Tag: introduction

Nifty Cash-Futures Basis

Fair value

Equity futures have a ‘fair-value’:

Futures Price = Cash Price [1+r (x/360)] – Dividends;
where x = days to expiration of the futures contract

Fair value is the theoretical assumption of where a futures contract should be priced given such things as the current index level, index dividends, days to expiration and interest rates. The actual futures price will not necessarily trade at the theoretical price, as short-term supply and demand will cause price to fluctuate around fair value. Price discrepancies above or below fair value should cause arbitrageurs to return the market closer to its fair value. – CME

Cash-futures Basis

You can see this in action when you plot the NIFTY index value with its futures:


Initially, x/360 is large, so futures’ trade rich to cash. As expiry approaches, futures and cash prices converge. This is the natural order of things.

Interest Rate

You can go one step further and back out the interest rate baked into these prices:


r is usually within a tight band; roughly around where short-term rates are.

So if you ever wondered why futures are trading higher than cash, now you know!

How is Money Created?

money euro

The Bank of England has an interesting post on how money is actually created in the modern economy.

Money creation in practice differs from some popular misconceptions — banks do not act simply as intermediaries, lending out deposits that savers place with them, and nor do they ‘multiply up’ central bank money to create new loans and deposits.
In the modern economy, most money takes the form of bank deposits. But how those bank deposits are created is often misunderstood: the principal way is through commercial banks making loans. Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.


“Commercial banks create money, in the form of bank deposits, by making new loans. When a bank makes a loan, for example to someone taking out a mortgage to buy a house, it does not typically do so by giving them thousands of pounds worth of banknotes. Instead, it credits their bank account with a bank deposit of the size of the mortgage. At that moment, new money is created.”

When loans are paid off, bank credit money (so-called “broad money”) is destroyed. When more loans are being paid off than are being created, money in circulation diminishes.


The accompanying article also explains how Quantitative Easing (QE) works and dispels many of the myths surrounding it.

How do stock exchanges work?

Today, we’re going to try to understand the basic of how the mysterious world of stock exchanges work. What are the different types of trading systems? How are the players in the markets? What do some of the commonly used terms mean? Some of the content below is referenced from the book ‘An Introduction to Global Financial Markets’ by Stephen Valdez.

Stock exchange systems

Usually, systems in stock exchanges cover one of these patterns –Order-driver systems, Quote-driven systems or a mixture of the two.

Order-driven systems

In Order-driven systems, an intermediary, called a broker matches buy and sell orders at a given price. The broker takes no risk in that shares will not be bought or sold unless there is counterparty with the equivalent deal on the other side and only charges commission. Earlier, this activity tool place on a physical floor with the broker for a given share surrounded by others shouting out buys and sells orders. The broker then matched the orders and declared an official price. Nowadays, computer systems are used, at least for the major shares.

English: Stock Exchange. Collins Street, Melbo...

Orders are entered with a price limit, for example a buyer is prepared to buy 500 shares up to a price limit of $154 or a seller will sell 400 shares but at a price no lower than $151. Some enter an order to be filled at ‘market price’. Before the market opens, these orders are fed into the system. When the market opens, the computer calculates the opening price at which the largest number of bids and offers can be matched. All the orders at the market price are filled as far as possible. Unfulfilled orders are carried forward. During market hours, trading takes place on a continuous basis and the arrival of a new order will trigger a match if matching orders exist on the centralized book. An in-depth display of data of a given security is given at the same time.

Quote-driven systems

In quote-driven systems there is someone called a market maker. They continuously quote bid and offer prices at which they will buy and sell shares. The difference between the two is the spread, which is their profit margin. The systems are therefore quotation driven and market makers can change the quotations whenever they wish. The main quotation driven systems are NASDAQ (in the US) and London’s SEAQ (Stock Exchange Automated Quotations).

