Understanding Investments : Theories and Strategies book cover
2nd Edition

Understanding Investments
Theories and Strategies

ISBN 9780367461904
Published July 8, 2020 by Routledge
672 Pages 99 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This revised and fully expanded edition of Understanding Investments continues to incorporate the elements of traditional textbooks on investments, but goes further in that the material is presented from an intuitive, practical point of view, and the supplementary material included in each chapter lends itself to both class discussion and further reading by students. It provides the essential tools to navigate complex, global financial markets and instruments including relevant (and classic) academic research and market perspectives.

The author has developed a number of key innovative features. One unique feature is its economic angle, whereby each chapter includes a section dedicated to the economic analysis of that chapter’s material. Additionally, all chapters contain sections on strategies that investors can apply in specific situations and the pros and cons of each are also discussed. The book provides further clarification of some of the concepts discussed in the previous edition, thereby offering a more detailed analysis and discussion, with more real-world examples. The author has added new, shorter text boxes, labeled "Market Flash" to highlight the use of, or changes in current practices in the field; updates on strategies as applied by professionals; provision of useful information for an investor; updates on regulations; and anything else that might be relevant in discussing and applying a concept. This second edition also includes new sections on core issues in the field of investments, such as alternative investments, disruptive technologies, and future trends in investment management.

This textbook is intended for undergraduate students majoring or minoring in finance and also for students in economics and related disciplines who wish to take an elective course in finance or investments.

Table of Contents



List of Figures



Chapter 1 The Investment Framework

1. Introduction

2. The General Investment Environment

2.1 Definition of Investments

2.2 The General Investment Environment

2.2.1 Securities

2.2.2 Classification of Securities

2.2.3 Types of Investors

2.3 Financial Markets and Intermediaries

2.3.1 The Roles of Financial Markets

2.3.1 The Roles of Financial Intermediaries

3. The Objectives and Constraints of Investors

3.1 The Objectives of Investors

MARKET FLASH Are you realizing your objectives?

3.2 The Constraints of Investors

4. The Investment Management Process

5. The Role of Investment Information

6. Agency and Ethical Issues in Investing

6.1 Asymmetric Information

MARKET FLASH Reducing asymmetric information

6.2 The Agent-Principal Problem

MARKET FLASH Conflicts between managers and shareholders?

6.3 Ethics in the Marketplace

6.4 Environmental, Social and Governance

6.4.1 Social Responsibility Issues

6.4.2 Environmental Issues

6.4.3 Corporate Governance Issues

7. So, Why Study Investments?

8. Chapter Summary

9. The Plan of the Textbook

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

International Focus: Causes and Consequences of the Financial Crisis of 2008

Lessons of our Times: Lessons of the Global Finance Crisis

Applying Economic Analysis: Utility and Efficiency




Chapter 2 The Investment Decision Process and Investment Strategies

1. Introduction

2. The Investment Process

2.1 The Investor Policy Statement

2.2 The Risk-Return Tradeoff

2.3 The Asset Allocation Step in the Investment Process

2.4 The Security Selection Step in the Investment Process

MARKET FLASH What if the paradigm for long-term investing was to change?

3. General Investment Philosophies and Strategies

3.1 Some Prominent Investment Philosophies

3.2 What is your Investment Philosophy?

3.3 Some Investment Strategies

3.3.1 Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches to Investing

3.3.2 Active and Passive Investment Strategies

MARKET FLASH Active or passive investment strategy?

3.3.3 Other Investment Strategies

3.3.4 Dollar-cost Averaging

3.4.5 Margin Purchases and Short Sales

MARKET FLASH China cracks down margin trading violations

MARKET FLASH Short sales gone bad

4. Types of Markets and Orders

4.1 Types of Trading Markets and Orders

4.2 Types of Trading Orders


4.3 Finding the Equilibrium Price of a Share

5. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Making Investment Decisions

International Focus: Stocks or Bonds amid a Weak Economic Recovery?

