Another important concept in currency trading is the twin phenomenon of margin and leverage. This is a concept that carries a high degree of risk, but since forex prices move very slowly (in terms of the actual change in value), the vast majority of traders leverage their accounts when engaging in short-term trading.
When you open a forex account, the broker will request that you deposit a small sum, known as margin, as insurance against the losses that your account may suffer. With this small sum, you’re able to control a much larger amount, enabling greater gains, but also greater losses than you would be able to achieve with your deposit. It’s easier to understand margin and leverage in the context of a borrowing process. The lots that you can trade are borrowed from your broker, who requires a margin deposit as an insurance against losses. The ratio between the funds borrowed by you, and the margin that you deposit as insurance is called leverage. Thus, if you set a leverage ratio of 100:1, enabling the trade of 1,000,000 USD with just 10,000 USD in deposit, but eventually trade just 100,000, the actual leverage that you would be using is 10:1. Note that leverage over 50:1 for majors and 20:1 for minors is not available to traders in the U.S.
In order to understand how to manage your account you must gain a good understanding of leverage. Failure to pay proper attention to leverage and margin may result in a margin call and the broker may liquidate your position in order to ensure that your losses do not reach a level where your margin deposit is insufficient to cover them. Increasing leverage = increases risk.