The secondary market, also called the aftermarket and follow on public offering, is the financial market in which previously issued financial instruments such as stock, bonds, options, and futures are bought and sold. Another frequent usage of "secondary market" is to refer to loans which are sold by a mortgage bank to investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
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The term "secondary market" is also used to refer to the market for any used goods or assets, or an alternative use for an existing product or asset where the customer base is the second market (for example, corn has been traditionally used primarily for food production and feedstock, but a "second" or "third" market has developed for use in ethanol production).
With primary issuances of securities or financial instruments, or the primary market, investors purchase these securities directly from issuers such as corporations issuing shares in an IPO or private placement, or directly from the federal government in the case of the government issuing treasuries. After the initial issuance, investors can purchase from other investors in the secondary market.
The secondary market for a variety of assets can vary from loans to stocks, from fragmented to centralized, and from illiquid to very liquid. The major stock exchanges are the most visible example of liquid secondary markets - in this case, for stocks of publicly traded companies. Exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq provide a centralized, liquid secondary market for investors who own stocks that trade on those exchanges. Most bonds and structured products trade "over the counter", or by phoning the bond desk of one’s broker-dealer. Loans sometimes trade online using a Loan Exchange.