Lessons of our Times: Asset Allocation Lessons from Warren Buffett

Chapter 3 Fundamentals of Risk and Return

1. Introduction

2. Measuring Return

2.1 Holding Period Return

2.2 Return over Multiple Periods

2.2.1 Arithmetic mean

2.2.1 Geometric mean

2.2.3 The Effective Annual Rate

2.2.4 Yield Definitions and Conventions

2.2.5 Real Rate of Return

2.2.6 Expected Rate of Return

3. Measuring Risk

3.1 Calculating the Risk of a Single Asset

MARKET FLASH Problems with negative interest rates

3.2 Required Returns and Risk Aversion

3.3 Investor Behavior and Low Interest Rates

3.4 Sources of Risk

3.5 Risk and Investor Economic Decisions

3.6 Utility and Wealth

3.7 Indifference curves and utility function

3.8 Indifference curves and risk aversion

4. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Is It Worth Pursuing Further Education?

International Focus: Why Treasuries have outperformed equities

Lessons of our Times: The Reserve Primary Fund

APPENDIX: A Brief Review of the Time Value of Money



Chapter 4 The Global Financial Environment

1. Introduction

2. The Functions of the Global Financial Markets

2.1 Economic Function

2.2 Pricing Function

2.3 Provision of Services

2.4 Other Functions

3. The Securities Exchanges

3.1 US Organized Stock Exchanges

3.1.1 Types of brokers

3.1.2 NYSE operations

3.1.3 NYSE-related Exchanges

3.2 US Over-The-Counter Exchanges

MARKET FLASH New index for OTC Markets Group

3.2.1 NASDAQ

3.2.2 Other OTC markets

3.2.3 How to read stock tables

3.3 Some US Stock market Indexes

3.4 Some International Stock Exchanges

MARKET FLASH European equity traders want a shorter trading day

3.5 The US Bond Market

3.6 The International Bond Market


4. Trading on the Exchanges

4.1 Clearing Procedures

4.2 Brokerage Services

4.3 Trading Costs

MARKET FLASH Charles Schwab eliminates trading commissions

MARKET FLASH Instances of front-running activities

4.4 Automatic Trading Mechanisms

MARKET FLASH SEC implements a Limit-Up/Limit-Down plan

5. Globalization and the Regulatory Structure of International Stock Markets

5.1 Globalization and Trends

MARKET FLASH Delisting of Chinese stocks?

5.2 Investing Internationally and International Return

5.3 Regulatory Structures in the US Exchanges

6. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Costs and Benefits of Financial Globalization (and Trade)

International Focus: New Offerings by the London Stock Exchange

Lessons of our Times: Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis and Recommendations for Financial Institutions

