The microstructure of the foreign exchange market
: the determinants of bid-ask spreads in the foreign exchange market

  • Nikolaos Tsorakidis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this thesis is to shed more light in the FX market microstructure by examining the determinants of bid-ask spread for three currencies pairs, the US dollar/Japanese yen, the British pound/US dollar and the Euro/US dollar in different time zones. I examine the commonality in liquidity with the elaboration of FX market microstructure variables in financial centres across the world (New York, London, Tokyo) based on the quotes of three exchange rate currency pairs over a ten-year period. I use GARCH (1,1) specifications, ICSS algorithm, and vector autoregression analysis to examine the effect of trading activity, exchange rate volatility and inventory holding costs on both quoted and relative spreads. ICSS algorithm results show that intraday spread series are much less volatile compared to the intraday exchange rate series as the number of change points obtained from ICSS algorithm is considerably lower. GARCH (1,1) estimation results of daily and intraday bid-ask spreads, show that the explanatory variables work better when I use higher frequency data (intraday results) however, their explanatory power is significantly lower compared to the results based on the daily sample. This suggests that although daily spreads and intraday spreads have some common determinants there are other factors that determine the behaviour of spreads at high frequencies. VAR results show that there are some differences in the behaviour of the variables at high frequencies compared to the results from the daily sample. A shock in the number of quote revisions has more effect on the spread when short term trading intervals are considered (intra-day) compared to its own shocks. When longer trading intervals are considered (daily) then the shocks in the spread have more effect on the future spread. In other words, trading activity is more informative about the future spread when intra-day trading is considered while past spread is more informative about the future spread when daily trading is considered
Date of AwardMar 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPatricia L Steeley (Supervisor)


  • market microstructure
  • bid-ask spread
  • commonality in liquidity
  • vector autoregression
  • ICSS

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