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Gain a Better Understanding of Financial Markets

The world's capital markets have experienced more volatility in 2020 than they have since 1987, with record-setting daily percentage losses and gains in the Dow. What happens in the financial markets transcends Wall Street; it affects corporate workers with retirement savings in a 401(k), small businesses on Main Street and the livelihoods of rural farmers.

The stock market impacts the bond market, the price of commodities like oil, and the value of national currencies and cryptocurrencies. In turn, each of these impacts investment decisions individuals make with stocks, funds, certificates of deposit (CDs), derivatives and annuities, among other instruments. Whether one understands the financial markets or not, they deeply impact daily life. Gaining fluency in financial market applications will pay dividends both professionally and personally.

Students in the Master of Business Administration General online program at the University of South Carolina Aiken encounter financial (capital) market concepts throughout the curriculum. As an introduction, the following are some of the largest markets for trading securities.

Stock Market

The stock market is composed of international and domestic exchanges on which public corporations source capital to invest in their businesses. To accomplish this, they sell shares of ownership — stocks — to investors through brokerages like Charles Schwab and E*Trade. Public companies communicate with the investment community in a variety of ways and publish quarterly earnings forecasts. When they outperform these forecasts, investors reap the rewards through rising stock prices and dividends. Through stock market investments in individual stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, the fortunes of individuals are tied to these public companies. When the market rises, it's a bull market, which benefits many stakeholders, directly and indirectly.

Bond Market

The bond market is where organizations of all types, from municipalities to national governments to public companies, go to secure big loans. Access to large sums of capital is known as liquidity, and it's what keeps the economy going. Bond types include treasury, municipal and corporate. Bond and stock prices often move in opposite directions, which is why investors diversify their portfolios between them.

Money Market

The money market provides access to short-term lending, from several days to a year. Investors are issued banker's acceptances, repurchase agreements, CDs and other forms of securities. These are more conservative than stocks or bonds, offering relatively safe investment options, albeit with lower returns and higher liquidity because of their short maturities.

Derivatives Market

The derivatives market presents a more exotic form of investing, based on strategies that professional, skilled investors understand. The issued contracts are known as derivatives, as an investor derives value from their underlying assets. Examples include forwards, futures, options and swaps.

Commodities Market

Organizations use the commodities market to offset future risk by locking in known prices today on things like oil, agricultural products and precious metals. Oil, because of its use in transportation, industry and energy, is the most important commodity in the global and U.S. economies. Coal has also been a main commodity for its value as an energy source, but as a significant recognized pollutant it has faded in importance.

If the capital markets fascinate you, earning the UofSC Aiken General MBA could provide a path to expertise in your particular areas of interest, and a limitless range of rewarding career options.

Learn more about UofSC Aiken's online General MBA program.


Investopedia: Types of Financial Markets and Their Roles

The Balance: An Introduction to the Financial Markets

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