INTRODUCTION TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND CAPITAL MARKETS
The economic development of any country depends, upon the existence of a well organized financial system. It is the financial system which supplies the necessary financial inputs for the production of goods and services which in
turn promote the well being and standard of living, of the people of a country.
Thus, the ‘financial system’ is a broader term which brings under its fold the financial markets and the financial institutions which support the system. The major assets traded in the financial system are money and monetary assets.
The responsibility of the financial system is to mobilize the savings in the form of money and monetary assets and invest them to productive ventures. An efficient functioning financial system facilitates the free flow of funds to more
productive activities and promotes investment. Thus, the financial system provides the intermediation between savers and, investors and promotes faster economic development.
1. Financial System
Finance is a branch of economics concerned with resource allocation as well as management, acquisition and investment.
A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.
c) Financial system
A financial system comprises financial institutions, financial markets, financial instruments, rules, conventions, and norms that facilitate the flow of funds and other financial services within and outside the national economy. It
can be described as a whole system of all institutions, individuals, markets and regulatory authorities that exist and interact in a given economy.
The institutions, government and individuals form the participants in various markets; money markets (including foreign exchange) and capital markets (including security) markets. The participant buy (borrow) and sell (lend)
money to different parties at a price (interest or dividend) within the market, which is determined by the forces of demand and supply.
Financial systems are crucial to the allocation of resources in a modern economy. They channel household savings to the corporate sector and allocate investment funds among firms; they allow inter-temporal smoothing of
consumption by households and expenditures by firms; and they enable households and firms to share risks. Since these functions take place in a market oriented environment, there is a need for an independent party to
enforce rules and contracts and this is the regulator. The main regulatory authorities of the financial institutions that constitute the financial system of a given economy are the Central Bank and Capital Market Authority.
1.1 The role of financial system in the economy
The financial sector provides six major functions that are crucial for the survival and efficient operation of any given economy. These functions are outlined below:
1. Providing payment services.
It is inconvenient, inefficient, and risky to carry around enough cash to pay for purchased goods and services. Financial institutions provide an efficient alternative. The most obvious examples are personal and commercial
checking and check-clearing and credit and debit card services; each are growing in importance, in the modern sectors at least, of even low-income countries.
2. Matching savers and investors.
Although many people save, such as for retirement, and many have investment projects, such as building a factory or expanding the inventory carried by a family micro enterprise, it would be only by the wildest of
coincidences that each investor saved exactly as much as needed to finance a given project. Therefore, it is important that savers and investors somehow meet and agree on terms for loans or other forms of finance. This can occur
without financial institutions; even in highly developed markets, many new entrepreneurs obtain a significant fraction of their initial funds from family and friends. However, the presence of banks, and later venture capitalists or stock markets, can greatly facilitate matching in an efficient manner. Small savers simply deposit their savings and let the bank decide where to invest them.
3. Generating and distributing information.
One of the most important functions of the financial system is to generate and distribute information. Stock and bond prices in the daily newspapers of developing countries are a familiar example; these prices represent the
average judgment of thousands, if not millions, of investors, based on the information they have available about these and all other investments. Banks also collect information about the firms that borrow from them; the resulting
information is one of the most important components of the capital of a bank although it is often unrecognized as such. In these regards, it has been said that financial markets represent the brain of the economic system.
4. Allocating credit efficiently.
Channeling investment funds to uses yielding the highest rate of return allows increases in specialization and the division of labor, which have been recognized since the time of Adam Smith as a key to the wealth of nations.
5. Pricing, pooling, and trading risks.
Insurance markets provide protection against risk, but so does the diversification possible in stock markets or in banks’ loan syndications.
6. Increasing asset liquidity.
Some investments are very long-lived; in some cases – a hydroelectric plant, for example- such investments may last a century or more. Sooner or later, investors in such plants are likely to want to sell them. In some cases, it can be
quite difficult to find a buyer at the time one wishes to sell – at retirement, for instance. Financial development increases liquidity by making it easier to sell, for example, on the stock market or to a syndicate of banks or insurance companies.