DEFINITION of ‘Cable’
Cable is a slang term used among forex traders referring to the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound sterling. It can also be used to refer just to the British pound sterling. Because the pound versus the dollar is one of the most frequently traded currency pairs, the term is heard regularly in trading rooms.
BREAKING DOWN ‘Cable television’
Cable television only describes the British pound with referral to rates and trading versus the dollar. Quotes versus other currencies such as the euro or the Japanese yen describe the pound as sterling, as in “I need a cost in sterling/yen” or “I think euro/sterling will rebound from its existing lows.” The abbreviation for the pound is GBP, which stands for Great Britain pound. You might hear someone dealing in the forex market say “Cable television is up today” or “Cable television has been trending lower lately.” This term supposedly stems from the introduction of the telegraph in the mid-19th century. The pound was the dominant currency at the time, and deals between the pound and dollar were carried out via transatlantic cable television. Forex traders are in some cases referred to as “cable dealers.”
Dominant Currency Until Post-World War II Duration
The British pound or pound sterling is considered the oldest currency still in usage. It was the world’s dominant currency for centuries, and hence was considered the primary reserve currency in which other nations held their excess money. As the British Empire dominated worldwide commerce, the pound dominated worldwide finance. It was legal tender in the majority of colonies, consisting of large parts of Africa and Asia. The Empire began to fade following World War I, as the huge financial expense of the war took a toll on the economy. With the British federal government greatly in debt to the United States, the dollar started to presume the reserve currency status that the pound had actually held. This change was complete by 1949, when the British government was required to decrease the value of the pound by 30.5%. By the early part of the 21st century, the dollar was the world’s leading reserve currency, followed by the euro. The pound has settled in 3rd location.
In foreign exchange, the base currency is the one against which all others are compared. When the pound was the world’s dominant currency, it was also the base currency for trading, so an estimate suggested the amount of currency X that needed to be exchanged for the pound. It is still the base currency in trades against the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar and Japanese yen, to name a few. However when the euro started trading on Jan. 1, 1999, it took over base currency status for any combination in which it was traded. Prices for cable television is therefore the number of dollars it requires to purchase one pound. But a rate in euro/sterling is the number of pounds it takes to buy one euro.
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