International Finance and Financial Policy

By Hans R. Stoll | Go to book overview

19
Financial Futures Markets

RICHARD L. SANDOR

The decade of the 1970s witnessed the largest transformation in the history of the futures markets with the introduction of financial futures markets--foreign exchange and interest rate futures. These developments were followed by the introduction of stock index futures during the 1980s. The latter period also witnessed the extension of these markets into options on these futures as well as trading of similar contracts in time zones around the world. 1

The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview of these markets as well as to describe new technologies and techniques associated with the use of financial futures. The paper will be divided into three sections: the background and current status of financial futures, a brief history of stock index futures and options, and a description of new technologies, and techniques in the use of these markets.


BACKGROUND AND CURRENT STATUS OF FINANCIAL FUTURES

Financial futures and options markets are divided into three distinct categories. In accordance with their domestic and international rankings in volume and open interest they are: interest rates, stock indices, and currencies. Figure 19.1 is a chart describing the growth in volume for financial futures in U.S. markets during the last ten years. A significant portion of this recent growth is a reflection of the demands created by the burgeoning economies of the Pacific Rim--particularly Japan. Table 19.1 represents a listing of the most widely traded contracts on a global basis.

It is interesting to note how the profile of futures trading has changed since the introduction of interest rate futures in 1975. At that time financial futures

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