The New Glossary of Finance Terms

The New Glossary of Finance Terms

Bonus:  A form of extortion whereby employees of a company extract either shareholder or taxpayer money for their own pleasure regardless of the success or failure of said company.

Derivatives:  Trading vehicles created by over-educated  finance professionals for whom speculating in stocks and bonds was not quite risky or volatile enough.

Bulge Bracket Firm:  A Wall Street investment bank that is literally “bulging” with off-balance sheet leverage and bloated pay packages for the architects of said leverage.  They used to be referred to as “Too Big to Fail”, circa 2007-2008; they are now extinct.

Credit Ratings:  These are fictitious opinions of health and financial strength that are sold to the highest bidder.  The business of assigning credit ratings to bonds is similar to the business of receiving payola at a radio station for playing a particular record more often than others.  

Department of the Treasury:  This is a government agency in charge of rescuing companies and executives who make bad decisions or investments.  Oh yeah, another minor function they serve is printing the nations currency.

Federal Reserve:  An institution that ensures the inflation and subsequent bursting of asset bubbles roughly every 7 years.

Hedge Fund:  A betting pool, similar to a group of employees or friends who all contribute their money to a pot and buy lottery tickets.  Only in this case, a few of the participants charge everyone else involved a fee for picking which lotto numbers they will play.

Leverage:  A tool used by finance professionals to cultivate the appearance of genius.  Since no one who works in finance is ever wrong, it is not considered dangerous to be levered by a ratio of 33-to-1 at all times.

Managing Director:  A symbolic title without any real responsibility or oversight duties at an insurance company or an investment bank.  Synonyms are Duke, Earl, Count and Prince Regent.

Structured Products:  The financial equivalent of land mines, constructed with radioactive materials and asbestos.  Structured products combine the opacity you want with the destructive potential you need.

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