Finance

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Finance is a term for matters regarding the management, creation, and study of money and investments. [1] Specifically, it deals with the questions of how and why an individual, company or government acquires the money needed  called capital in the company context  and how they spend or invest that money. [2] Finance is then often split per the following major categories: corporate finance, personal finance and public finance. [1]

Contents

At the same time, and correspondingly, finance is about the overall "system" [1]   i.e., the financial markets that allow the flow of money, via investments and other financial instruments, between and within these areas; this "flow" is facilitated by the financial services sector. A major focus within finance is thus investment management   called money management for individuals, and asset management for institutions  and finance then includes the associated activities of securities trading and stock broking, investment banking, financial engineering, and risk management.

Given its wide scope, finance is studied in several academic disciplines, and, correspondingly, there are several related professional qualifications that can lead to the field.

History of Finance

Though its principles are much older, the field of Finance's founding and progress coincides with the start and evolution of civilization at large. We see continuous reformation and innovation in Finance throughout history.

The earliest historical evidence is from the year 3000 BC We see that Banking originated in Babylonian empire where in Temples and palaces were used as safe places for the storage of valuables. Initially, the valuable that can be deposited was only grain, but later cattle and precious materials are also included. Almost during the same time period, in the Sumerian city Uruk in Mesopotamia trade was supported by lending. The usage of interest as well was found to be used.In Sumerian “interest” was mas, which also meant calf. In Greece and Egypt the words used for interest (tokos and ms respectively) also meant “to give birth”. In these cultures interest indicates an increase in something. They seem to consider it from lenders point of view. [3]

During the Reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) in Babylon (the capital city of Babylonia). The famous Code of Hammurabi includes laws governing banking operations. The Babylonians, were accustomed to charge interest at the rate of 20 per cent per annum.

In the Biblical world point of view within the Jewish Civilisation (1500 BC), Jews were not allowed to take interest from other Jews, but they were allowed to take interest from the gentiles, as we see in the scriptures writings such as:

"If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him. (Exodus:20)

You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals [foodstuff] interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest…” (Deu:23).

The reason for the non-prohibition of the receipt by a Jew of interest from a Gentile, and vice versa, is held by modern rabbis to lay in the fact that the Gentiles had at that time no law forbidding them to practice usury; and that as they took interest from Jews, the Torah considered it equitable that Jews should take interest from Gentiles. In Hebrew, interest is neshek.

In contrast to other ancient civilizations “interest is considered from borrowers point of view.

By 1200 BC Cowrie shell is used as “money” in China.

Abd by 640 BC, the Lydians started to use coin money. Lydia was the first place where permanent retail shops opened. (Herodotus mentions the use of crude coins in Lydia in an earlier date, i.e. 687 BC.)

600 BC: Pythius became identified as the first banker that had records. He was operating both in Western Anatolia and in Greece.

The arrival of coin usage as a means of representing money was represented in the years between (600-570 BC) (1) Chinese started to use coins made of base metal. The cities under the Greek empire such as Aegina (595 B.C.), Athens (575 B.C.) and Corinth (570 B.C.) started to mint their own coins.

Leading thinkers and statesmen, such as Marcus Pocius Cato Censorius [Cato the Elder] (234 BC-149 BC) and Marcus Pocius Cato Uicensis [Cato the Younger] (95 BC-46 BC) as well as Marcus Tallius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC-AD 65) and Masterius Plutarch (46 AD-120 AD) were against usury. In Republican Rome (340 BC) interest was outlawed altogether (Lex Genucia reforms). Under the banner of Julius Caesar, a ceiling on interest rates of 12% was set, and later under Justinian, it was lowered even further to between 4% and 8%.

The core of finance in history was more focused on the banking system, the field of finance was narrow. It took almost 2500 years to develop a system of interest, mint coins, bring in theories of interest and inflation. [4]

The financial system

As above, the financial system constitutes the flow of capital, between individuals (personal finance), governments (public finance), and businesses (corporate finance). Although they are closely related, the disciplines of economics and finance are distinct. The "economy" is a social institution that organizes a society's production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, all of which must be financed.

