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Capital Markets

Capital Markets

By Investopedia Staff | Updated September 29, 2015


Capital markets aremarkets

aremarkets for buying and selling equity and debt instruments. Capital markets channel savings and investment between
of capital such as retail investors and institutional investors,
investors, and users of capital like businesses, government and individuals. Capital mar
vital to the functioning of an economy
economy,, since capital is a critical component for generating economic output. Capital markets include
markets,, where new stock and bond issues are sold to investors, and secondary markets,
markets, which trade existing securities


Capital markets are a broad category of markets facilitating the buying and selling of financial instruments.
instruments. In particular, there are two ca
financial instruments that capital in which markets are involved. These are equity securities, which are often known as stocks, and
which are often known as bonds. Capital markets involve the issuing of stocks and bonds for medium-term and long-term durations
of one year or more.

Capital markets are overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States or other financial regulators elsewhere. Th
markets are generally concentrated in financial centers around the world, most of the trades occurring within capital markets take place t
computerized electronic trading systems.
systems. Some of these are accessible by the public and others are more tightly regulated.

Other than the distinction between equity and debt, capital markets are also generally divided into two categories of markets, the first of
primary markets. In primary markets, stocks and bonds are issued directly from companies to investors, businesses and other institution
through underwriting
underwriting.. Primary markets allow companies to raise capital without or before holding an initial public offering so as to make
direct profit as possible. After this point in a companys development, it may choose to hold an initial public offering so as to generate mo
capital. In such an event, the company will generally sell its shares to a few investment banks or other firms

At this point the shares move into the secondary market, which is where investment banks, other firms, private investors and a variety o
parties resell their equity and debt securities to investors. This takes place on the stock market or the bond market,
market, which take place on
around the world, like the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ
;though it is often done through computerized trading systems as well
securities are resold on the secondary market, the original sellers do not make money from the sale. Yet, these original sellers will likely c
hold some amount of stake in the company, often in the form of equity, so the companys performance on the secondary market will con
important to them.

Capital markets have numerous participants including individual investors, institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual fund
municipalities and governments, companies and organizations, banks and financial institutions.
institutions. While many different kinds of groups, in
governments, may issue debt through bonds (these are called government bonds),
bonds), governments may not issue equity through stocks. Sup
capital generally want the maximum possible return at the lowest possible risk
risk,, while users of capital want to raise capital at the lowest po

The size of a nations capital markets is directly proportional to the size of its economy. The United States, the worlds largest economy, h
largest and deepest capital markets. Because capital markets move money from people who have it to organizations who need it in order
productive, they are critical to a smoothly functioning modern economy. They are also particularly important in that equity and debt sec
often seen as representative of the relative health of markets around the world.

On the other hand, because capital markets are increasingly interconnected in a globalized economy, ripples in one corner of the world c
major waves elsewhere. The drawback of this interconnection is best illustrated by the global credit crisis of 2007-09
2007-09,, which was triggere
collapse in U.S. mortgage-backed securities.
securities. The effects of this meltdown were globally transmitted by capital markets since banks and in
Europe and Asia held trillions of dollars of these securities.


People often confuse or conflate capital markets with money markets,

markets, though the two are distinct and differ in a few important respects.
markets are distinct from money markets in that they are exclusively used for medium-term and long-term investments of a year or mor
markets, on the other hand, are limited to the trade of financial instruments with maturities not exceeding one year. Money markets also
different financial instruments than capital markets do. Whereas capital markets use equity and debt securities, money markets use depo



Capital Markets

collateral loans, acceptances and bills of exchange.

Because of the significant differences between these two kinds of markets, they are often used in different ways. Due to the longer durati
investments, capital markets are often used to buy assets that the buying firm or investor hopes will appreciate in value over time so as to
capital gains,
gains, and are used to sell those assets once the firm or investor thinks the time is right. Firms will often use them in order to raise

Money markets, on the other hand, are often used to general smaller amounts of capital or are simply used by firms as a temporary repos
funds. Through regularly engaging with money markets, companies and governments are able to maintain their desired level of liquidity
basis. Moreover, because of their short-term nature, money markets are often considered to be safer investments than those made on the
market.. Due to the fact that longer terms are generally associated with investing in capital markets, there is more time during which the s
question may see improved or worsened performance. As such, equity and debt securities are generally considered to be riskier investme
those made on the money market.

For more information on this distinction and on capital markets, readFinancial

readFinancial Markets: Capital Vs. Money Markets.
Markets. Also seeCapital
seeCapital Ma
- Introduction To Capital Markets History,
A Look At Primary And Secondary Markets,
The Global Electronic Stock Market,
How They Work and
The Birth Of Stock Exchanges.

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