Category Archives: Financial products

Classifying funds: the type of contract – is it equity or debt?

Another way to classify funds that are provided by a saver to an investor is whether they are in the form of debt or equity. These are the two main forms of contract through which one person or company can provide funding to another. Note that governments, which are very important actors in the financial system, can only… Continue Reading

Key financial concepts: securities

Securities are a very important and useful piece of financial technology, including bank notes, shares and bonds. They make possible a wide range of financial transactions and provide competition to the other main source of funding, banks. * A security is a certificate representing a contract between two or more people which promises to pay… Continue Reading

Davie Bowie innovated in finance too

David Bowie, among his many other creative achievements, was an innovator in finance, with the first ever intellectual property rights securitisation. * Nearly everyone seems to have been affected by the death of David Bowie, a uniquely creative and influential musical artist. I’ll add my own personal memories to the list. I think the first… Continue Reading

Cash remains king

Despite the increasing ease of electronic payments, cash remains popular in the UK, according to the Bank of England. * Money is anything that fulfils the three functions of money: i) a means of payment; ii) a unit of account; and iii) a store of wealth. Physical cash does all of these rather well and… Continue Reading

Too much debt? There is a better way

Pretty much all financial crises involve too much debt. The global financial crisis was triggered by excessive lending for US property purchase. The slow recovery from the crisis is probably because of too much debt. China’s successful plan to insulate its economy from the post-crisis recession has left it with its own debt problem. Those… Continue Reading

Still debating the causes of the world financial crisis

Major world historical events such as the financial crisis that swept much of the world in 2007-09 typically have multiple causes. In 2014 there was an outpouring of new books about the causes of the First World War which started a century before. Historians continue to disagree about why the nations of Europe went to… Continue Reading

Why is it riskier to be a worker than a capitalist?

We take it for granted that capitalists hire workers rather than workers hiring capital, but why? The main reason is the difficulty of diversifying labour, which means that workers ideally require some form of insurance to offset their concentration of risk. But that is only imperfectly available through the market and this is an important… Continue Reading

The changing shape of the asset management industry

The asset management industry is huge, growing in size, especially in Asia, and increasingly dominated by a small number of giant companies. Asset management includes traditional “institutional” investors such as pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds and money management companies, plus hedge funds. There are economies of scale in asset management: you can manage $1… Continue Reading

Why MFin students are a good fit with central banks

Central banks, which are the most important financial institutions in most countries, have typically employed lots of economcs graduates in the past. They might benefit from adding a few finance graduates in future. Central banks have responsibility for controlling inflation and influencing the wider economy. In some nations they also have responsibility for regulating the financial… Continue Reading

Money, money, money – three different meanings

Money can mean physical cash, or the funds in a bank account or the flows of short term funding used by government and companies. No wonder finance can be confusing. * Finance is a subject bedevilled by jargon – words, phrases and acronyms that are barriers to understanding the relatively simple things that actually go on… Continue Reading

US inflation: still showing no signs of being a problem, let alone hyperinflation

Every year when the new MFin class starts, there is usually at least one person who asks the question: when will QE cause a big rise in inflation? The person is often from a hedge fund or trading background because that seems to be where this point of view is most commonly found. The assumption is… Continue Reading