Generalizing, an entity whose income exceeds its expenditure can lend or invest the excess, intending to earn a fair return. Correspondingly, an entity where income is less than expenditure can raise capital usually in one of two ways: (i) by borrowing, in the form of a loan (private individuals), or by selling bonds (may be government bonds or corporate bonds); (ii) by a corporate selling equity, also called stock or shares (may take various forms: preferred stock or common stock). The owners of both bonds and stock may be institutional investors   financial institutions such as investment banks and pension fund – or private individuals, called private investors or retail investors.

The lending is often indirect, through a financial intermediary such as a bank, or via the purchase of notes or bonds (corporate bonds, government bonds, or mutual bonds) in the bond market. The lender receives interest, the borrower pays a higher interest than the lender receives, and the financial intermediary earns the difference for arranging the loan. [5] [6] [7] A bank aggregates the activities of many borrowers and lenders. A bank accepts deposits from lenders, on which it pays interest. The bank then lends these deposits to borrowers. Banks allow borrowers and lenders, of different sizes, to coordinate their activity.

Investing typically entails the purchase of stock, either individual securities, or via a mutual fund for example. Stocks are usually sold by corporations to investors so as to raise required capital in the form of "equity financing", as distinct from the debt financing described above. The financial intermediaries here are the investment banks, which find the initial investors and facilitate the listing of the securities (equity and debt); and the securities exchanges, which allow their trade thereafter, as well as the various service providers which manage the performance or risk of these investments.

Areas of finance

Personal finance

Personal finance [8] is defined as "the mindful planning of monetary spending and saving, while also considering the possibility of future risk". Personal finance may involve paying for education, financing durable goods such as real estate and cars, buying insurance, e.g. health and property insurance, investing and saving for retirement. [9] Personal finance may also involve paying for a loan, or debt obligations. The main areas of personal finance are considered to be income, spending, saving, investing, and protection. [10] The following steps, as outlined by the Financial Planning Standards Board [11] , suggest that an individual will understand a potentially secure personal finance plan after:

Corporate finance

Corporate finance deals with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. Short term financial management is often termed "working capital management", and relates to cash-, inventory- and debtors management. In the longer term, corporate finance generally involves balancing risk and profitability, while attempting to maximize an entity's assets, net incoming cash flow and the value of its stock, and generically entails three primary areas of capital resource allocation: (i) "capital budgeting", selecting which projects to invest in; (ii) dividend policy, the use of "excess" capital; and (iii) "sources of capital", i.e. which funding is to be used. The latter creates the link with investment banking and securities trading, in that the capital raised will (generically) comprise debt, i.e. corporate bonds, and equity, often listed shares.

Although "corporate finance" is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms. Further, although financial management overlaps with the financial function of the accounting profession, financial accounting is the reporting of historical financial information, whereas as discussed, financial management is concerned with increasing the firm's Shareholder value and increasing their rate of return on the investment. Financial risk management, in this context, is about protecting the firm's economic value using financial instruments to manage exposure to risk, particularly credit risk and market risk, often arising from the firm's funding structures.

Public finance

Public finance describes finance as related to sovereign states and sub-national entities (states/provinces, counties, municipalities, etc.) and related public entities (e.g. school districts) or agencies. It usually encompasses a long-term strategic perspective regarding investment decisions that affect public entities. [13] These long-term strategic periods usually encompass five or more years. [14] Public finance is primarily concerned with:

Central banks, such as the Federal Reserve System banks in the United States and Bank of England in the United Kingdom, are strong players in public finance, acting as lenders of last resort as well as strong influences on monetary and credit conditions in the economy. [15]

Financial theory

Finance theory is studied and developed within the disciplines of management, (financial) economics, accountancy and applied mathematics. Abstractly, [2] finance is concerned with the investment and deployment of assets and liabilities over "space and time": i.e. it is about performing valuation and asset allocation today, based on risk and uncertainty of future outcomes, incorporating the time value of money (determining the present value of these future values, "discounting", requires a risk-appropriate discount rate). Since the debate to whether finance is an art or a science is still open, [16] there have been recent efforts to organize a list of unsolved problems in finance.

Financial economics

Financial economics is the branch of economics studying the interrelation of financial variables, such as prices, interest rates and shares, as opposed to goods and services. Financial economics concentrates on influences of real economic variables on financial ones, in contrast to pure finance. It centres on pricing and managing risk management in the financial markets, and thus produces many of the and financial models commonly employed.