APPENDIX: Calculating a Stock Market Index


Chapter 5 Money and Capital Markets, Instruments and Strategies

1. Introduction

2. The Money Markets and Its Instruments

2.1 The Money Market and its Characteristics

MARKET FLASH High demand for the international money market

2.2 Money Market Instruments

2.2.1 Non-marketable securities

2.2.2 Marketable securities

MARKET FLASH The global market for commercial paper

MARKET FLASH Repo worries and bailout efforts

MARKET FLASH The debate on replacing the fed funds rate


2.2.3 Yields and Spreads in Money Market Instruments

3.The Capital Market and Its Instruments

3.1 The Capital Market and its Characteristics

3.2 Fixed-Income Securities

3.2.1 Federal Government Bonds

3.2.2 Municipal Securities

3.2.3 Agency Bonds

3.2.4 Corporate Bonds

3.3 Yields and Spreads in Capital Market Instruments

3.4 Equity Securities

3.5 Derivative Securities

4. Investment Risks in Financial Markets

MARKET FLASH Climate-change investment risk

5. Some Money- and Capital-Market Investment Strategies

5.1 Some Money-market investment strategies

5.2 Some Capital-market Investment Strategies

6. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Insider Trading

International Focus: The Greek Debt Crisis

Lessons of our Times: Lessons from Ireland’s Financial Crisis


Chapter 6 Investment Bankers and Investment Companies

1. Introduction

2. Investment Banking

2.1 The Primary Market

2.2 Shelf Registration

2.3 The Investment Banker

MARKET FLASH Leading underwriters in the US

3. Initial Public Offering

3.1 IPO participants

3.2 IPO arrangements

3.3 IPO documents

3.4 Road show and book-building

3.5 Costs of IPO

3.6 Performance of IPOs

4. The Investment Companies Industry

3.1 Functions of Investment Companies

3.2 Net Asset Value

3.3 Types of Investment Companies

3.3.1 Unit Investment Trust

3.3.2 Closed-End Investment Companies

MARKET FLASH The SEC requires CEF to disclose more

3.2.3 Open-End Investment Companies

3.2.4 Fee Structure of Mutual Funds

3.2.5 Picking a Mutual Fund

MARKET FLASH Mutual fund expense ratios fell significantly

3.2.6 Growth of Mutual Funds

3.2.7 Performance of the Mutual Fund Industry

4. Exchange-Traded Funds

4.1 Characteristics of ETFs

MARKET FLASH What is happening with ETFs?

4.2 Regulation of ETFs

5. Some Strategies in Mutual Fund Investments

5.1 Simple strategies

5.2 More robust strategies

6. Other Types of Investment Companies

7. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Cost-Benefit Analysis at the ICI

International Focus: Global IPOs

Lessons of our Times: Bogle on the Mutual Fund Industry




Chapter 7 Diversification and Asset Allocation

1. Introduction

2. The Diversification Principle

2.1 Diversification Types

2.1.1 Naïve or Random Diversification

2.1.2 International Diversification

2.1.3 Efficient Diversification

2.2 Covariance and Correlation

3. The Asset Allocation Process

3.1 The Process of Asset Allocation

3.2 Some Strategies to Asset Allocation

3.3 Some Approaches to Asset Allocation

3.4 Implementing Asset Allocation Approaches

3.5 Asset Allocation and Risk Tolerance

3.6 Importance of Asset Allocation

4. Asset Allocation Examples

4.1 Risky Portfolios and Combined Portfolios

4.2 Some Practical Problems of Asset Allocation

4.3 The Capital Allocation Line

4.4 Borrowing and Lending Opportunities on the CAL

4.5 The Capital Market Line and Investment Strategies

MARKET FLASH Explaining the shifts from active to passive investing

4.6 Asset Allocation and Risk Aversion

4.7 Some Common Diversification Fallacies

5. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: The principle of Diversification

International Focus: The Importance and Consequences Importance of Global Allocation Decisions

Lessons of our Times: Markowitz on the 2008 Financial Crisis

APPENDIX A: Review of Regression Analysis

APPENDIX B: How to compute the Covariance and Correlation in Excel


Chapter 8 Efficient Diversification and Capital Market Theory

1. Introduction

2. The Markowitz Diversification Approach

2.1 The Markowitz Two-Asset Portfolio

2.2.1 Assumptions

2.2.2 Borrowing and Lending

2.2.3 Generalizing risk to many assets

2.2.4 Dynamic Correlations

MARKET FLASH Some reasons for high(er) correlations in recent years

2.2 The Optimal Risky Portfolio and the Capital Allocation Line

2.3 The Efficient Frontier

3. Capital Market Theory

3.1 The Capital Asset Pricing Model

3.1.1 SML vs. CML

3.1.2 Assumptions of the CAPM

3.1.3 Implications of the Assumptions

3.1.4 Deriving CAPM

3.1.5 Interpreting the SML

3.1.6 The Security Characteristic Line

3.1.7 Uses of CAPM

3.1.8 Criticism of CAPM

MARKET FLASH Why is CAPM still in use?

3.2 The Arbitrage Pricing Theory

3.3 Comparing the CAPM and the APT

3.4 Some Important Multi-factor Models

3.5 Portfolio Performance Evaluation

4. CAPM, APT and Investment Decisions

5. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Using Utility Theory to make Decisions Involving Risk

International Focus: What is your 130/30 Strategy?

