The financial markets have grown dramatically in the past two decades. They now affect the fate of entire nations and regions, the tax and spending policies of governments, the interest-rate regimes of central banks, and even the outcome of elections. As such, the financial markets touch the lives of ordinary people. The mortgage rates they pay to finance their homes are increasingly at the whim of traders in London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and New York. The same is true of the public services people receive, such as highways, bridges, parks, schools, unemployment insurance, and old age pensions. More and more people now rely on the financial markets to generate income to purchase houses and cars, as well as to finance their children’s education and their own retirement. This course will familiarize students with the key features of the financial markets. It will begin by explaining what stocks, bonds, derivatives, and currencies are, and introduce alternative investments such as mutual and hedge funds, indexes and index investments. It will then describe the main players in these instruments and how they trade them. With this foundation, the course will then proceed to examine the impact those markets are having on our politics and everyday lives. The guiding question throughout the whole course will be this: are the financial markets, with all their growing might, serving the public interest?