Financial Markets – An Overview

When a transaction takes place in financial markets, there is always a risk factor associated with the transaction. The various risks that financial markets are usually associated with are:
• The lender may not repay the money to the borrower,
• There may be an abnormal upward or a downward movement in the price of securities, thereby hampering the interest of the buyer or seller of securities respectively,
• Negative sentiments or expectations may make some financial instruments unattractive or the whole financial market an unattractive place to the investors and force them to withdraw their investments, resulting in deep plunge of prices of the securities which once seemed very luring and attractive,
• Change in the fiscal policies of the government may make the financial markets unattractive for foreign or domestic investors,
• Change in political power in a country may result in a preferential treatment to one industry, and/ or step-motherly treatment to another, which was not foreseeable by the investors, thereby sharply decreasing the value of their securities.
From the above discussion, we can understand that investment in Financial Markets entails a lot of risks. There are other risks associated to investing in financial markets which may be a result of many composite factors which are closely or remotely related; like serious fluctuations in foreign markets or in Indian scenario, failure of monsoons. To tide over this problem, various hedging securities are traded in the financial markets. The holders of these kinds of instrument lower the risk that is associated with financial markets, by purchasing the risk that is associated with a kind of transaction. Therefore, the holders of hedging instruments are not a party to the original transaction. They are merely the ones who minimize the risk in a transaction by purchasing the risk associated with a transaction. Since these financial instruments are derived from another transaction, these instruments are also called ‘derivatives’. The ones who buy the risk are compensated in monetary terms. The higher the risk, higher will be the compensation and vice versa.
“An investor without investment objectives is like a traveler without a destination.”
~Ralph Seger (Founder, Seger-Elvekrog Inc.)
Financial Markets are complex and unpredictable. The movements in financial markets of one country may be the effect of incidents occurring in some foreign land. It may be difficult to comprehend the financial markets at a given time and place. However, an intelligent player in financial markets always takes decisions by carefully studying the trends in the financial markets and closely following the cues in the domestic and international markets.
One also needs to be clear as to why one wants to enter the financial markets. If one wants to enter as an investor, one should invest in securities which have the potential of returning his investment with interest after the period of time for which one wants to invest. In this case one should generally purchase securities which are safe and have a reputation of giving good returns. On the other hand, if one wants to trade in securities, one should carefully study the trends prevailing in the day to day markets and make an intelligent decision by basing one’s judgment on that ground. To minimize risks, one should have a diverse portfolio, so that even if one or some of the investments suffer, the others make good one’s loss.
To conclude, the author would like to admit that financial markets are a very interesting playground, in which a player needs to be flexible and patient. There may be initial hiccups when one starts investing, however, with time, as one starts to understand the financial markets, things start falling in place; and a reminder, never under-estimate the result of a remotely connected incident in financial markets.
“It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.”
~ George Soros (Chairman, Soros Fund Management)
Kawaljit Singh Bhatia