There seems no end to the number of websites that provide stock price data or investment tutorials. A patron looking for personal finance basics can choose among a number of free online resources (including those offered by many of the news sites noted above). The Financial Industry Regulation Authority serves as a regulatory, enforcement, and arbitration arm of the SEC, and its FINRA Investor Education Foundation website provides “underserved Americans with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life.” It offers tutorials and games tailored to several audiences, survey results of the National Financial Capability Study (CH, May’11, 48-5199), programming ideas, and information about grants. FINRA has collaborated with the American Library Association (ALA) to develop a site called Smart Investing@Your Library.
The Investor’s Clearinghouse offers reports and other information on consumer finance issues like compulsive buying, senior investment fraud, retirement savings, and home equity. It is produced by the Alliance for Investor Education, a nonprofit group comprising finance-related associations (including FINRA) and advised by the Federal Trade Commission, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Assistance, and other reputable investment-related organizations.
Investopedia is a great place to start to learn the basics of stocks—what they are, how they are traded—and a grounding in more complicated aspects of trading and investing. It offers a dictionary of common investment terms, articles on everything from investing basics to retirement to Forex, the foreign exchange (FX) market, plus tutorials, investment simulators, professional certification test prep, and financial calculators. There are ads, and some features require free registration. Campbell R. Harvey’s Hypertextual Finance Glossary is also an outstanding resource to consult for mysterious terminology and acronyms.
In-depth tutorials on specific areas of finance and investment appear on sites focused on single topics. Investing in Bonds, produced for the public by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, is a good starting point for learning bond basics and buying and selling. It offers a range of articles and clear explanations of the various bond markets, including municipals, corporates, government bonds, and mortgage- and asset-backed securities. The Investment Company Institute offers an informative site with links to its annual Investment Company Fact Book to enhance public understanding of policy issues, particularly those involving legislation and regulation, the US economy, and retirement security.
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s website, particularly the CFTC Education Center site under its Consumer Protection section, is an excellent starting point, offering a handy glossary for learning about commodities. The CFTC is to commodities what the SEC is to stocks—assuring integrity and protecting investors. One notably comprehensive guide to commodity and futures resources is Stock & Commodity Exchanges from Rutgers University Libraries. It lists exchanges worldwide, including those dealing in futures, options, and derivatives, along with sources for market or stock prices and reports.