We have seen two types of traders – the broker and the market maker. Brokers approach market makers on behalf of their clients and either buy shares from them or sell shares to them. They make a living by charging commission and no risk is involved. Sometimes, a broker may match buy/sell orders from a client if the price is better than that available from a market maker. This leads to the term broker-dealer. Large clients like investment institutions don’t have to use a broker but may approach a market maker directly.

Stock borrowing and lending

A dealer may sell shares they don’t have at the moment, i.e. going ‘short’. Instead of buying the stock prior to settlement, they borrow it from institutions that are willing to lend for a commission. Typically, the stock is paid for and the money returned when the dealer actually buys the stock in the open market and returns it to the institution. The process greatly assists the liquidity of the market. On the other hand, institutions also need to fund their ‘long’ positions. One way to fund them is to lend stock not needed and take the money to help fund other positions.

Thus stock lending may be done by institutions merely to enhance income or by dealers as a means of financing their positions.


Settlement if the process of paying money and receiving stock or receiving money and delivering the stock, basically ‘making good’ on the original transaction. If the stock cannot be delivered without money being credited to pay for it, this is called ‘Delivery Versus Payment’ (DVP) and is the ideal. Usually settlements are ‘rolling settlements’, for example, rolling 3 working day settlement. This means that a deal on Monday must be settled on Thursday. This is called ‘T+3’, i.e. ‘Trade Date + 3’.

Second markets

It is quite common to have a ‘second market’ for shares that do not fulfill all the requirements for a full official listing. In addition, there may be an active ‘Over the Counter’ (OTC) market, for instance, the huge NASDAQ market in the US.

Stock market analysis

Analysts often need to estimate the ‘fair price’ for a company’s stock. Often, this price is simply how much the market is willing to pay for the stock. There are two rewards for buying a share – dividends and an increase in share price. Both of these depend on profits, so analysts determine how the price per share of comparable companies compares to the profit per share. This relationship of the share price to profit is the Price/Earnings or P/E Ratio. Sometimes analysts look at the P/E for the whole stock market and compare this with historical values to see if the market is overpriced or not.  Analysts also look at earnings per share and use this as a measure of the firm’s performance.

This is a high-level bird’s eye view of stock markets! Next week we tackle the complicated world of foreign exchange and international trading.




Introduction To Stock Exchanges

History of the Stock Exchange

The oldest trading companies were either owned by individuals or were family partnerships. In 1553, a British explorer set up an enterprise to find a North East trade route to China and the Orient. 250 merchants put up 25 pounds each to equip 3 ships for the voyage, thus sharing the cost and any eventual profits. This was the birth of the first modern shareholding enterprise, a ‘joint stock company’ called the ‘Muscovy Company’. The famous East India Company was formed in 1600 and was dominant in trading up to about 1850. The importance of the Dutch empire led to the formation of the United East India Company of the Netherlands in 1602 and the Dutch West India Company in 1621.

Thus, trading began in these companies. Europe’s oldest stock exchange was opened in Amsterdam in 1611. In London, brokers and jobbers (as they were called) met in coffee houses. To regulate the market, New Jonathan’s Coffee House was converted into the ‘Stock Exchange’ in 1773. In 1850, the US had about 250 functioning stock exchanges. However, by 1900, New York was totally dominant due to the introduction of the telegraph and ticker-tape.

The role of the Stock Exchange

Stock Exchanges are important as they provide the regulation of company listings, a price formation mechanism, the supervision of trading, authorization of members, settlement of transactions and publication of trade data and prices. However, the role of the stock exchange is becoming hazy as many listing rules are made by government bodies (like the SEC in the US), settlement is being taken over by separate settlement entities and more and more computerized matching systems outside exchanges are capturing business.

Some of the world’s largest exchanges are – the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the London Stock Exchange, Tokyo and the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations). Technically, NASDAQ never had an exchange as such and only deal on computer screens. Their shares are actually ‘over the counter’ (OTC) but the companies are much larger than one usually finds with OTC trading. The market value of a stock exchange is the number of shares in existence multiplied by the share price of each. This is also called ‘capitalization’. Share prices go up and down all the time and the capitalization is only that at the moment when calculation is done.

