Category Archives: Stock Secrets

Investment Banking

Formal definition of investment banking would be – A financial intermediary that performs a variety of services. Investment banks specialize in large and complex financial transactions such as underwriting, acting as an intermediary between a securities issuer and the investing public, facilitating mergers and other corporate reorganizations, and acting as a broker and/or financial adviser for institutional clients. Major investment banks include Barclays, BofA Merrill Lynch, Warburgs, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers, UBS, Credit Suisse, Citibank and Lazard. Some investment banks specialize in particular industry sectors. Many investment banks also have retail operations that serve small, individual customers.

The advisory divisions of investment banks are paid a fee for their services, while the trading divisions experience profit or loss based on their market performance. Professionals who work for investment banks may have careers as financial advisers, traders or salespeople. An investment banker career can be very lucrative, but it typically comes with long hours and significant stress.

Because investment banks have external clients but also trade their own accounts, a conflict of interest can occur if the advisory and trading divisions don’t maintain their independence (called the “Chinese Wall”). Investment banks’ clients include corporations, pension funds, other financial institutions, governments and hedge funds. Size is an asset for investment banks. The more connections the bank has within the market, the more likely it is to profit by matching buyers and sellers, especially for unique transactions. The largest investment banks have clients around the globe.

Investment banks help corporations issue new shares of stock in an initial public offering or follow-on offering. They also help corporations obtain debt financing by finding investors for corporate bonds. The investment bank’s role begins with pre-underwriting counseling and continues after the distribution of securities in the form of advice. The investment bank will also examine the company’s financial statements for accuracy and publish a prospectus that explains the offering to investors before the securities are made available for purchase.

African Stock Exchanges

Without beating around the bush, dear reader, here goes: there are a total of 29 exchanges in Africa, representing 38 nations’ capital markets. Africa has two regional stock exchanges: the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières, or BRVM, located in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières d’Afrique Centrale, or BVMAC, located in Libreville, Gabon.

The BRVM serves the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo; the BVMAC serves the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

21 of the 29 stock exchanges in Africa are members of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA). One of the oldest bourses (exchanges) on the continent is the Casablanca Stock Exchange of Morocco, founded in 1929. The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) was founded in 1883 and the JSE Limited in 1887. The Casablanca Stock Exchange is one of Africa’s ten largest exchanges along with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, EGX, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX), and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, who published the invention in 2008 and released it as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without needing an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain. The ledger uses its own unit of account, also called bitcoin. The system works without a central repository or single administrator, which has led the US Treasury to categorize it as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed. Bitcoin is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. It is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for payment processing work in which users offer their computing power to verify and record payments into a public ledger. This activity is called mining and the miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides mining, bitcoins can be obtained in exchange for different currencies, products, and services. Users can send and receive bitcoins for an optional transaction fee.

Bitcoin as a form of payment for products and services has grown, and merchants have an incentive to accept it because fees are lower than the 2–3% typically imposed by credit card processors. Unlike credit cards, any fees are paid by the purchaser, not the vendor. The European Banking Authority and other sources have warned that bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks. Despite a big increase in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin, the cryptocurrency doesn’t have much momentum in retail transactions.

The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media. Criminal activities are primarily centered around black markets and theft, though officials in countries such as the United States also recognize that bitcoin can provide legitimate financial services.

Types Of Financial Markets – Part Three

The OTC Market

The over-the-counter (OTC) market is a type of secondary market also referred to as a dealer market. The term “over-the-counter” refers to stocks that are not trading on a stock exchange such as the Nasdaq, NYSE or American Stock Exchange (AMEX). This generally means that the stock trades either on the over-the-counter bulletin board (OTCBB) or the pink sheets. Neither of these networks is an exchange; in fact, they describe themselves as providers of pricing information for securities. OTCBB and pink sheet companies have far fewer regulations to comply with than those that trade shares on a stock exchange. Most securities that trade this way are penny stocks or are from very small companies.

Third and Fourth Markets

You might also hear the terms “third” and “fourth markets.” These don’t concern individual investors because they involve significant volumes of shares to be transacted per trade. These markets deal with transactions between broker-dealers and large institutions through over-the-counter electronic networks. The third market comprises OTC transactions between broker-dealers and large institutions. The fourth market is made up of transactions that take place between large institutions. The main reason these third and fourth market transactions occur is to avoid placing these orders through the main exchange, which could greatly affect the price of the security. Because access to the third and fourth markets is limited, their activities have little effect on the average investor.


Types Of Financial Markets – Part Two

Cash or Spot Market

Investing in the cash or “spot” market is highly sophisticated, with opportunities for both big losses and big gains. In the cash market, goods are sold for cash and are delivered immediately. By the same token, contracts bought and sold on the spot market are immediately effective. Prices are settled in cash “on the spot” at current market prices. This is notably different from other markets, in which trades are determined at forward prices.

The cash market is complex and delicate, and generally not suitable for inexperienced traders. The cash markets tend to be dominated by so-called institutional market players such as hedge funds, limited partnerships and corporate investors. The very nature of the products traded requires access to far-reaching, detailed information and a high level of macroeconomic analysis and trading skills.

Derivatives Markets

The derivative is named so for a reason: its value is derived from its underlying asset or assets. A derivative is a contract, but in this case the contract price is determined by the market price of the core asset. If that sounds complicated, it’s because it is. The derivatives market adds yet another layer of complexity and is therefore not ideal for inexperienced traders looking to speculate. However, it can be used quite effectively as part of a risk management program.

Examples of common derivatives are forwards, futures, options, swaps and contracts-for-difference (CFDs). Not only are these instruments complex but so too are the strategies deployed by this market’s participants. There are also many derivatives, structured products and collateralized obligations available, mainly in the over-the-counter (non-exchange) market, that professional investors, institutions and hedge fund managers use to varying degrees but that play an insignificant role in private investing.