Why There is No Universal System : Differences Between Currency Pairs

Can we build a system that trades successfully on all forex currency pairs ? This has often been a question of the automated trading system world that simply asks if there is a universal inefficiency, an inefficiency that is so common that it can be found an exploited on all different currency pairs. Up until now, the answer to this question has been a resounding and unequivocal NO. To the best of my knowledge no system has ever been developed to work on all currency pairs despite the claims of many system sellers who tell you that you can use their systems on all of them. But why has it been impossible to build such a system ? Why does trading all currency pairs seems like such a big challenge ? The answer lies within the very fabric of the market and the way in which the different currency pairs trade and react. Within the following paragraphs I will explain to you some of the basic aspects of these currency pair differences and why it makes the creation of any universal system extremely hard if not impossible.

You may have been told that inefficiencies in the market arise due to crowd behavior- which is a human characteristic- and that all currency pairs in forex show it to some degree. When you hear this it becomes easy to think that if a system “really works” then it is bound to work on absolutely all the instruments available in the currency market. After all, every instrument is bought and sold by humans and this would make them inherently inefficient.

Certainly if all instruments traded with the exact same number of people and with the exact same objectives we would be able to easily find a universal inefficiency but the matter of fact is that this is not the case. The first dramatic difference between instruments is the number of participants and the inherent liquidity of each currency pair. Some pairs like the EUR/USD are very liquid while others like the GBP/CHF don’t have 1/10th of the liquidity of the former so their price action is dramatically different and the inefficiencies within it become dramatically different. The less people who trade a given pair, the more efficient it becomes since crowd behavior becomes less pronounced and individual decisions start to play important roles.

Then we have other differences that also make the movements of currency pairs different. For example if you are trading the USD/JPY and there is a negative trade balance against Japan then there will be a given fixed amount of money each month that will pull the USD against the JPY just merely because of business transactions that have nothing to do with speculation. The volume of these transactions is very significant and the time in which they are processed and their magnitude will have an impact on the way in which a pair moves.

Many other factors such as central bank intervention and even cultural differences play an important role in the way in which a pair moves when compared to another and all of these factors help to explain why the finding of universal inefficiencies is so hard. However when you look at higher time frames (daily and beyond) there seems to be some coherence and this is the reason why some systems that target month or year long trends manage to exploit the same inefficiency on several different currency pairs. However the success of these systems along the whole portfolio is never total and more often than not there are very strong differences between the profitability of different currency pairs and several pairs where the systems simply do not work.

So will we ever find a global and total inefficiency ? I would have to say that probably no, but if there is a chance it will take a lot more liquidity on all instruments and a lot more market participants to make this the case. Certainly in the future if the market volume on the illiquid currency pairs increases enough we might be able to have – even though not a truly universal system – at least systems that will have better success along different currency pairs.

If you would like to learn more about system development and how you too can build your own likely long term profitable systems based on sound trading tactics please consider buying my ebook on automated trading or joining Asirikuy to receive all ebook purchase benefits, weekly updates, check the live accounts I am running with several expert advisors and get in the road towards long term success in the forex market using automated trading systems. I hope you enjoyed the article !

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2 Responses to “Why There is No Universal System : Differences Between Currency Pairs”

  1. Daniel says:


    My comment is not about today's topic specifically, but rather a general comment regarding the material published both here on this blog and on Asirikuy. I am frankly astonished at the amount and quality of information you have made available to readers of the blog and subscribers to your website. I have no prior experience in forex, so I have nothing to offer but gratitude and encouragement. So thanks.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hello Daniel,

    Thank you very much for your comment :o) I am glad you enjoy the content of both this blog and Asirikuy and you can rest assured that I will do my best to continue to provide high quality content for you and all my readers :o) Thanks again for your comment !

    Best Regards,


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