Top 25 Most Influential People in Forex

When certain people talk, the world listens. No, we’re not talking about Donald Trump or Paris Hilton – we’re talking about people with real power. We’re talking about leaders whose very words have the power to cause stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange to decrease in value or make buying a house more expensive -power that really affects the everyday lives of all of us. Who wields this type of power with regard to forex markets? Who has the ability to change how valuable the dollar will be tomorrow relative to the Euro? Who has the greatest influence on currency trading markets? We have decided to compile a list of the Top 25 Most Influential People in Forex in order to help you know when to turn your television up and which articles to pay attention to on the internet.

Central Bankers

The first main group of influential Forex figures includes the people who run the world’s most powerful financial institutions – the Central Banks. These leaders are usually appointed by their government to run and manage the monetary policy for their country (or league of countries, i.e. the European Union). As we all know, Central Banks determine many important factors that have a huge impact on currency trading. Arguably the most important duty of a central bank is to determine whether to raise or lower interest rates. The power these people have ranks them as perhaps the most influential on our list. Let’s introduce you to the world’s most influential central bankers:

1. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank

Ben Bernake was sworn in as Chairman of the US Federal Reserve System on February 1, 2006 and is widely regarded as the most powerful man in the financial world. He had previously served on the Federal Reserve Board from 2005 to 2006 and was serving as the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic advisors when he was appointed to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Fed. Every word the Chairman speaks concerning the U.S. economy is carefully scrutinized and has tremendous influence on the value of the dollar. A recent example is when Chairman Bernanke announced that the US housing market may have a negative impact on U.S. growth for “somewhat longer” than expected. The dollar immediately dropped with the news.

2. Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (ECB)

Holder of what is widely regarded as the second most powerful financial position in the world, Jean-Claude Trichet serves as the President of the European Central Bank. President Trichet presided as the President of the Bank of France before being appointed to head the ECB. Often regarded as overly conservative in his monetary policy-making, President Trichet is notoriously deliberate and precise in his decisions. Critics complain that he is typically too slow to respond to changing European conditions; however, admirers praise the way he has handled the difficult economic issues facing the European Union.

3. Toshihiko Fukui, Governor of the Bank of Japan

Toshihiko Fukui is credited as being one of the most progressive leaders in the Bank of Japan’s history. Many people have attributed his successes to his unconventional thinking, most notably his efforts to combat the country’s six-year struggle with deflation by implementing monetary-easing programs. Last year he announced that the Bank of Japan would return to conventional interest-rate target policies. This has recently been tested as the Yen has reached an all-time low against the Euro and a 4 ½ year low against the dollar on the back of effectively negative real interest rates.

4. Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England

Mervyn King is Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee. He has been involved with the Bank of England for over 15 years, including his service as the Chief Economist and Director from 1991 – 1998 and Deputy Governor from 1998 – 2003. Mr. King has enjoyed a successful tenure as chief of the Bank of England and has earned the praise of his peers for his handling of the UK economy. He is characterized by a tendency towards formulating strong academic arguments and evenly presenting both sides of an issue before making a decision.

5. Jean-Pierre Roth, Chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB)
Appointed Chairman of the Governing Board and head of Department I of the Swiss National Bank, Jean-Pierre Roth presides over the Swiss National Bank. He often plays the role of the traditional Swiss banker, but has also made efforts to respond to slowdowns in Switzerland by keeping interest rates low.

6. David Dodge, Governor of the Bank of Canada

Perhaps the most blunt central banker, David Dodge was selected to head the Bank of Canada in February 2001. Known for expressing his opinions on the health of the loonie (Canadian Dollar) in a frank manner, he has also shown his ability to raise interest rates when he feels inflation is on the horizon.

7. Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia

Glenn Stevens recently replaced Ian Macfarlane as head of the Reserve Bank of Australia. So far, Glenn appears committed to operating the Australian central bank in a manner similar to what was established under Ian Macfarlane. Namely, he has sought to preserve the independence of the Reserve, to target inflation of 2-3% over the course of an economic cycle, and to maintain the accountability of the Reserve when changing interest rates.

8. Allan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Allan Bollard is another inflation hawk with a strong background in economics. He is a passionate supporter of free markets who has also at times implemented a restrictive monetary policy in order to keep inflation in check.

9. Philipp Hildebrand, Vice-Chairman of the Swiss National Bank

As one of the youngest members of our influential people list, Philipp Hildebrand is also unusual in his background among his fellow central bankers. Instead of rising from the ranks of bureaucracy or the ivory tower, Philipp spent most of his career in private industry before being invited to serve as member of the Swiss National Bank.

10. Alan Greenspan

Though he no longer holds his title of US Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan is perhaps one of the most influential figures ever in financial markets, and the retired Fed Chairman still casts a long shadow- most recently when he made comments about a possible US recession and financial markets plummeted. His successful policies while head of the US Federal reserve system are often emulated by leaders of other Central banks.

11. Ottmar Issing, former Chief Economist of the European Central Bank (ECB)

Ottmar Issing is one the leading authorities on ECB economic issues and tends to favor conservative monetary policy. Like Greenspan, even though he no longer holds his former title, he is still well-respected and carries significant clout concerning issues on the European economy.

Government Officials

Our next collection of significant individuals includes other government officials who exert influence over aspects of the world economy but are not directly related to their countries’ respective central banks. Nonetheless, these individuals have a tremendous impact on the fiscal policy and overall financial health of their countries. You will notice we have excluded heads of states from our list and, while they are still very important to the strength of their country’s currency, we have decided to include figures that are more directly related to the currency markets.

12. Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State

The Forex market is truly a global market and is affected greatly by public policy decisions. No one has been at the center of more geo-political events over the last few years than Condoleezza Rice. She has been recognized by Forbes magazine as the most powerful woman in the world in 2004 and 2005 (second in 2006) along with being one of only three people to be ranked as one of Times Magazine most influential people four or more times (2004 – 2007). She definitely has the wherewithal to shape the world’s political climate, and hence currency markets.

13. Rodrigo Rato, Managing Director International Monetary Fund (IMF)

As head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato is intimately involved in the world’s economy. Article I of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement states that the IMF works at: promoting international monetary cooperation; facilitating the expansion and balanced growth of international trade; promoting exchange stability; assisting in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments; and making its resources available (under adequate safeguards) to members experiencing balance of payments difficulties. With such stated goals and the backing of almost every major country in the world, Rodrigo Rato has tremendous influence on the world’s currency markets.

14. Peer Steinbruck, Finance Minister of Germany

Peer Steinbruck was appointed as Finance Minister of Europe’s largest economy in 2005. He has focused on lowering Germany’s budget deficit, but has received mixed reviews while in office.

15. Henry Paulson, US Secretary of Treasury

After being hugely successful in the private sector, Henry Paulson was appointed US Secretary of Treasury in June of 2006. Henry Paulson served as CEO of Goldman Sachs before his appointment to run the Treasury and is well acquainted with private banking and finance. Many pundits suspect his appointment was based on his relationship with Chinese economic officials, and he has been quite vocal about Chinese currency and economic issues.

16. Gordon Brown, Chancellor of Exchequer UK

James Gordon Brown is currently Prime Minister of England and leader-designate of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. Previously, he was the longest serving Chancellor of Exchequer and oversaw the longest period of sustained economic growth in UK history. While this claim has been challenged, his influence on the world economy remains significant.

17. Christine Lagarde, Minister of Finance France

Christine Lagarde is the first woman Minister of Finance for France. Even before her appointment as Finance Minister, Christine was ranked the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.

18. Sadakazu Tanigaki, Finance Minister of Japan

Appointed Minister of Finance for Japan in 2004, Sadakazu Tanigaki has been quoted concerning Forex markets as saying, “Currency levels need to reflect fundamentals in a stable manner…Abrupt moves that don’t reflect that are undesirable.”

19. Hiroshi Watanabe, Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs of Japan

Hiroshi Watanabe is Japan’s Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs of Japan and is the most quoted Japanese official concerning foreign exchange markets. He has expressed concerns in the past when he felt the Yen was overvalued against the dollar.

Private Industry

This last section of Forex’s influential people examines the actual participants in the Forex market. While the previous two sections described the people who set policies and laws, which change how the currency market behaves, this part takes a look at the people active in the private sector. We have included three investors, two CEOs of large corporations, and one Forex analyst. All of these individuals have a profound effect on the industry of currency trading.

20. George Soros, co-founder Quantum Fund

George Soros owns the world-renowned Quantum hedge fund and often executes large, successful currency trades. He earned the reputation on Black Wednesday as “the man who broke the Bank of England” when he sold short more than $10 billion pounds (and earned $1.1 billion) due to England’s reluctance to either raise interest rates or float its currency.

21. Warren Buffet, CEO Berkshire Hathaway

The Oracle of Omaha is perhaps the world’s most famous investor. Warren Buffet’s influence is tremendous and investors of every kind seek his advice on various markets (last year someone paid $620,100 just to have lunch with him!) Two years ago, he bet over $20 billion against the USD and lost $1 billion as the Dollar rose over the course of the following year. (However, it is reported that his company was still up about $2 billion on the deal). He created a buzz earlier this year when he entered the Forex market after a 2 year hiatus and then announced he wouldn’t disclose which currencies he was buying until next year.

22. Joseph C. Lewis, Principal Investor Tavistock Group

Though private about his personal life, Joseph C. Lewis is one of the most powerful Forex traders. Joseph Lewis has amassed a personal fortune of several billion dollars through currency trading and subsequent investments. A leader in the move to take currency trading online, Joseph Lewis and his Tavistock Group developed Hotspot FX, Inc., which allows traders to have better access to placing trades on the internet. The Tavistock group recently sold the company for $77 million.

23. Charles Prince, CEO Citigroup

As CEO of the world’s largest bank, Charles Prince has significant influence on the way in which currency trading is conducted. Citigroup accounts for large volumes of the daily Forex market of which Mr. Prince ultimately manages.

24. Tom Lasorda, CEO Chrysler Group

Tom Lasorda took over the Chrysler Group in 2005 and has been an active voice in the Forex market. Throughout its history, Chrysler has at times made more money trading currency than selling cars. LaSorda has been an active critic of the Japanese Government’s involvement in trying to control the value of the Yen in order to help its industry and has pressured the US government to do the same.

25. John Hardy, Analyst for Saxo Bank

A regular featured guest on CNBC flagship programs including “Squawk Box,” “Worldwide Exchange,” “Power Lunch” and “Closing Bell,” John J. Hardy is recognizable to many European business television viewers as the face of Saxo Bank currency analysis. Formerly chief FX strategist for the Danish-based online investment bank and anchor of Saxo’s popular live-streamed Market Call, Hardy has tremendous influence due to his visibility and unique approach to technical analysis.

Listen and Learn

These leaders’ decisions and announcements should have a profound influence on your strategies as a Forex trader. The more you know about them and their opinions, the better you will be at evaluating the world’s financial markets. As these influential people shape the financial world you can learn to identify the affects that their policies and transactions have on the price of the currencies that you are trading. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll make our list…

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