NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Kenta Yamada

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November 2012Free Lunch! Arbitrage Opportunities in the Foreign Exchange Markets
with Takatoshi Ito, Misako Takayasu, Hideki Takayasu: w18541
Using the “firm” quotes obtained from the tick-by-tick EBS (electronic broking system that is a major trading platform for foreign exchanges) data, it is found that risk-free arbitrage opportunities—free lunch—do occur in the foreign exchange markets, but it typically last only a few seconds. “Free lunch” is in the form of (a) negative spreads in a currency pair and (b) triangular arbitrage relationship involving three currency pairs. The latter occur much more often than the former. Such arbitrage opportunities tend to occur when the markets are active and volatile. Over the 12-year, tick-data samples, the number of free lunch opportunities has dramatically declined and the probability of the opportunities disappearing within one second has steadily increased. The size of expected profits...

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