Practical Financial Markets 001

Current Status
Not Enrolled
Get Started

PFM-001: Money, Cycles, and Economics in the Real World

On completion of this course you will have a broad and robust framework for understanding markets through the lens of cycles, human behavior, and real-world nuance.

Boost your knowledge of real-world economics and financial markets with this in-depth course taught by Brent Donnelly, a 25-year Wall Street veteran currency trader and global macro expert, along with co-author Justin Ross.

This course is suitable for:

  • Students of economics, business, and finance
  • Junior analysts and interns on Wall Street
  • Anyone curious about how financial markets and economics work in the real world

When I graduated with a four-year degree in economics and business, I immediately landed a job on a Wall Street trading floor. I quickly realized I was woefully unprepared for the real world. I learned more about markets in my first four weeks on the trading floor than I learned in my previous four years at university.

This course is my effort to help you avoid this problem. Theoretical finance and textbook economics are great. But you need more than that to understand (and profit in) the real world.


  • One new 30-minute lesson per week (online or email)
  • One video per month featuring special guests (for instance): Kyla Scanlon, Ben Hunt, and Danielle Di Martino Booth
  • 2 hours per month of live discussion / Q&A with Brent Donnelly and Justin Ross
  • Online exams and certificate of completion (optional)
  • Start and finish the course any time (live version runs July to November 2023)
  • Cost is $149 per person

Full Course Description

No matter how many economic models you study or whether you’re Austrian or Keynesian… No matter how much you study theories of value and the efficient markets hypothesis… No matter how much you know about derivatives or interest rate parity or supply and demand curves… you are not prepared for the real world of economics and financial markets.

The real world is not neat, orderly, or theoretical. The real world is driven by complex interconnections and fickle human behavior. It is driven by greed, excess, extreme leverage, fear, and panic. Not models. There are no perfectly rational human actors. There is no homo economicus.

This course will give you a broad, practical, and robust framework through which to understand the real world of markets and finance. The course is accessible to students of finance, newbies, and self-educators with no past experience or background in finance. You’ll enjoy PFM001 even if you’re not a finance professional. If you are interested in understanding history, money, and human behavior, you’ll get just as much out of this course as an econ student.

PFM-001 will give you all the important ingredients for understanding money and markets:

  • Cycles of human behavior
  • Cycles of nations, economies, and financial innovation
  • Key areas where markets are efficient, and times when they are not
  • How traders make money in the real world by understanding edge and inefficiency
  • The Fed, market microstructure, bubbles, and crashes

Every week features real-world stories and examples that link theoretical economics to practical markets in the real world.

This course starts with the 30,000-foot view of cycles, and zooms in fractal by fractal to show you patterns, mechanisms, and nuance in the real-world economy. You might think of this course as a combination between A) a practical history of finance and B) common-sense application of often overly-theoretical topics.

You’ll learn some history, you’ll learn about the pressures that face policymakers and central banks,  you’ll learn about mistakes that repeat themselves over and over throughout history, and you’ll also learn some things that might teach you about where you and your country are right now. We want to equip you to think about money as a well-rounded, self-educated citizen.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us anytime to discuss. Otherwise, see you at school.


The course is divided into seven blocks plus one special mini-block. Each block features four lessons (one per week).

Block 1: Cycles

  • The rise and fall of nations
  • Debt and financial cycles
  • Bubbles, manias, and crashes
  • Narrative cycles

Block 2: Money, Debt and Capitalism

  • A brief history of money
  • The history of capitalism and corporations
  • The competing economic theories that matter
  • MMT and fiscal gone wild (the 2020-2022 hypercycle)

Block 3: Central banks

  • The need-to-know history of central banking
  • The birth of the Fed and the recent death of its reputation
  • Current Fed policy in context
  • How to trade a Fed meeting (a detailed lesson on macro trading)

Block 4: Bonds, yields, and derivatives 

  • The genesis and growth of the bond market
  • The nuts and bolts of interest rates and bonds
  • What drives bond prices and interest rates in the real world?
  • Financial weapons of mass destruction? Understanding derivatives.

Mini-block: What the hell happened in 2008?

  • The scars of the Global Financial Crisis

Block 6: Efficient Markets

  • The history and theory of EMH
  • The reality of EMH: It’s hard but not impossible to make money trading
  • Behavioral Economics: I’m not biased but everyone else is
  • Real-life inefficiencies and how they create edge for traders and investors

Block 7: Market Microstructure

  • The history and evolution of market microstructure
  • Volatility
  • Liquidity
  • Intro to trading: Understand and trade different market regimes