Lessons of our Times: The Alpha-Beta Debate

APPENDIX A: How to find and graph the Optimal Two-asset Portfolio in Excel

APPENDIX B: The Single-Index Model


Chapter 9 Market Efficiency and Behavioral Finance

1. Introduction

2. The Efficient Markets Hypothesis

2.1 The Notion of Market Efficiency

2.2 The Forms of Market Efficiency

2.3 Implications of the Efficient Market Hypothesis

2.3.1 Implications for Technical Analysis

2.3.2 Implications for Fundamental Analysis

2.3.3 Implications for Active and Passive Investment Strategies

2.3.4 Implications for Investment Managers

2.3.5 Implications for Asset Pricing Models

2.3.6 Other Implications

MARKET FLASH The 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics

3. Anomalies and Tests of Market Efficiency

3.1 Market Anomalies

3.1.1 Return Patterns

3.1.2 Short- and Long-Horizon Returns

3.1.3 The Size and P/E Effects

3.1.4 Announcement Effects

3.1.5 Other Effects

3.2 Summary of Market Efficiency Tests

3.3 Is the Stock Market Efficient?

MARKET FLASH Market Efficiency in the News

4. Behavioral Finance

4.1 Biases in Information Processing

4.2 Biases in Behavior

4.3 Models of Human Behavior

4.4 Implications for Investment Professionals

4.5 Implications for Technical Analysis

MARKET FLASH Contrarian Investors and Lessons

5. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Keynes’ Beauty Contest and Investor Behavior

International Focus: Spain Opens Up Market Reform Consultation

Lessons of our Times: The 'Noisy Market' Hypothesis



Chapter 10 Equity and Fundamental Analyses

1. Introduction

2. Equity Securities

2.1 Common Stock Characteristics

2.1.1 Shareholder Equity

2.1.2 Shareholder Rights

2.1.3 Voting Privileges

2.1.4 Types of Common Stock

MARKET FLASH Dual-class Common Stock

2.1.5 Dividends and Splits

2.2 Preferred Stock Characteristics

2.2.1 Issuers of and Investors in Preferred Stock

3. Stock Market Quotations

4. Management of an Equity Portfolio

4.1 Passive Equity Portfolio Management

4.1.1 Individual Investors

4.1.2 Institutional Investors

4.2 Active Equity Portfolio Management

4.2.1 Individual Investors

4.2.2 Institutional Investors

4.3 Equity Styles

MARKET FLASH Some popular investing myths disputed

4.4 International Equity Investing

4.4.1 The Global Financial Asset Portfolio

5. Fundamental Analysis

5.1 Macroeconomic Analysis

5.1.1 Macroeconomic magnitudes

5.1.2 Economic policies

MARKET FLASH Zero or negative interest rates and investments

5.1.3 The business cycle

5.2 Industry Analysis

6. Chapter Summary

Key Concepts

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Analysis of Porter’s Competitive Forces

International Focus: Predicting the Business Cycle

Lessons of our Times: Money Messes with our Heads

APPENDIX: Guidelines for Conducting Industry Analysis


Chapter 11 Equity Valuation and Investment Strategies

1. Introduction

2. Equity Prices and Returns

3. Some General Valuation Approaches

3.1 Book value

3.2 Price/Book Value

3.3 Price/Sales Value

3.4 Liquidation Value

3.5 Replacement Value

4. The Divided Discount Model and its Variants

4.1 The Dividend Discount Model

4.2 The Constant Growth Model

4.3 The Multi-Stage Dividend Growth Model

4.3.1 Two-stage DDM

4.3.2 Three-stage DDM

4.3.3 Two-stage DDM with growth rate derived

4.4. Using Earnings instead of Dividends

4.5 Some Strategies using Earnings and Dividends

MARKET FLASH Is the P/E ratio dead?

