Capital Markets

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DEFINITION of 'Capital Markets'

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

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Capital Markets'

Capital markets typically involve issuing instruments such as stocks and bonds for the medium-term and long-term. In this respect, capital markets are distinct from money markets, which refer to markets for financial instruments with maturities not exceeding one year.

Capital markets have numerous participants including individual investors, institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual funds, municipalities and governments, companies and organizations and banks and financial institutions. Suppliers of capital generally want the maximum possible return at the lowest possible risk, while users of capital want to raise capital at the lowest possible cost.

The size of a nation’s capital markets is directly proportional to the size of its economy. The United States, the world’s largest economy, has the biggest and deepest capital markets. Capital markets are increasingly interconnected in a globalized economy, which means that ripples in one corner can cause major waves elsewhere. The drawback of this interconnection is best illustrated by the global credit crisis of 2007-09, which was triggered by the collapse in U.S. mortgage-backed securities. The effects of this meltdown were globally transmitted by capital markets since banks and institutions in Europe and Asia held trillions of dollars of these securities.

For more information on capital markets, read: Financial Markets: Capital Vs. Money Markets.

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