The origin of Forex trading traces its history to centuries ago. Different currencies and the need to exchange them had existed since the Babylonians. They are credited with the first use of paper notes and receipts. Speculation hardly ever happened, and certainly the enormous speculative activity in the market today would have been frowned upon.
In those days, the value of goods were expressed in terms of other goods(also called as the Barter System). The obvious limitations of such a system encouraged establishing more generally accepted mediums of exchange. It was important that a common base of value could be established. In some economies, items such as teeth, feathers even stones served this purpose, but soon various metals, in particular gold and silver, established themselves as an accepted means of payment as well as a reliable storage of value. Trade was carried among people of Africa, Asia etc through this system.
Coins were initially minted from the preferred metal and in stable political regimes, the introduction of a paper form of governmental I.O.U. during the Middle Ages also gained acceptance. This type of I.O.U. was introduced more successfully through force than through persuasion and is now the basis of today's modern currencies.
Before the First World war, most Central banks supported their currencies with convertibility to gold. However, the gold exchange standard had its weaknesses of boom-bust patterns. As an economy strengthened, it would import a great deal from out of the country until it ran down its gold reserves required to support its money; as a result, the money supply would diminish, interest rates escalate and economic activity slowed to the point of recession. Ultimately, prices of commodities had hit bottom, appearing attractive to other nations, who would sprint into buying fury that injected the economy with gold until it increased its money supply, drive down interest rates and restore wealth into the economy.. However, for this type of gold exchange, there was not necessarily a Centrals bank need for full coverage of the government's currency reserves. This did not occur very often, however when a group mindset fostered this disastrous notion of converting back to gold in mass, panic resulted in so-called "Run on banks " The combination of a greater supply of paper money without the gold to cover led to devastating inflation and resulting political instability. The Great Depression and the removal of the gold standard in 1931 created a serious lull in Forex market activity. From 1931 until 1973, the Forex market went through a series of changes. These changes greatly affected the global economies at the time and speculation in the Forex markets during these times was little.
In order to protect local national interests, increased foreign exchange controls were introduced to prevent market forces from punishing monetary irresponsibility.