The purpose of this course is to gain a greater understanding of bonds and stocks for the person who has an interest in learning more about finance but may not yet have had much personal experience with it. The aim is to not only make you more informed in managing your own personal finances but also help you become a more informed consumer of the news, make more insightful decisions at work or at school, and be a better citizen of the increasingly financialized world we all live in.
- Learn why stocks and bonds are so important to economic progress and to making societies more profitable and peaceful.
- Describe the specific characteristics of bonds as well as different types of bonds, each of which reflects its particular use in society.
- Learn how changes in the prices of bonds change the actual returns on holding a bond, and how inflation impacts the real return on holding bonds.
- Discuss the various elements that determine the returns to holding bonds and the risk of holding bonds.
- Learn how stocks are valued and how differences of opinion among investors regarding risk and return create the stock market.
- Discuss the role that central banks such as the Fed play in modern economies, and central banks’ role in setting monetary and interest rate policy.
- Learn the factors that influence stock market bubbles and government debt crises including the real factors and psychological influences.
- Invest in stocks and bonds using sound investing techniques, including diversification, long-term investing, and investing in indexed mutual funds.
Lesson 1: Why is Finance through Bonds and Stocks so Important?
We will take a brief look at the history of stocks and bonds and talk about the specific problems that bonds and stocks help us overcome—the problems of imperfect and unequal information about the future.
Lesson 2: What is a Bond?
This lesson describes the specific characteristics of bonds as well as different types of bonds, each of which reflects its particular use in society. We will also describe some basic features of the secondary resale market for bonds.
Lesson 3: What Determines Prices and Interest Rates on Bonds?
In this lesson, we discuss how the two prices related to bonds. We discuss how changes in the prices of bonds change the actual returns on holding a bond even if the interest rate on the bond doesn’t change, and how inflation impacts the real return on holding bonds.
Lesson 4: How Do Bond Markets Work?
In this lesson, we discuss the various elements that determine the returns to holding bonds and the risk of holding bonds. This, in turn, helps us understand why bond prices and interest rates rise and fall.
Lesson 5: How Do Stocks and Stock Markets Work?
This lesson covers the common features of stocks and how they differ from bonds. We will also talk about how stocks are valued and how differences of opinion among investors regarding risk and return create a resale market for stocks—the stock market.
Lesson 6: What Is the Federal Reserve, and How Does Monetary Policy Work?
This lesson discusses the role that central banks play in modern economies, with particular focus on central banks’ role in setting monetary and interest rate policy, the goals of monetary policy, and how changes in policy impact the returns to stock and bondholders.
Lesson 7: What Causes Stock Market Bubbles and Government Debt Crises?
In this lesson, we talk about why these climbs and crashes in prices take place, focusing specifically on the extent to which bubbles and government debt crises are driven by real factors and to what extent they are driven by psychology.
Lesson 8: How Should You Invest in Stocks and Bonds?
The focus of this lesson is on personal finance and the role that bonds and stocks should play in decisions to save for the future, the importance of diversification, investing for the long term and placing your money in indexed mutual funds.
Lesson 9: The Future of Bonds and Stocks
This lesson covers some of the issues and controversies that will shape the future of bond and stock markets: the future of financial innovation, the future of government regulation, the future of government debt crises, and the future of stock market bubbles.