Finance is obfuscated, not made accessible, for it is why professionals are paid. Barriers of entry are intentional

Anonymous finance professional

Context - While debating the legitimacy and usefulness of industry-knowledge barriers of entry is arguably interesting, I pursue a rather egotistical goal: learning finance. I believe that understanding finance & economy is part of the foundation of one's sense of agency. But the failed attempts, efforts, time, and energy yielded nothing, but some bitterness.

Form - I agree with this community that textbooks stood the test of time and represent the best form of source for learning. MOOCs and other nascent modern teaching mediums are still work-in-progress, but I am not dogmatic, rather, grateful for having unimpaired access to all mediums and willing to use them.

Opinionated preference - Given my background (mathematics & statistics and no finance/economy), I prefer concise expositions of principles & mechanisms of the system, stripping away, at least at first, any interpretations, be it functional or otherwise. Definitions of concepts, presentation of the environment (people's interests and goals), challenges, and solutions as well as emerging properties would be ideal. Lists and examples would be kept to a minimum, I find them cluttering the discourse.

Fantasized book incipit - Trading, now and later, present and future goods and services creates the opportunity for the specialization of people. Finance is the field and industry concerned with solving the trading implementation. While finance is wildly broad operationally, the problem is concise.

Question - What are the best textbook(s) to learn finance, all of it? It should not take very long, I believe...

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Do you mean corporate finance, i.e. business valuation, or financial accounting / reporting, or the world of finance/trading?

Thank you Sir/Madam for your answer.

I mean all of finance. "Introduction to Finance: Markets, Investments, and Financial Management" by Edgar A. Norton and Ronald Melicher mentions and structures the book in three parts: Institutions and markets, investments (trading), and financial management (corporate finance).

I was hoping this would be it, but in 600p, it seems, there is no mention of money issuance, so I dropped it.

Not sure if this is related to your search for one true textbook, but at some point I found the following error in planning my own self-education. Working through a textbook on an unfamiliar subject is hard, so it looked important to pick a text that covers the right topics, and includes all the right topics, so that I wouldn't be forced to redundantly work through another large text after that. But contrast that impression with reading a 600pp fiction novel! A textbook on a topic you already mostly know is very skimmable, even carefully reading through it without doing the exercises is fast. Conversely, working through a text that can in principle be understood but for which you lack fluency is like learning a new language by picking up a large novel (you won't even rightly know what it's about!) and going through it word by word with a dictionary.

Thus smaller texts whose scope doesn't extend too much outside of what you wish to know are initially more useful than large texts that inevitably have too much extra stuff. This includes piecemeal sources like wiki pages, tutorials, disparate video lectures on youtube, etc. Conversely, once you already know most of what a large text offers, you can pick out the unfamiliar parts you might be interested in and effectively study them, or read through everything to shore up gaps in your knowledge with relative ease, even if it's a 1800pp multi-volume monstrosity. (This assumes that you are not urgently studying for a qualification challenge, when there won't be time to gradually accumulate fluency with a topic.)

1max he2y
I agree with you. Somehow, in the end, what matters to me is that in the course of learning: * [order] notions and their dependencies are introduced in a topological-sorted manner. Be it through multiple small or large texts, or all together in a fat book. * [redundancy] having to read/skim the same notion the least amount of times. I've had trouble finding small piecemeal contents that do not require a whole lot of background knowledge to be understood. Large, comprehensive texts, my thought was, have lower such risks. And I agree that the bigger the piece, the higher the redundancy risk.
3Vladimir_Nesov2y
Well, my point was that redundancy is not actually a problem because fluency robs it of tedium. So if you see it as a major issue, it's inaccurate to say that you agree.
3max he2y
Yes, you are right. I was being a bit flexible saying that I agreed. I only partially agree. I may be too conflict averse.

In any event, I would recommend this one: https://www.amazon.com/Financial-Management-Stephen-Robert-Foerster/dp/039370436X/

1 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:57 PM

I've been asking various people this same question basically and am still looking for (more) concrete recommendations. (Several people basically answered 'work for a finance/investment/trading company', which is ... not ideal!)

I'm tentatively planning on doing a more intense search for this soonish and I'll comment here, or supply an answer, if I find anything that seems promising.