Financial market participants

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There are two basic financial market participant categories[ citation needed ], Investor vs. Speculator and Institutional vs. Retail [ citation needed ]. Action in financial markets by central banks is usually regarded as intervention rather than participation.

An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return. 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.

Speculation is the purchase of an asset with the hope that it will become more valuable in the near future. In finance, speculation is also the practice of engaging in risky financial transactions in an attempt to profit from short term fluctuations in the market value of a tradable financial instrument—rather than attempting to profit from the underlying financial attributes embodied in the instrument such as capital gains, dividends, or interest.


Supply side vs. demand side

A market participant may either be coming from the Supply Side, hence supplying excess money (in the form of investments) in favor of the demand side; or coming from the Demand Side, hence demanding excess money (in the form of borrowed equity) in favor of the Supply Side. This equation originated from Keynesian Advocates. The theory explains that a given market may have excess cash; hence the supplier of funds may lend it; and those in need of cash may borrow the funds supplied. Hence, the equation: aggregate savings equals aggregate investments.

The demand side consists of: those in need of cash flows (daily operational needs); those in need of interim financing (bridge financing); those in need of long-term funds for special projects (capital funds for venture financing).

The supply side consists of: those who have aggregate savings (retirement funds, pension funds, insurance funds) that can be used in favor of demand side. The origin of the savings (funds) can be local savings or foreign savings. So much pensions or savings can be invested for school buildings; orphanages; (but not earning) or for road network (toll ways) or port development (capable of earnings). The earnings go to owner (Savers or Lenders) and the margin goes to the banks. When the principal and interest are added up, it will reflect the amount paid for the user (borrower) of the funds. Thus, an interest percentage for the cost of using the funds.

Investor vs. Speculator


An investor is any party that makes an Investment.

However, the term has taken on a specific meaning in finance to describe the particular types of people and companies that regularly purchase equity or debt securities for financial gain in exchange for funding an expanding company. Less frequently the term is applied to parties who purchase real estate, currency, commodity derivatives, personal property, or other assets.

Finance Academic discipline studying businesses and investments

Finance is a field that is concerned with the allocation (investment) of assets and liabilities over space and time, often under conditions of risk or uncertainty. Finance can also be defined as the art of money management. Participants in the market aim to price assets based on their risk level, fundamental value, and their expected rate of return. Finance can be split into three sub-categories: public finance, corporate finance and personal finance.

Stock financial instrument

The stock of a corporation is all of the shares into which ownership of the corporation is divided. In American English, the shares are commonly known as "stocks". A single share of the stock represents fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the stockholder to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets, or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders.

Bond (finance) instrument of indebtedness

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.


Speculation, in the narrow sense of financial speculation, involves the buying, holding, selling, and short-selling of stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, collectibles, real estate, derivatives or any valuable financial instrument to profit from fluctuations in its price as opposed to buying it for use or for income via methods such as dividends or interest. Speculation or agiotage represents one of three market roles in western financial markets, distinct from hedging, long term investing and arbitrage. Speculators in an asset may have no intention to have long term exposure to that asset.

Trade Exchange of goods and services.

Trade involves the transfer of goods or services from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. A system or network that allows trade is called a market.

Commodity marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs

In economics, a commodity is an economic good or service that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. Most commodities are raw materials, basic resources, agricultural, or mining products, such as iron ore, sugar, or grains like rice and wheat. Commodities can also be mass-produced unspecialized products such as chemicals and computer memory.

A currency, in the most specific sense is money in any form when in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, especially circulating banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money in common use, especially for people in a nation. Under this definition, US dollars (US$), pounds sterling (£), Australian dollars (A$), European euros (€), Russian rubles (₽) and Indian Rupees (₹) are examples of currency. These various currencies are recognized as stores of value and are traded between nations in foreign exchange markets, which determine the relative values of the different currencies. Currencies in this sense are defined by governments, and each type has limited boundaries of acceptance.

Institutional vs. Retail

Institutional investor

An institutional investor is an investor, such as a bank, insurance company, retirement fund, hedge fund, or mutual fund, that is financially sophisticated and makes large investments, often held in very large portfolios of investments. Because of their sophistication, institutional investors may often participate in private placements of securities, in which certain aspects of the securities laws may be inapplicable.

Retail investor

A retail investor is an individual investor possessing shares of a given security. Retail investors can be further divided into two categories of share ownership.

  1. A Beneficial Shareholder is a retail investor who holds shares of their securities in the account of a bank or broker, also known as "in Street Name". The broker is in possession of the securities on behalf of the underlying shareholder.
  2. A Registered Shareholder is a retail investor who holds shares of their securities directly through the issuer or its transfer agent. Many registered shareholders have physical copies of their stock certificates.

In the United States, as of 2005 about 57 million households owned stocks, and in total, individual investors owned 26% of equities. [1]

See also

Do-it-yourself investing

Do-it-yourself (DIY) investing, self-directed investing or self-managed investing is an investment approach where the investor chooses to build and manage his or her own investment portfolio instead of hiring an agent, such as a stockbroker, investment adviser, private banker, or financial planner.

Financial market efficiency

There are several concepts of efficiency for a financial market. The most widely discussed is informational or price efficiency, which is a measure of how quickly and completely the price of a single asset reflects available information about the asset's value. Other concepts include functional/operational efficiency, which is inversely related to the costs that investors bear for making transactions, and allocative efficiency, which is a measure of how far a market channels funds from ultimate lenders to ultimate borrowers in such a way that the funds are used in the most productive manner.

