Note: Just to sort out any confusion, I'm referring to the financial kind not those found in calculus.
My cousin and I have been curious as to what these are ever since seeing that Michael Moore doco 'Capitalism: A Love Story'. Now, whilst I don't really respect him as a film maker due to the incredibly biased nature of everything he makes, this doco got us thinking about the financial system in general and how it works. There's a hilarious scene where he asks people - including a Harvard Prof. of Economics - to explain what a derivative is, and even though (we can assume) they all know, they can't seem to be able to explain it. This set us off on our own quest to find out what they are exactly, once again wikipedia proved useful but it's hard to get an idea of what they are without being exposed to examples. In summary, they are a type of alternative investment and are generally traded in connection to an underlying asset in various ways. Now I want to know what you guys think of the financial system in general - is it too complicated/boring for the average Joe? Do you have any stocks of your own? Any other thoughts welcome also.