The discipline essentially explores how rational investors would apply risk and return to the problem of investment. The twin assumptions of rationality and market efficiency lead to modern portfolio theory (the CAPM), and to the Black–Scholes theory for option valuation; it further studies phenomena and models where these assumptions do not hold, or are extended.

"Financial economics", also considers investment under "certainty" (Fisher separation theorem, "theory of investment value", Modigliani–Miller theorem) and hence also contributes to corporate finance theory. Financial econometrics is the branch of financial economics that uses econometric techniques to parameterize the relationships suggested.

Financial mathematics

Financial mathematics is a field of applied mathematics, concerned with financial markets. The subject has a close relationship with the discipline of financial economics, which is concerned with much of the underlying theory that is involved in financial mathematics. Generally, mathematical finance will derive, and extend, the mathematical or numerical models suggested by financial economics.

The field is largely focused on the modelling of derivatives, although other important subfields include insurance mathematics and quantitative portfolio problems. See Outline of finance #Mathematical tools and Outline of finance #Derivatives pricing.

In terms of practice, mathematical finance also overlaps heavily with the field of computational finance (also known as financial engineering ). Arguably, these are largely synonymous, although the latter focuses on application, while the former focuses on modeling and derivation (see: Quantitative analyst ). There is also a significant overlap with financial risk management.

Experimental finance

Experimental finance aims to establish different market settings and environments to observe experimentally and provide a lens through which science can analyze agents' behavior and the resulting characteristics of trading flows, information diffusion, and aggregation, price setting mechanisms, and returns processes. Researchers in experimental finance can study to what extent existing financial economics theory makes valid predictions and therefore prove them, and attempt to discover new principles on which such theory can be extended and be applied to future financial decisions. Research may proceed by conducting trading simulations or by establishing and studying the behavior, and the way that these people act or react, of people in artificial competitive market-like settings.

Behavioral finance

Behavioral finance studies how the psychology of investors or managers affects financial decisions and markets when making a decision that can impact either negatively or positively on one of their areas. Behavioral finance has grown over the last few decades to become central and very important to finance. [17]

Behavioral finance includes such topics as:

  1. Empirical studies that demonstrate significant deviations from classical theories.
  2. Models of how psychology affects and impacts trading and prices
  3. Forecasting based on these methods.
  4. Studies of experimental asset markets and the use of models to forecast experiments.

A strand of behavioral finance has been dubbed quantitative behavioral finance, which uses mathematical and statistical methodology to understand behavioral biases in conjunction with valuation.

See also

Related Research Articles

Business Organization undertaking commercial, industrial, or professional activity

Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products. Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit. It does not mean it is a company, a corporation, partnership, or have any such formal organization, but it can range from a street peddler to General Motors."

Capital market

A capital market is a financial market in which long-term debt or equity-backed securities are bought and sold. Capital markets channel the wealth of savers to those who can put it to long-term productive use, such as companies or governments making long-term investments. Financial regulators like Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Bank of England (BoE) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversee capital markets to protect investors against fraud, among other duties.

Financial market

A financial market is a market in which people trade financial securities and derivatives at low transaction costs. Some of the securities include stocks and bonds, raw materials and precious metals, which are known in the financial markets as commodities.

Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc. In other words, financial capital is internal retained earnings generated by the entity or funds provided by lenders to businesses in order to purchase real capital equipment or services for producing new goods and/or services.

Bond (finance)

In finance, a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. The most common types of bonds include municipal bonds and corporate bonds. Bonds can be in mutual funds or can be in private investing where a person would give a loan to a company or the government.

Financial economics is the branch of economics characterized by a "concentration on monetary activities", in which "money of one type or another is likely to appear on both sides of a trade". Its concern is thus the interrelation of financial variables, such as prices, interest rates and shares, as opposed to those concerning the real economy. It has two main areas of focus: asset pricing and corporate finance; the first being the perspective of providers of capital, i.e. investors, and the second of users of capital. It thus provides the theoretical underpinning for much of finance.

The risk-free interest rate is the rate of return of a hypothetical investment with scheduled payment(s) over a fixed period of time that is assumed to meet all payment obligations.

Interest rate Percentage of a sum of money charged for its use

An interest rate is the amount of interest due per period, as a proportion of the amount lent, deposited or borrowed. The total interest on an amount lent or borrowed depends on the principal sum, the interest rate, the compounding frequency, and the length of time over which it is lent, deposited or borrowed.

