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History of Forex: the EUR USD currency pair

November 19, 2020 11:30 UTC
Reading time: 11 minutes

The Euro versus the US dollar (USD) is the most popular currency pair by traded volume in the world. It's so established today, that it's easy to forget that fewer than 20 years ago, the Forex (FX) pair, didn't even exist. This article is going to take a brief look at the history of the Forex EUR USD currency pair. We'll take a look at the origins of this FX pair, before investigating how central bank action and other factors have affected its Forex historical data.

EUR USD currency pair

Genesis of a currency

The Forex markets in the the late 90s were significantly different from the way they are today. Back then, the German Deutschmark against the US dollar was one of the big pairs, along with the French Franc versus the US dollar.

It didn't take long before the course of currency conversion history changed, however, because on January 1, 1999, the Euro came into existence. The journey leading to the euro had begun decades before. There were also earlier versions of the Euro, in the form of internal accounting units for the European Community members:

These were:

  • The European unit of account
  • The European currency unit (ECU)

These were not true currencies, however.

Instead, they were baskets of certain EC currencies, designed to aid stability in European exchange rates. Thus, they helped pave the way for a single currency. The ECU basket of EC currencies had a slightly different composition to those that would comprise the Euro. Despite this difference in composition, the ECU played a crucial role in the historical exchange rate of the Euro. This is because the value of one Euro was set as the value of one ECU at its inception on 1 January 1999.

This made the original Euro Dollar exchange rate 1.1686. Though the Euro wouldn't become a physical currency until 2002, the Euro launch at the beginning of 1999 tied the ratio of these Eurozone currencies together. Thus, the French Franc, the German Deutschmark, the Spanish Peseta, the Italian Lira, etc. ceased to have separate, floating historical FX rates after this point.

Instead, they were effectively pegged to the value of the Euro until they were completely folded into the shared currency we know today. Many saw the Euro in its early days as a contender to usurp the Dollar's unofficial title as the global reserve currency. While this could yet still happen, the Dollar still retains its crown by some margin.

So, what has affected the history of EUR/USD?

While the short-term ebb and flow of the Forex EUR USD exchange rate can be influenced by a huge number of factors, the long-term performance of the currency pair has been driven by various fundamentals. Naturally, these are the same factors affecting currency rates as a general rule, no matter which FX pair you look at.

Two important factors that affect exchange rates in general are: the strength of the underlying economy, and monetary policy, which is implemented by the pertinent central bank. Of course, the latter is very much tied to the former. As the timeframes shorten, speculation starts to come into focus more and more. Therefore, expectations over central bank policy also have a major impact. If we look at the Forex EUR USD exchange rate history, we can see some clear examples.

Many of these occurred after one of the biggest reductions in the Euro vs USD history: the global financial crisis that began in 2007. The stresses placed by this event on economies around the world forced a sequence of extraordinary responses from central banks. But here's a key part of the puzzle: the response wasn't uniform. The divergence in policy between the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) in particular was pronounced.

How did they differ?

The Fed made early and aggressive moves to stimulate the US economy with three different tranches of quantitative easing (QE). In contrast, the ECB resisted QE for an extended period. When it finally began purchasing sovereign bonds as a stimulus measure, it was several years behind the FED.

Why did they differ?

The FED has a dual mandate:

  • To foster maximum employment
  • To stabilise prices

In contrast, the ECB's primary objective is solely price stability. This disparity in policy consequently led to some interesting effects on the Euro-Dollar exchange rate. In fact, for an extended period, the most important EUR/USD Forex news stories tended to be about FED stimulus. Another major issue facing the Euro was the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Certain member states had crippling amounts of national debt.

The uniform nature of monetary policy for the shared currency posed a thorny problem: you cannot tailor measures to the specific needs of different nations with a 'one-size-fits-all' monetary policy. This led to some questioning whether the single currency would even survive. Let's look at the specifics of the Euro against the Dollar over the period in question.

Here's a weekly Forex EUR USD chart dating back to 2007:

EURUSD, Weekly

Source: Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5, EURUSD, Weekly - Data range: from Nov 13, 2005, to Sept 6, 2019, accessed on Sept 6, 2019, at 13:00 BST. - Please note: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Some of the key events for the period are marked on the chart above, so that we can see how they affected the Forex EUR USD exchange rate history.

Euro Dollar exchange rate history: since 2007

The labelled events in EUR/USD history are as follows:


Date

Event

Effect

1

18 September 2007

FED cuts Fed funds rate by 50 basis points

Euro strengthened against Dollar

2

16 December 2008

FED cuts rates to near zero

Euro strengthened against Dollar

3

19 October 2009

The newly-elected Greek government revises deficit forecasts from 6.7% of GDP to 12.7% of GDP

Euro weakens against Dollar

4

1 June 2011

Moody's downgrades Greek debt by seven notches to junk status

Euro weakens against Dollar

5

18 December 2013

FED announces 'tapering' of stimulus will begin in January 2014

Euro weakens against Dollar into February 2014

6

14 July 2014

ECB president Mario Draghi prepares the market for QE, stating that it ' falls squarely in our mandate.'

