Stock ExchangeFinancial Dictionary -> Investing -> Stock Exchange
If a particular company's stock or other instruments are traded on a stock exchange, it is referred to as a "listed" company and is public to anyone. There is no rule that forces companies to issue stock via a stock exchange itself; stock can in theory be traded independently. Companies that are not listed on the stock exchange are said to sell over the counter; these are usually smaller companies with a high level of risk, such as penny stock. This is the usual way that bonds are traded.
Stock exchanges have huge impacts on their economies and the stability of the world's economy. They can help raise capital for businesses through stock and offer investment opportunities for the everyday person on the street. Although it is cliche, fortunes are often made and lost on the stock exchange.