5. Other Equity Valuation Techniques

5.1 Present Value of Cash Flows

5.2 Option Valuation Approach

5.3 Economic Profit

6. Other Issues in Equity Valuation

6.1 The Impact of Inflation on Stock Values

MARKET FLASH Buffett’s advice on stock investing during inflationary periods

6.2 Information Signals/Content of Dividends

6.3 The P/E ratio and the Stock Market

7. Some Strategies on When to Buy/Sell Equities

7.1 When to Buy/Sell a Stock

8. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: To give or not to give dividends? To cut or not to cut dividends?

International Focus: The Crisis and Fair-Value Accounting

Lessons of our Times: Financial Crisis: Time to Buy?




Chapter 12 Bond Fundamentals and Valuation

1. Introduction

2. Overview of Global Bond Markets

2.1 The International Bond Market

MARKET FLASH The US and Japanese Government Bond Markets

2.2 The US Bond Market and its Importance

3. Overview of Bond Basics

3.1 Features of a Bond

3.2 Bond Types and Characteristics

3.2.1 By Type of Issuer

MARKET FLASH Ghana’s venture into the Eurobond market

3.2.2 By Bond Feature

3.2.3 By Other Characteristics

4. Bond Pricing

4.1 Basic Bond Valuation Formulas

4.2 The Inverse Relationship Between Prices and Yields

4.3 Bond Yield Measures

5. Duration and Convexity

5.1 Duration

5.2 Convexity

MARKET FLASH Focus on a bond’s negative convexity

6. The Yield Curve

MARKET FLASH Is a YC steepening good news for investors?

6.1 Significance of the yield curve

6.2 Theories explaining the shape of the yield curve

6.3 A Simple Strategy using the yield curve

7. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: A bond’s reinvestment risk

International Focus: Eurozone’s Sovereign Debt Crisis

Lessons of our Times: Downgrading US Debt

Chapter 13 Bond Portfolio Management and Performance Evaluation

1. Introduction

2. Overview of the Bond Investment Management Process

2.1 Identify Investor Objectives and Constraints

2.2 Establish the Investment Policy

2.3 Select a Bond Portfolio Management Strategy

2.4 Monitor and Evaluate Portfolio Performance

3. Passive Bond Investment Strategies

3.1 Buy-and-Hold Portfolio Strategy

3.2 Indexing Bond Strategies

3.2.1 Pure indexing strategy

3.2.2 Enhanced indexing strategy

3.3 Immunization Strategy

3.3.1 Rebalancing

3.3.2 Dedication Strategy

4. Active Bond Portfolio Strategies

4.1 Interest Rate Anticipation Strategy

4.2 Credit Analysis

4.3 Valuation Analysis

4.4 Bond Swap Strategies

4.4.1 Substitution swap

4.4.2 Yield Swap

4.4.3 Quality Swap

4.4.4 Other reasons for bond swapping

4.5 Yield Curve Strategies

4.6 Horizon Analysis

4.7 Other Active Management Strategies

4.7.1 Horizon Matching Technique

4.7.2 Contingent Immunization

5. Bond Portfolio Performance Measurement and Evaluation

5.1 Bond Portfolio Performance Measures

5.2 Bond Portfolio Performance Evaluation

5.3 Performance Attribution Analysis

6. Bond Market Efficiency and Bond Portfolio Management

6.1 Bond Market Efficiency

6.2 Implications for Bond Portfolio Management

7. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Active of passive investment management?

International Focus: Bond investments in and out of EMU and strategies

Lessons of our Times: Lessons for the European Insurance Industry



Chapter 14 Option Markets and Valuation Models

1. Introduction

2. An Overview of the Options Market

2.1 Basic Option Concepts

2.1.1 Call and Put Option Concepts

2.1.2 Profits and Losses on Options

2.1.3 Options Payoffs at Expiration

2.2 The Market for Options

2.2.1 The Options Clearing Corporation

2.2.2 Options Market Participants


2.2.3 Options Products

2.2.4 Securities with Options

MARKET FLASH CLOs and Leveraged Loans

3. Some Options Trading Strategies

3.1 Covered Call

3.2 Protective Put

3.3 Collar

3.4 Straddle

3.5 Married Put

3.6 Spread Strategies

3.7 Speculating with Options

4. Option Valuation

4.1 Fundamental Option Valuation Concepts

4.2 Binomial Option Pricing

4.3 The Black-Scholes-Merton Option Valuation Model

MARKET FLASH Did the VIX worsen market turmoil in 2018?