An investment bank is a financial services company or corporate division that engages in advisory-based financial transactions on behalf of individuals, corporations, and governments. Traditionally associated with corporate finance, such a bank might assist in raising financial capital by underwriting or acting as the client's agent in the issuance of securities. An investment bank may also assist companies involved in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and provide ancillary services such as market making, trading of derivatives and equity securities, and FICC services. Most investment banks maintain prime brokerage and asset management departments in conjunction with their investment research businesses. As an industry, it is broken up into the Bulge Bracket, Middle Market, and boutique market.

Investor Person who allocates capital with the expectation of a financial return

An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return or to gain an advantage. Types of investments include equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, token, derivatives such as put and call options, futures, forwards, etc. This definition makes no distinction between the investors in the primary and secondary markets. That is, someone who provides a business with capital and someone who buys a stock are both investors. An investor who owns a stock is a shareholder.

A financial analyst is a professional, undertaking financial analysis for external or internal clients as a core feature of the job. The role may specifically be titled securities analyst, research analyst, equity analyst, investment analyst, or ratings analyst. The job title is a broad one: in banking and industry more generally, various other analyst-roles cover financial management and (credit) risk management, as opposed to focusing on investments and valuation; these are also discussed in this article. The term “financial analyst” is not usually taken to include quantitative analysts, or “quants”.

Capital structure

Capital structure in corporate finance is the way a corporation finances its assets through some combination of equity, debt, or hybrid securities. It refers to the make up of a firm's capitalisation. It is the mix of different sources of long term funds such as equity shares, preference shares, long term debt, retained earnings etc.

In finance, a portfolio is a collection of investments.

In finance, risk factors are the building blocks of investing, that help explain the systematic returns in equity market, and the possibility of losing money in investments or business adventures. A risk factor is a concept in finance theory such as the CAPM, arbitrage pricing theory and other theories that use pricing kernels. In these models, the rate of return of an asset is a random variable whose realization in any time period is a linear combination of other random variables plus a disturbance term or white noise. In practice, a linear combination of observed factors included in a linear asset pricing model proxy for a linear combination of unobserved risk factors if financial market efficiency is assumed. In the Intertemporal CAPM, non-market factors proxy for changes in the investment opportunity set.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:

A flight-to-quality, or flight-to-safety, is a financial market phenomenon occurring when investors sell what they perceive to be higher-risk investments and purchase safer investments, such as gold and other precious metals. This is considered a sign of fear in the marketplace, as investors seek less risk in exchange for lower profits.

In finance, subordinated debt is debt which ranks after other debts if a company falls into liquidation or bankruptcy.

Corporate finance

Corporate finance is the area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value.

Sharia and securities trading Muslim view on trading

The Islamic banking and finance movement that developed in the late 20th century as part of the revival of Islamic identity sought to create an alternative to conventional banking that complied with sharia (Islamic) law. Following sharia it banned from its practices riba (usury) – which it defined as any interest paid on all loans of money – and involvement in haram (forbidden) goods or services such as pork or alcohol. It also forbids gambling (maisir) and excessive risk.

Short Term European Paper (STEP)

Short-term European paper (STEP) is a short-term financing instrument and investment tool, and also a tool for the European Union to align the market standards and practices to promote the integration of the European market. The EU has accepted the STEP market as a non-regulated market due to collateral purposes; meanwhile, this will not influence the existing national and European legislative, regulatory and supervisory systems. As a short-term financial instrument, Short-Term European Paper could be issued by Treasury, banks, funds and so on, with a minimum amount of EUR 100,000. It is normally issued at a discount price, which is lower than face value, and matured within a year.

References

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  4. Thorton, Mike (2016). History of Money:Financial History,From Barter to Bitcoin. pp. Chapters 1-5.
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  14. Doss, Daniel; Sumrall, William; Jones, Don (2012). Strategic Finance for Criminal Justice Organizations (1st ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN   978-1439892237.
  15. Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System of the United States. Mission of the Federal Reserve System. Federalreserve.gov Accessed: 2010-01-16. (Archived by WebCite at Archived 2010-01-14 at the Wayback Machine )
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  17. Shefrin, Hersh (2002). Beyond greed and fear: Understanding behavioral finance and the psychology of investing . New York: Oxford University Press. p. ix. ISBN   978-0195304213 . Retrieved 8 May 2017. growth of behavioral finance.