Securities market participants (United States)

Securities market participants in the United States include corporations and governments issuing securities, persons and corporations buying and selling a security, the broker-dealers and exchanges which facilitate such trading, banks which safe keep assets, and regulators who monitor the markets' activities. Investors buy and sell through broker-dealers and have their assets retained by either their executing broker-dealer, a custodian bank or a prime broker. These transactions take place in the environment of equity and equity options exchanges, regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or derivative exchanges, regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). For transactions involving stocks and bonds, transfer agents assure that the ownership in each transaction is properly assigned to and held on behalf of each investor.

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Capital market financial market for medium and long-term capital raising

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 the 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 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.

To invest is to allocate money in the expectation of some benefit in the future.

Money market type of financial market

As money became a commodity, the money market became a component of the financial market for assets involved in short-term borrowing, lending, buying and selling with original maturities of one year or less. Trading in money markets is done over the counter and is wholesale.

A 'financial system' is a system that allows the exchange of funds between lenders, investors, and borrowers. Financial systems operate at national and global levels. They consist of complex, closely related services, markets, and institutions intended to provide an efficient and regular linkage between investors and depositors.

A money market fund is an open-ended mutual fund that invests in short-term debt securities such as US Treasury bills and commercial paper. Money market funds are widely regarded as being as safe as bank deposits yet providing a higher yield. Regulated in the United States under the Investment Company Act of 1940, money market funds are important providers of liquidity to financial intermediaries.

Collateralized debt obligation financial product

A collateralized debt obligation (CDO) is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS). Originally developed as instruments for the corporate debt markets, after 2002 CDOs became vehicles for refinancing mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Like other private label securities backed by assets, a CDO can be thought of as a promise to pay investors in a prescribed sequence, based on the cash flow the CDO collects from the pool of bonds or other assets it owns. Distinctively, CDO credit risk is typically assessed based on a PD derived from ratings on those bonds or assets. The CDO is "sliced" into "tranches", which "catch" the cash flow of interest and principal payments in sequence based on seniority. If some loans default and the cash collected by the CDO is insufficient to pay all of its investors, those in the lowest, most "junior" tranches suffer losses first. The last to lose payment from default are the safest, most senior tranches. Consequently, coupon payments vary by tranche with the safest/most senior tranches receiving the lowest rates and the lowest tranches receiving the highest rates to compensate for higher default risk. As an example, a CDO might issue the following tranches in order of safeness: Senior AAA ; Junior AAA; AA; A; BBB; Residual.

Syndicated loan

A syndicated loan is one that is provided by a group of lenders and is structured, arranged, and administered by one or several commercial banks or investment banks known as lead arrangers.

In finance, leverage is any technique involving the use of debt rather than fresh equity in the purchase of an asset, with the expectation that the after-tax profit to equity holders from the transaction will exceed the borrowing cost, frequently by several multiples⁠ ⁠— hence the provenance of the word from the effect of a lever in physics, a simple machine which amplifies the application of a comparatively small input force into a correspondingly greater output force. Normally, the lender will set a limit on how much risk it is prepared to take and will set a limit on how much leverage it will permit, and would require the acquired asset to be provided as collateral security for the loan. For example, for a residential property the finance provider may lend up to, say, 80% of the property's market value, for a commercial property it may be 70%, while on shares it may lend up to, say, 60% or none at all on certain volatile shares.

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

Initially pioneered by financial institutions during the 1970s as interest rates became increasingly volatile, asset and liability management is the practice of managing risks that arise due to mismatches between the assets and liabilities.

In financial economics, a liquidity crisis refers to an acute shortage of liquidity. Liquidity may refer to market liquidity, funding liquidity, or accounting liquidity. Additionally, some economists define a market to be liquid if it can absorb "liquidity trades" without large changes in price. This shortage of liquidity could reflect a fall in asset prices below their long run fundamental price, deterioration in external financing conditions, reduction in the number of market participants, or simply difficulty in trading assets.

The shadow banking system is a term for the collection of non-bank financial intermediaries that provide services similar to traditional commercial banks but outside normal banking regulations. The phrase "shadow banking" contains the pejorative connotation of back alley loan sharks. Many in the financial services industry find this phrase offensive and prefer the euphemism "market-based finance".

Bank financial institution

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.

This article provides background information regarding the subprime mortgage crisis. It discusses subprime lending, foreclosures, risk types, and mechanisms through which various entities involved were affected by the crisis.

Securitization is the financial practice of pooling various types of contractual debt such as residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, auto loans or credit card debt obligations and selling their related cash flows to third party investors as securities, which may be described as bonds, pass-through securities, or collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Investors are repaid from the principal and interest cash flows collected from the underlying debt and redistributed through the capital structure of the new financing. Securities backed by mortgage receivables are called mortgage-backed securities (MBS), while those backed by other types of receivables are asset-backed securities (ABS).

The credit channel mechanism of monetary policy describes the theory that a central bank's policy changes affect the amount of credit that banks issue to firms and consumers for purchases, which in turn affects the real economy.

Corporate finance area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations

Corporate finance is an 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. Although it 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.


  1. Harris L. (2010). Missing in Activism: Retail Investor Absence in Corporate Elections. Columbia Business Law Review