Introduction to Financial Ecology?

May 28, 2012

Suppose you wanted to teach a sociology of finance course to undergraduates. Before teaching them about specific theories, traditions, or histories in the sociology of finance (SSF or New Economic Sociology or political economy, say), you want to introduce modern finance empirically. What is finance? What is it made of? Who are the most important actors, the most important kinds of firms, etc.? What professions influence finance (from law to engineering)? Which regulators are important globally or domestically? Etc.

My question is: how would you teach this material? And most importantly, are there any particularly excellent sources (textbooks, articles, etc.) that do a good job of simply laying out the field of finance in its messy details, but in a level accessible to someone whose existing exposure to modern finance is limited? To put it another way, what I am looking for is an introduction to the ecology of finance aimed, or at least accessible to, non-specialists.

5 Responses to “Introduction to Financial Ecology?”

  1. Einar Says:

    I think Valdez’s Introduction to Global Financial Markets may come close to fit the bill. I came to it (an earlier edition, mind) with little or not background in finance and found it to be very accessible and clear. Covers a wide range of topics as well.

  2. Luke Says:

    I have a similar question as the post, looking forward to new comments.

  3. yuvalmillo Says:

    Hi Dan,
    In an UG course I had taught I used chapters from several textbooks and some introductory microstructure books. The links below are for the most recent additions of the books I used. I assume that there are differences, but these would not be huge, I would thik. Of course, all of these sources have a ‘normative bias’ – they do tend to accept the existing structures rather than analyze how they came about – but I found that they quite good for laying the foundations.

  4. tcs Says:

    The microstructure literature is great for certain things, but what I’ve read of it suggests those folks are generally only interested in pricing on stock *exchanges*. As far as I know, they’ve been a bit slow to pick up on some of the crazier technical/institutional forms that have come to exist in the equities markets, e.g. smart order routing, crossing networks, dark pools, etc. Moreover, you won’t get a sense of the institutional ecology of the fixed income or OTC derivatives markets from reading that material.

    For the OTC derivatives market at least, there isn’t (as far as I know) a good comprehensive description of the institutional ecology. You can glean a lot from textbooks like Hull’s “Options, Futures and Other Derivatives”, but it’s not presented in a straightforward way.

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