Here's the deal. I'm going to take you on a flight around the world to
show you the world's financial markets. What we're talking about is
money. Who has it, what it looks like. The bricks 'n' clicks.
Who has it is what I call the `bricks'. The bricks are real. As we look down
they'll be what you see on the ground: the international financial centres
(IFCs) where the financial institutions and the people who work in them reside
- the banks, institutional investors, hedge funds, private equity houses,
brokers, the lot. They're the people with the money.
What it looks like - what forms it takes - I call the `clicks'. These days money is just electronic entries on screens. The clicks are virtual. They're the international financial markets (IFMs), the clouds where all the money floats. What do I mean by money? Currencies and gold for sure. But all those other financial instruments with monetary value too: shares, bonds, derivatives, money market securities and so on. These things used to be traded on the ground, on the trading floors of exchanges. But now the bulk are traded in thin air, incyberspace, between brokers' screens and over the phone.
That's what I mean by the bricks 'n' clicks.
As we fly through the IFM clouds we're going to get right up close to the
weird and wonderful instruments and securities that caused the world's
financial meltdown - securitisation, sub-prime lending, structured investment
vehicles - all of that credit crunch stuff.
But as we look down we'll see an even bigger picture - the world's
economies and how they interact, and how governments stepped in to prevent
In between we're going to touch down in those IFCs: New York, Tokyo,
London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Dubai - even
Chicago, king of derivatives - getting so close we can smell them.
And along the way we'll glide above the island paradises that are the offshore
financial centres (OFCs).
By the end you'll know all about the IFMs, IFCs and OFCs which together
make up the global financial markets. You'll understand all those confusing
acronyms and bits of jargon people in the financial markets like to bandy
about. You too will be an expert.
Strap yourself in. Time to get airborne.