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Vital Signs: swaps, options and other derivatives aren't just for the financial elite

By Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW
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One of the biggest trends in economics over the past 40 years has been so-called “financialisation” – whereby an increasing proportion of GDP in advanced economies comes from the financial sector.

This has involved the development of ever more sophisticated “financial instruments” such as swaps, options and other derivative securities.

The global mobility of financial capital has also given banks and hedge funds massive piles of money with which to make leveraged bets on everything from stock prices to the fourth derivative of the volatility of South American currencies…

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