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Finance (Not Economics)
Finance differs from Economics. Each deserves its Community.
Stack Exchange completely fails to distinguish their Economics, Personal Finance and Quantitative Finance sites, because they all have questions on derivatives. As a starter, let's unite all asset pricing questions into one community here.
Annex. Read the following only if you want to know how to distinguish Accounting v. Economics v. Economics.
Accounting means keeping track of things that have already happened - Transactions, A/R, A/P, and preparing the big-three statements (balance sheet, P&L, cash flows).
Finance can include just about all of the rest of these, but in practice, it refers to forward-looking activity, such as budgeting, optimally structuring your company's debt, cost/benefit analysis, comparing the future value of alternative investments, things of that nature.
Economics looks at the biiig picture - Even "micro"economics still deals with how markets behave in the aggregate, rather than how any one transaction will go down. It deals with issues like supply and demand, fiscal policy (on the scale of governments and globally), interest rates, optimal employment levels, etc. Appropriately enough, that linked Investopedia definition refers to it as a "social science", which I never thought of before, but makes sense - Economics essentially deals with herd behavior regarding the allocation of scarce resources.
Investment has a more narrow focus like accounting, but forward-looking; it refers to evaluating how best to commit your current resources to boost future returns. Your first intro to it will typically focus extremely narrowly on how US equities markets work, how to calculate returns under a variety of situations, and how to analyze a 10K.
As for the appropriate classes, the exact name depends on the school, but they'll all have something very, very close to "accounting/finance/economics 101". An intro to investing will probably have a name more like "investment analysis" or "portfolio theory/management".
I edited this universityofauckland post.
Accounting: very little math, a bit of law/rules, mostly about understanding how companies report their financial standing. It isn’t difficult but is quite popular, will leave you quite employable but there will be a decent amount of competition. By third year you’ll understand the ins and outs of all the financial statements and how to properly provide financial reporting on the management accounting side of things too.
Economics: very theory based, you can now complete it without a strong grasp of calculus (they removed most math from many papers). Econ on its own is quite fluffy, and so is often paired with the more hard skills of accounting and finance. Econ is best for jobs in the public sector and research. By third year you’ll be applying economic models to various areas such as unemployment, trade or foreign exchange rates.
Finance: by far the most math heavy. You have to take a stage one and two mathematics paper for your finance major). Finance is less about investing and more about companies and how they do things, while accounting looks into the past (how a firm performed last year), finance looks forward (how will this firm afford capital expenditure next year). Finance also touches on investment mechanisms but is far more focused on the theoretical side. Don’t expect to be taught how to day trade. By third year you’ll be modelling revenue growth and expenses to extrapolate a firm’s cash flows for the next 10 years, then discounted it back to value a company intrinsically.
I edited this r/explainlikeimfive post.
Economics degrees, while they do have business in them, are generally more focused on the more academic aspects of economic theory and how economies function, and to make predictions of the economy and how things affect it. But many economics majors go into a lot of the same jobs that a business major would, but generally don't have the broad academic business background a business major would, across stuff like management, finance, HR, Info system, and real estate.
Finance is a business degree, focused on finance. While "finance" is fairly broad, it could encompass some or all of: Corporate finance, banking, trading, M&A, investing, and so on. It would be a business degree primarily focused in those types of areas. Finance majors go into a variety of jobs, though corporate finance positions and various banking jobs are often hiring many of them.
Finance and investing is not actually economics. Some of economics surrounds investing, but economics as a field is much wider than that. The class will likely cover the concepts behind how you theoretically make economic decisions, and not why putting your life savings into a 3x short leveraged ETF will ruin everything.
Less flippantly though, there's a long debate on whether finance is a subfield of economics, and this debate goes back at least to the PhD thesis of Markowitz. Prof. Milton Friedman famously opposed awarding Markowitz a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago for his portfolio theory because while Markowitz's work was brilliant, Friedman didn't consider it to be economics. I've heard Myron Scholes also express views that finance is to some extent distinct from economics.
Of course, you can find a huge range of views on whether finance is an economics subfield. Clearly much of the early work in finance was done by economists, and finance draws heavily from econometrics, time-series econometrics, and macroeconomics. On the other hand, risk-neutral pricing looks less like classic economics.
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