4.4 Using the Black-Scholes-Merton Formula

4.5 Put-Call Parity Formula

5. Using Stock Index Options

6. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Purchasing stocks or options?

International Focus: Global Currency Options Volatility Indexes

Lessons of our Times: What, if any, have big banks learned from rogue derivatives traders?

Chapter 15 Futures Markets and Strategies

1. Introduction

2. The Futures Contract

2.1 Elements of Futures Contracts

2.2 The Clearinghouse

2.3 Settlement and Margin

2.4 Reversing Trades

3. An Overview of the Futures Market

3.1 Economic Functions of the Futures Market

3.1.1 Price discovery

3.1.2 Risk Reduction

3.1.3 Hedging

3.1.4 Speculating

3.1.5 Market organization

3.2 Regulation of Futures Markets

3.3 International Futures Exchanges

MARKET FLASH China’s overhaul of its futures market

3.4 The Commodity Futures Market

4. Futures and Spot Prices

4.1 Spot-Futures Parity

4.2 Basis Risk

4.3 Short hedge

5. Financial Futures Contracts

5.1 Some Financial Futures Contracts

5.1.1 Equity Index Futures

5.1.2 Interest-rate Futures

5.1.3 Currency Futures

MARKET FLASH The CME group considers robo-orders

5.2 Information on Financial Futures

5.2.1 S&P Futures vs. Fair Value

5.2.2 Leverage

6. Futures Trading Strategies

6.1 Hedging

6.2 Speculating

6.3 Program Trading and Index Arbitrage

6.4 Using Currency Futures

6.5 Risk Arbitrage

7. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Application of arbitrage

International Focus: CME Group’s Push into Global Markets

Lessons of our Times: OTC Derivatives Market Reform


Chapter 16 Other Investment Topics and Themes in Investment Management

1 Introduction

2 International Parities and Some Strategies

2.1 Useful Concepts

2.2 Interest Rate Parity

2.3 Carry Trade

2.4 International Arbitrage

3 Credit Derivatives

3.1 The Market for Credit Derivatives

3.2 Credit Default Swap

MARKET FLASH Calls for the termination of the CDS market

3.3 Total Return Swap

3.4 Asset Swap

3.5 Collateralized Debt Obligation

4 Alternative Investments

4.1 What Are Alternative Investments?

4.2 Real Estate Investment Trusts

4.3 Hedge Funds

4.4 Private Equity Firms

MARKET FLASH Why private equity firms made fewer deals in 2019

4.5 Infrastructure Funds

4.6 Other Alternative Investments

5 Disruptive Technologies

5.1 Cryptocurrencies

MARKET FLASH The risks of investing in cryptocurrencies

5.2 FinTech

5.3 Smart Beta Analytics

MARKET FLASH The continuing rise of Smart-beta strategies

5.4 Energy Alternatives

6. Trends in Investment Management

6.1 Demographic Shifts

6.2 Cannabis Equities

6.3 Innovative Pricing Schemes

7. Putting It All Together

8. Chapter Summary

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Applying Economic Analysis: Traditional or Alternative Investments?

International Focus: Credit Default Swaps and the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

Lessons of our Times: University Endowments and Alternative Investments



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Nikiforos T. Laopodis is a finance professor at the School of Business and Economics’ Finance Department at The American College of Greece. Dr Laopodis is widely published in the areas of finance and economics on topics such as investments, monetary and fiscal policies, and financial econometrics and in highly respected finance journals. Since 1995, he has been, and continues to be, a regular participant in the Eastern Finance Association, Financial Management Association (US and Int’l) and later in the European Financial Management Association.

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