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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2020/2021

Financial Economics

Type: Elective course (Economics and Statistics)
Area of studies: Economics
Delivered by: School of Finance
When: 3 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: offline
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4
Contact hours: 64

Course Syllabus


This is an introductory course in Finance which covers the basic principles of financial markets and asset pricing. We will discuss different financial instruments and how to use them for investment or hedging purposes. We will proceed to the basics of asset valuation. The starting point will be the present value formula. We will then talk about fixed-income securities, their valuation and the term structure of interest rates. The course will then move to stocks, starting with portfolio theory and then deriving the relation between risk and return. We will study the main asset-pricing models: the CAPM and the APT. We will talk about empirical multifactor models and various risk factors. We will discuss the major asset-pricing anomalies and investment strategies which exploit them. Finally, we will turn to derivatives, their replication and valuation based on no-arbitrage principle, and the use of them for hedging purposes. The course consists of lectures and classes. Each lecture is followed by a class where students solve numeric problems. There are short quizzes in every second class. You must write a quiz in the class to which you are assigned, and you are not allowed to leave the classroom right after the quiz. Attendance of other classes is only permitted in exceptional circumstances, and the class-teachers must be notified in advance. There is a written mid-term test in the middle of the course and a written final test at the end of the course. There is no make-up for the quizzes and the mid-term test. If a student misses a quiz or a mid-term test due to illness (supplying an evidence), the final grade is determined as follows: Final grade = Cumulative grade/(1-ωi/2), where ωi is the weight of test i. If a student’s final grade is below the pass bar, or if the student missed the final test, the re-take procedure follows the HSE rules. If a student missed the final test due to illness, there is a second attempt during the retake period. The final grade is calculated in percent, divided by 10 and rounded according to mathematical rules. No normalization is applied.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Familiarize students with various financial instruments, financial markets and basic principles of asset pricing and risk management.
  • Students will be familiar with financial terminology in English and Russian.
  • Students will know how to form and diversify portfolios of assets, how to find expected returns and risks of assets and portfolios of assets.
  • Students will be able to find fair prices of financial assets and make investment decisions.
  • Students will know the notion of risk premium and models characterizing equilibrium risk premiums.
  • They will also be familiar with the most popular asset-pricing anomalies and the basics of behavioral pricing.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Be able to use different financial instruments for investment or hedging purposes
  • know how to form and diversify portfolios of assets
  • know how to find expected returns and risks of assets and portfolios of assets
  • be able to find fair prices of financial assets and make investment decisions
  • know the notion of risk premium and models characterizing equilibrium risk premiums
  • be familiar with the most popular asset-pricing anomalies and the basics of behavioral pricing
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Financial markets and instruments
    Direct and indirect financing, their advantages and disadvantages, debt and equity instruments, money market instruments, capital market instruments, derivatives. Types of financial markets. Anglo-Saxon and German financial models.
  • Discounting
    Future value, present value, discount rate, discount factor, net present value rule, annuity, perpetuity, valuing annuities and perpetuities with and without growth, return definitions: realized return, required return, fair return, hurdle rate, expected return, opportunity cost of capital, weighted average cost of capital, compound and simple interest rates, nominal and real interest rates.
  • Bond market
    Bonds, coupons, discount bonds, consol bonds, convertible bonds, callable bonds, yield to maturity, coupon yield, valuation of bonds, duration, term structure of interest rates.
  • Stock market
    Common and preferred stocks, dividends, cumulative and non-cumulative stocks, IPO, secondary market, par value, book value, market value, holding period return, capital gain, dividend yield, payout ratio, retention ratio, EPS, P/E ratio, return on equity, valuation of stocks: Dividend Discount Model, Gordon growth model, present value of growth opportunities.
  • Portfolio theory and diversification
    Measuring risk: variance and standard deviation of returns, covariance and correlation, portfolio expected return, portfolio variance, idiosyncratic (nonsystematic) and market (systematic) risk, diversification, market beta, Sharpe ratio, Treynor ratio.
  • Asset pricing models: the CAPM
    Markowitz portfolio theory, mean-variance analysis, efficient frontier, two-fund separation theorem, the market portfolio, the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), capital market line, security market line, criticism of the CAPM.
  • Asset pricing models: the APT
    Multifactor models, factor betas, replicating portfolios, factor replicating portfolios, the Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT).
  • Empirical multifactor models
    Size and value premiums, the 3-factor Fama-French model, momentum strategies, the Carhart 4-factor model, liquidity risk factor, volatility risk factor, downside risk factor, two-beta CAPM, local and global multifactor models, the 5-factor Fama-French model.
  • Options and option pricing
    Types of options, option pricing, option premium, replication of options, the one-period binomial model, the multi-period binomial model, the risk-neutral pricing, the Black-Scholes formula, the put-call parity, hedging by options, portfolios of options.
  • Types of information in financial markets
    Notion of market efficiency, strong, semi-strong and weak form efficiency, implications of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis: technical and fundamental analysis, tests of market efficiency, no-arbitrage principle.
  • Asset-pricing anomalies
    Mood and asset pricing: weather effect, seasonality, holidays, geomagnetic storms, lunar phases, sport competitions and games, terrorist attacks.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation in classes
  • non-blocking quizzes
    Student must write quizzes in their regular seminar group to which they are assigned. Moving to another group is allowed in exceptional circumstances and only with a permission of the class-teacher. It is unacceptable to leave a class right after a quiz before the end of the class unless you have a valid reason and a permission of the class-teacher.
  • non-blocking mid-term test (distantly)
    There is no re-take for the mid-term test. If a student misses the mid-term test due to illness, the final grade is determined as follows: Final grade = Cumulative grade/(1-ωi), where ωi is the weight of the test. If a student misses the mid-term test without supplying an evidence of illness (or another valid reason), the student gets zero for this form of control without any adjustment of the final grade.
  • non-blocking final test
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.6 * final test + 0.25 * mid-term test (distantly) + 0.06 * Participation in classes + 0.09 * quizzes


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Essentials of investments, Bodie, Z., 1998
  • Principles of corporate finance, Brealey, R. A., 2011

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Financial markets and corporate strategy, Hillier, D., 2012