This checklist outlines capital markets, their structure, and their function.
Capital markets provide a wide range of products and services that are related to financial investments. Capital markets include the stock market, commodities exchanges, the bond market, and just about any physical or virtual service or intermediary where debt and equity securities can be bought or sold. Their primary purpose is to raise funds and channel investors’ money to areas where there is a deficit or need for investment. They play a vital role as intermediaries between governments and companies, which use them to finance a myriad of activities.
In the primary market, governments, companies, or public sector organizations can obtain funding through the sale of a new stock or bonds. These are normally issued through securities dealers and banks, which underwrite the offered stocks or bonds. The issuers earn a commission, which is built into the price of the security offering.
In the secondary market, stocks and shares in publicly traded companies are bought and sold through one of the major stock exchanges, which serve as managed auctions for stock. A stock exchange, share market, or bourse is a company, corporation, or mutual organization that provides facilities for stockbrokers and traders to trade stocks and other securities. Stock exchanges also provide facilities for the issue and redemption of securities, trading in other financial instruments, and the payment of income and dividends.
Capital markets provide the lubricant between investors and those needing to raise capital.
Capital markets create price transparency and liquidity. They provide a safe platform for a wide range of investors —including commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, and retail investors—to hedge and speculate.
Holding different shares or bonds allows an investor to spread investment risk.
The secondary market gives important pricing information that permits efficient use of limited capital.
In capital markets, bond prices are influenced by economic data such as employment, income growth/decline, consumer prices, and industrial prices. Any information that implies rising inflation will weaken bond prices, as inflation reduces the income from a bond.
Prices for shares in capital markets can be very volatile. Their value depends on a number of external factors over which the investor has no control.
Different shares can have different levels of liquidity, i.e. demand from buyers and sellers.
When placing a buy or sell order, there are two ways you can trade. Shares can be traded at market order, which means buying at the prevailing market price. The alternative is the limit order, in which you set the minimum or maximum price.
What are interest rates going to do? Investors who buy and sell bonds before maturity are exposed to many risks, most importantly changes in interest rates. When interest rates increase, new issues will pay a higher yield and the value of existing bonds will fall. When interest rates decline, the value of existing bonds will rise as new issues pay a lower yield.
Dos and Don’ts
Before you buy, check how quickly you will be able to sell if necessary, and at what discount and dealing fee.