Gauging the health of the world’s foreign exchange market is an awkward business, but every three years the Bank for International Settlements takes its pulse as best it can. Edward Russell-Walling reports.

The last time the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) brought out its stethoscope, in 2001, the FX heart was found to be beating rather feebly. But the bank’s latest survey shows it to be pounding. Daily turnover shot up from an average of $1200bn in 2001 to nearly $1900bn this year, according to BIS.

That represented a rise of 57% (36% at constant exchange rates), which was rather more than most anticipated. The consensus had been for closer to $1500bn. “We were all surprised,” admits Mansoor Mohi-uddin, UBS chief currency strategist. “No-one expected the jump to be this much.”

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