the day, with price quotes changing constantly.
Stocks are certificates of ownership. A person who buys stock in a company becomes one of the company's owners. As an owner, the stockholder is eligible to receive a dividend, or share of the company's profits. The amount of this dividend may change from year to year depending on the company's performance. Well-established companies try to pay stockholders as high a dividend as possible.
Bonds are certificates that promise to pay a fixed rate of interest. A person who buys a bond is not buying ownership in a company but is lending the company money. The bond is the company's promise to repay that money at the end of a certain time, such as ten, fifteen, or twenty years. In return for lending the company money, the bondholder is paid interest at regular intervals. The interest rate is based on general interest rates in effect at the time the bonds are issued, as well as on the company's financial strength. Bonds generally pay more money than preferred stocks do, and they are usually considered a safer investment. If a company goes bankrupt, bondholders are paid before both preferred and common stockholders.
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
A trader is a person or entity, in finance, who buys and sells financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, commodities, derivatives, and mutual funds in the capacity of agent, hedger, arbitrageur, or speculator.
An investment is an asset or item acquired with the goal of generating income or appreciation. In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. In finance, an investment is a monetary asset purchased with the idea that the asset will provide income in the future or will later be sold at a higher price for a profit.