From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Capital markets are financial markets for the buying and selling of long-term debt or equity-backed securities. These markets channel the wealth of savers to those who can put it to long-term productive use, such as companies/ governments making long-term investments.[a] Capital markets are defined as markets in which money is provided for periods longer than a year. Financial regulators, such as the UK's Bank of England (BoE) or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), oversee the capital markets in their jurisdictions to protect investors against fraud, among other duties.
Modern capital markets are almost invariably hosted on computer-based electronic trading systems; most can be accessed only by entities within the financial sector or the treasury departments of governments and corporations, but some can be accessed directly by the public.[b] There are many thousands of such systems, most serving only small parts of the overall capital markets. Entities hosting the systems include stock exchanges, investment banks, and government departments. Physically the systems are hosted all over the world, though they tend to be concentrated in financial centres like London, New York, and Hong Kong.
A key division within the capital markets is between the primary markets and secondary markets. In primary markets, new stock or bond issues are sold to investors, often via a mechanism known as underwriting. The main entities seeking to raise long-term funds on the primary capital markets are governments (which may be municipal, local or national) and business enterprises (companies). Governments issue only bonds, whereas companies often issue either equity or bonds. The main entities purchasing the bonds or stock include pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and less commonly wealthy individuals and investment banks trading on their own behalf. In the secondary markets, existing securities are sold and bought among investors or traders, usually on an exchange,over-the-counter, or elsewhere. The existence of secondary markets increases the willingness of investors in primary markets, as they know they are likely to be able to swiftly cash out their investments if the need arises.
The money markets are used for the raising of short term finance, sometimes for loans that are expected to be paid back as early as overnight. Whereas the capital markets are used for the raising of long term finance, such as the purchase of shares, or for loans that are not expected to be fully paid back for at least a year.
Funds borrowed from the money markets are typically used for general operating expenses, to cover brief periods of liquidity. For example, a company may have inbound payments from customers that have not yet cleared, but may wish to immediately pay out cash for its payroll. When a company borrows from the primary capital markets, often the purpose is to invest in additional physical capital goods, which will be used to help increase its income. It can take many months or years before the investment generates sufficient return to pay back its cost, and hence the finance is long term.
Together, money markets and capital markets form the financial markets as the term is narrowly understood.[c] The capital market is concerned with long term finance. In the widest sense, it consists of a series of channels through which the savings of the community are made available for industrial and commercial enterprises and public authorities.
Regular bank lending is not usually classed as a capital market transaction, even when loans are extended for a period longer than a year. A key difference is that with a regular bank loan, the lending is not securitised (i.e., it doesn't take the form of resalable security like a share or bond that can be traded on the markets). A second difference is that lending from banks and similar institutions is more heavily regulated than capital market lending. A third difference is that bank depositors and shareholders tend to be more risk averse than capital market investors. The previous three differences all act to limit institutional lending as a source of finance. Two additional differences, this time favoring lending by banks, are that banks are more accessible for small and medium companies, and that they have the ability to create money as they lend. In the 20th century, most company finance apart from share issues was raised by bank loans. But since about 1980 there has been an ongoing trend for disintermediation, where large and credit worthy companies have found they effectively have to pay out less in interest if they borrow direct from capital markets rather than banks. The tendency for companies to borrow from capital markets instead of banks has been especially strong in the US. According to Lena Komileva writing for The Financial Times, Capital Markets overtook bank lending as the leading source of long term finance in 2009 – this reflects the additional risk aversion and regulation of banks following the 2008 financial crisis.