Euro weakens against Dollar

7

22 January 2015

ECB introduces full blown QE

Euro weakens against Dollar

8 13 December 2015 Fed hikes interest rates for first time in a decade. Euro strengthens against Dollar
9 8 November 2016 Donald Trump wins US Presidential election. Euro weakens against Dollar
10 26 October 2017 ECB halves 60 billion EUR bond-buying programme Euro strengthens against Dollar
11 13 December 2018 ECB ends 2.5 trillion EUR QE stimulus programme Euro weakens against Dollar
12 25 July 2019 ECB President Mario Draghi prepares for interest rate cut as growth slows Euro weakens against Dollar

Forex EUR USD historical data shows a reasonably clear response to each of these events. Having looked at the currency rate by date, and having established that Euro to Dollar history is clearly influenced by central bank action - how do we gain insight into what that action might be?

For instance, the better our forecast for FED action, the better our ability to roughly forecast EUR/USD. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. A smart way of testing your forecasts without risking money though, is with a demo trading account. A Forex demo trading account enables traders to trade with virtual currency, in a risk-free trading environment, using real-time price information.

Here's the good news: one of the upshots of the financial crisis was increased communication from the FED. The central bank is reasonably explicit about which metrics inform its decision making. A key yardstick is the labour market, because of the FED's mandate to pursue maximum employment.

This is a reason why the monthly employment situation report is one of the most closely watched indicators in the Forex Calendar for Forex EUR USD investing. The report contains monthly non-farm payroll (NFP) data. One of the reasons the data is so closely followed is that it has historically shown a strong correlation to US GDP growth.

GDP data is released quarterly and hence far less frequently, and with greater delay than the payroll data. The FED therefore uses the non-farm payrolls as a proxy for the health of the economy. A strong economy, with a tight labour market, is likely to increase inflationary pressures. This has implications for the price stability side of the FED's dual mandate. To reduce a complex subject to simple terms:

  • The weaker the payroll report, the more likely the FED is to loosen the monetary policy
  • The stronger the payroll report, the more likely the FED is to tighten the monetary policy

A tighter policy means greater returns on Dollar deposits and should, in theory, increase the attractiveness of the Dollar. Therefore, a tighter policy is bullish for the Dollar, with all other factors affecting exchange rate being equal. In reality, the rate history for the Forex EUR USD pair can be more complex than this. That is because all other factors are rarely equal. It is often the outcome of the data with respect to expectations that drives short-term direction. With this in mind, you can develop your own Forex EUR USD forecast for today, or whenever data is to be released. However, it is important to not over simplify your analysis and rely on this one principle. Trading entails incredible financial risk and the best traders consider many indicators and use sophisticated strategies to develop forecasts and minimize risk.

Let's look at a daily EUR USD Forex live chart covering part of 2019:

EURUSD, Daily

Source: Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5, EURUSD, Daily - Data range: from April 19, 2019, to Sept 6, 2019, accessed on Sept 6, 2019, at 13:00 BST. - Please note: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The red lines on the chart above mark the release dates of the US employment report. We generally see larger candles (from high to low) representing increased trading activity. In half of the cases the news has also changed the preceding trend of the currency. Another interesting thing shown by this Euro to Dollar chart is the volatility.

In the graph above, the trader has plotted the Average True Range (ATR) - a measure of volatility, beneath the chart. You can read more about volatility and ATR in our article on the most volatile currency pairs. The release of non-farm payrolls is generally accepted as being a time of brisk price movements.

Looking at the ATR levels, you might argue that there are minor upward blips in volatility on each day of the NFP report, but it's not clear that there is any large impact on the historical currency exchange rate on these days. ATR is one of the standard indicators that comes with MetaTrader 4. If you're interested in gaining access to an even wider selection of custom-made indicators, you should consider downloading MetaTrader 5 Supreme Edition. It's a custom-made plugin for MetaTrader 5, and it's available to traders free of charge.

Analysis: EUR USD rates and international trade

When the value of a country's imports exceeds its exports, it is known as a trade deficit. Running a long-term trade deficit should lead to a flow of wealth out of the country, and theoretically, a decline in the value of the currency. The US has been running huge trade deficits for an extended period.

Despite this, the Euro to Dollar exchange rate history shows no evidence to back up the idea of a declining Dollar. An explanation for this is the extensive use of the Dollar as a reserve currency: this means that demand has been high enough to counter such depreciation.

