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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Big Fridays Ching, Denise Yee-Ling

Abstract

The United States operates a dual payments system which gives rise to the distinction between Clearing House Funds and Federal Funds. Due to the fact that, unlike the United States, Canada operates a single payments system, a potential arbitrage opportunity arises in transacting between the Canadian and U.S. money markets on certain days of the week. There are essentially two situations in which U.S. investors can have an interest: the Friday-Monday transaction and the Thursday-Friday transaction. Since both the foreign exchange market and the money market are almost certainly efficient, any potential arbitrage opportunity should be eliminated by adjustments in both markets. This paper looks at the impact of the transactions that would tend to eliminate any arbitrage opportunity, upon interest rates and exchange rates. The institutional details for arranging such transactions are also examined. Only the implications in the foreign exchange market were empirically tested using daily spot rates and forward rates from 1973 to 1976. Since daily interest rates in this period were not available, only one example of daily variation of interest rate within a week was illustrated. It was found that transactions in both the spot market and the forward market have to be arranged one business day in advance. Therefore, the spot/forward rate is also quoted one business day in advance (for example, spot/forward rate that prevails on Thursday is quoted for Friday's transaction). Hence the rate implication from the movements of funds should be shifted one business day backward. The results show that the day-to-day movements in the spot and forward markets are as we would expect. Within the foreign exchange market, the forward rates adjust to a greater extent than the spot rate in eliminating the advantage that arises from the movements of funds. This also indicates that most investors prefer to cover their investments by arranging forward contracts. The arbitrage opportunity that arises involving movements of funds between Canada and the United States is also applicable between the United States and any European country that operates a single payments system. The theory behind it is identical to that described in this paper. Finally, it was found that even if banks in Canada and the United States use the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (S.W.I.F.T.) for a number of transactions in the near future, mechanisation of the International cheque clearing systems is not one of the functions for which S.W.I.F.T. will be used. Therefore,the "Big Fridays" operations are expected to continue.

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