International Equity

Nowadays, it has become common for multinational companies to seek a listing on several foreign stock exchanges. This may be to attract a wider investor market or because the local market is a little small for the ambitions of the company. The result has been a large expansion in primary market issues and secondary market trading in non-domestic equities. Large new equities are now offered on an international basis and similarly, US mutual funds and pension funds have gradually become less parochial and are investing more abroad.


Share indices are usually based on market capitalization. If the index is of the top 50 companies, say, then ‘top’ means biggest by market capitalization. Sometimes the index is described as ‘weighted’. This simply means that a 1% change in the price of the largest company in the index will have more impact that a 1% change in the price of the smallest. Since the share price is always changing, the ‘top’ shares are not always the same. There is provision for removing some shares and adding others, for example, every quarter.

Modern indices are based on taking the number of shares and multiplying by the price. This gives proper weight to the companies worth the largest capitalization. For example, Standard and Poor’s S&P 500 is an index based on market capitalization. The Dow Jones industrial average, which tracks 30 companies, simply averages the share price using a method known as the ‘constant divisor’. The Dow used to be calculated hourly but is now done every minute.

Stay tuned for next week where I discuss equity markets!



The Money and Bond Markets – Part II

Some markets are domestic (for example transactions in the local currency and under the control of the local central bank) and some are international (for example, a bond denominated in Japanese yen issued in London). There are also money markets, which are short-term (borrowing/lending of money for 1 year or less), and bond markets, which handle longer-term lending.

The Interbank Market

Banks lend money to one another for different periods of time. The deposit rate offered by one bank to another is called the offer rate. Thus, the interbank rates in London are called LIBOR – London Interbank Offer Rate. As London is a huge international market, LIBOR is the most commonly heard of interbank rate. In other wholesale markets, we may hear terms like ‘LIBOR + ¼’, ‘LIBOR + 35 basis points’ etc. The most common maturity period in the interbank market is 3 months.

Money Market Securities

Common money market instruments are –

Treasury Bills – short-term debt instruments issued by governments

Local Authority/Public Utility Bills – also called Munis in the US, issued by local municipalities etc.

Certificates of Deposit – receipts issued by banks for short term deposits by lenders. The advantage to the lender is that the CD can be sold in the secondary market, if they need the money earlier

Commercial Paper – issued by private corporations looking to raise short-term capital

The Bond Market

In some markets the terms bond and note are both used for medium to long-term securities. The US, for instance, has 2, 5 and 10 year Treasury notes and 30 year Treasury bonds.

There are different types of bonds –

Government bonds – These are the most important and often dominate the bond markets. The bonds are typically issued by a central bank or Ministry of Finance and first sold to specialist dealers from where they are sold in secondary markets.

Mortgage and Asset Backed bonds – In some countries, there is a big market for mortgage bonds. In the US, for example, home mortgages are bundled up and used as the backing security for mortgage bonds. The bundle is called Collateralized Mortgages obligations (CMO) or Collateralized Debt securities/obligations (CDS/CDO) .This technique is called securitization of assets and the bonds are called Asset-Backed securities. In theory, securitization can be applied to any stream of income payments.

Corporate bonds –Of course, they are issued by corporates. There are different varieties for example debentures are bond that must be backed by security like land and buildings. Convertibles are bonds that can be converted at a later point (if so chosen) into equity.

Foreign bonds – These are domestic issues by non-residents – ‘bulldogs’ in the UK, ‘yankees’ in the US, ‘matadors’ in Spain, ‘samurai’ in Tokyo and ‘kangaroo’ bonds in Australia! The bonds are domestic bonds in the local currency, only the issuer is foreign. This is different from international or Eurobonds which are binds issued outside their original -country. For example if a non-US firm seeks dollar funding, they can issue bonds in London as Eurobonds or in the US as ‘yankee’ bonds.

Stay tuned for more next week!