Did you know you can test out your theories on the movements of the EUR/USD completely risk-free by using a demo trading account? This means that traders can avoid putting their capital at risk, and they can choose when they wish to move to the live markets. For instance, Admiral Markets' demo trading account enables traders to gain access to the latest real-time market data, the ability to trade with virtual currency, and access to the latest trading insights from expert traders.

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All things EUR USD

If you are interested in more than the history of the EUR USD and want to join a broader discussion on anything connected to the forex EUR USD pair, try Forex Factory. On their site, there is a section open to anyone who wishes to discuss anything related to the EUR USD currency pair.

So, if you've been trading for a while and are tired of staring at your screen, or you are just looking for a friendly environment to immerse yourself in discussion about this historic currency pair with real people like you and advanced traders, visit their EUR USD thread.

There are a couple rules, such as the first and most obvious one: discuss only EUR USD related topics. The other two are:

  1. Newbies can only ask questions (if they provide empty advice or valueless charts they can be banned from posting. They assure you that it's not personal)
  2. Toxic behavior, fights, hatred, etc. is not welcome and will also lead to banning

Sounds like a good place to have a discussion right? There are no limits to what kind of information you can find there, including history, technical analysis, fundamental analysis, trends, news, etc, all related to the most popular trading pair in the world.

Forex EUR USD currency pair volatility

Volatility refers to the degree and frequency at which an asset's price moves. In markets where traders are trading on the direction of price movements of assets, these traders commonly see volatile assets as those that offer profit opportunities. Because there are many factors that influence its price, the EUR USD pair often offers volatility, which is attractive to most traders.

It can be effective to asses and try to understand the changes in value of the Euro based fundamental analysis because the Euro can be highly influenced by political and economic developments within all of the 16 countries it represents. Because there is a large number of nations that can release different data throughout the day, there can be many moments throughout the day in which the price of the Euro is impacted.

Now, when we are considering the EUR USD pair, we must look at volatility in the USD as well. News coming in throughout the day that is connected to the US economy and its major trading partners can effect the value of the dollar as well. With this said, it's clear to see that there are many opportunities to take advantage of price movements throughout the day with the EUR USD pair.

As always, an intelligent strategy is essential to minimize risks and avoid losses.

Small moves can amount to large gains/losses

Let's look at one specific example that can illustrate the effect of EUR USD volatility. Basically, one small change (for example, one pip) in the value of the EUR USD pair, can translate into large gains or losses.

"PIP" stands for Point in Percentage. This is a unit of measure that Forex traders use to refer to the smallest change possible in value between two currencies. A pip is the value of a one digit change in the fourth decimal place in a Forex quote.

In the case of the EUR USD, if it changes from 1.1703 to 1.1704, this is a one pip movement, or one 'point' movement.

Let's calculate the value of a pip with the EUR USD pair: just multiply one pip (0.0001) by the specific contract size (Pip Value = Contract Size x One Pip). Now, most brokers offer a standard and a mini contract, amounting to 100,000 and 10,000 units of the base currency, respectively. Therefore, in a standard contract, the pip value of the EUR USD can be calculated as follows:

0.0001 x 100,000 = 10

You can also jump online and find a eur usd calculator Forex to quickly calculate the pip for the EUR USD pair (or any other currency pair).

So, in a standard contract, one pip is equal to $10. Small changes in value, even several pips, can amount to substantial losses. In a mini contract, one pip is equal to $1. Mini contracts do not amount to such rapid gains or losses, so they may be safer. But, as I mentioned earlier, a sophisticated and proven strategy is essential for minimizing risk and losses.

EUR USD trading hours

It is worth mentioning now, that an additional advantage of this pair are the Forex EUR USD trading hours. Anyone can trade the EUR USD 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, this isn't only true for the EUR USD pair. The Forex market is open 24 hours day.

Round-the-clock access to the Forex market is possible due to international time zones. The Forex market is the biggest financial market in the world. To be clear, not every market is open around the clock, but at any given time of the day or night, at least one market around the world is open. Of course, there is an overlap of the closing and opening times for several markets.

Each day, Forex trading opens in the Australasia region. Europe is next, followed by North America.

A final word on the Euro to Dollar history

Of course, the Dollar to Euro history is as complex as you care to make it. We have touched upon some key areas in this article, but there are many more factors that affect historical foreign exchange rates. There are various geopolitical risks, such as war and elections, as well as economic variables, such as output levels, demand, and the supply of money.

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This material does not contain and should not be construed as containing investment advice, investment recommendations, an offer of or solicitation for any transactions in financial instruments. Please note that such trading analysis is not a reliable indicator for any current or future performance, as circumstances may change over time. Before making any investment decisions, you should seek advice from independent financial advisors to ensure you understand the risks.