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Financial and Business terms Dictionary
Financial Dictionary
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The diagonal (approximate, to four decimal places) of a 1 x 1 square, also known as Pythagoras's Constant, and therefore also the ratio (1:1.4142) for calculating the diagonal side of a right-angled triangle in which the two short sides are of equal length.


The Golden Number (to four decimal places). Also known as the Golden Section, Divine Proportion, and phi (pronounced 'fy' as in the word 'fly') the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet. Also loosely referred to as Golden Ratio (1:1.618). Phi is used intentionally or instinctively in many different areas of design, for example architecture, music, and art. Phi is also an easy 'secret' to achieving aesthetically pleasing positioning and proportions. The Golden Ratio is found in diverse designs such as Stradivarius violins, the Pyramids, Notre Dame Cathedral, and in nature, for example the human face.


Pi, normally represented by the Greek letter pi (P) symbol Π. Pi is typically used for calculating the area (pi x radius squared) or circumference (pi x diameter) of a circle. Pi has an infinite number of decimal places, and fascinates mathematicians in calculating pi itself, and memory experts too in memorizing as much of it as possible.

72 Rule

More commonly known as the Rule of 72, with variations 69 and 70, these are standard figures used by financial folk in calculating quickly the years required for an investment to double (or to halve) at a given interest rate. Typically 72 is divided by the compound interest rate to give the approximate years. 72 is more popular than 69 or 70 because it is quite reliable and easily divisible quickly by lots of different numbers.

80/20 Rule

The theory that 20% of effort produces 80% of results, and very many similar effects; also known as Pareto Rule or Pareto Principle, after its originator.

360 Degree Feedback

An appraisal method typically entailing feedback about a manager given by fellow workers.

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The process by which a party will allow an option to expire or lapse unexercised.

Accreting swap

A swap with an increasing notional amount as set out in a predefined schedule.

Accrued interest

The interest which is accumulated on a security, either from the date of issuance or the previous coupon payment date, to the present date. The accrued interest is paid at determined payment intervals throughout the life of the security.


A physically settled equity forward transaction where the number of shares to be delivered is not known at trade inception. The stock to be delivered accrues on a daily basis until either the share price breaches a pre-defined barrier, or a maximum number of Scheduled Trading Days has elapsed.


The process by which market participants sign up to an ISDA Protocol or to certain trade event processing capabilities within the Trade Information Warehouse.

Adjustment Amount

A penalty amount paid to ISDA for the submission of off-market bids into a Credit Event Auction. If the Open Interest is to sell, high bids are penalised. If the Open Interest is to buy, low offers are penalised.


The process by which two counterparties verify that they agree upon the primary economics of a trade. The affirmation process may be done by telephone, voice recording, email or via an electronic checkout platform.


The process by which a block trade is executed by an asset manager and is then divided (allocated) to individual funds (or sub-funds) managed by that asset manager.


A risk adjusted measure of investment fund performance. Alpha measures the excess of return over the level of risk borne.


A mountain range option where the Buyer receives a large fixed coupon if none of the underlying assets in the basket breaches a pre-determined barrier during a pre-determined time period. If one of the underlying assets does breach the barrier, the Buyer receives the payout of either a plain vanilla or Asian call on the basket.

American Depository Receipt (ADR)

See Depository receipt.

American option

An option that can be exercised at any time during the term of the option, up to and including its Expiration Date.

Amortising swap

A swap with a decreasing notional amount, as set out in a predefined schedule.


An option where the Buyer only receives a payout if none of the underlying assets in the basket ever fall below a pre-determined barrier during a pre-determined time period.


A strategy to take advantage of profitable opportunities in different markets arising from differential price anomalies.

Asian option

See Average rate option.


See Offer / Ask price.

Asset Backed Security (ABS)

A type of bond or note typically issued by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) where the bond or note is backed by an underlying pool of assets. The principal and interest generated by the underlying pool of assets services the principal and interest obligations of the bonds or notes.

Asset swap

A structure involving both the sale of an asset to a counterparty and an interest rate swap packaged as a single transaction. In the case of asset swaps with respect to bonds, the asset will usually be a fixed rate instrument where the investor is seeking a floating rate return. The investment bank will therefore package the fixed rate bond together with an interest rate swap, swapping the fixed return on the bond for a floating return, thereby providing the investor with a synthetic floating asset.


See Novation.


A mountain range option where the best- and worst-performing underlying assets are removed from the basket and the payout is calculated by reference to the performance of the remaining underlying assets in the basket.

Attachment point

The trigger point at which a tranche becomes exposed to losses in the underlying portfolio. For example, a tranche with an attachment point of 3% will reduce after a cumulative loss of 3% in the underlying portfolio has occurred.


1) A transaction whose price is the same as the prevailing market price of the relevant underlying at the time of trading.

2) An order to buy or sell a futures contract at whatever price is obtainable when the order reaches the trading facility, sometimes called a market order.

3) An option where the exercise price (= Strike Price ) is equal, or very close to, the current market price of the underlying. This option has no intrinsic value.

Auction Date

The date on which a Credit Event Auction takes place.

Auction-Settled Transaction

A credit derivative transaction which is cash settled with reference to the Final Price, as determined in the Credit Event Auction initiated by ISDA.

Auto adherence

The automatic submission of a portfolio of transactions into the processing of a lifecycle event within the Trade Information Warehouse. Auto adherence requires a positive request by the counterparty to any such transaction(s) to be included in processing the relevant event, whereas auto-auto adherence involves trades being selected for processing by the Warehouse.

Auto callable

An exotic option which terminates and pays an enhanced return if a defined barrier level is breached on a pre-defined date. Auto callable trades are often used to hedge equity linked notes.

Automatic Exercise

A commonly used election whereby an option or swaption transaction is deemed to be exercised, provided that it is in-the-money on the Exercise Date, without the need to serve notice.

Average rate option

An option where the settlement is based on the difference between the Strike Price and the average price of the underlying instrument over a predetermined period. An average rate option is also known as an Asian option.

Average strike option

An option where the Strike Price is calculated as the average of a defined number of observations of the average price of the underlying instrument over a predetermined period.

Averaging Date Disruption

A term defined in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions to describe how Averaging Dates are adjusted if they are subject to a Market Disruption Event. There are three possible elections: Postponement, Modified Postponement and Omission.

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The process of inputting trade records into the DTCC Trade Information Warehouse. The process includes agreeing the full economics and legal documents between two counterparties before the trade is placed in the Warehouse to create the gold record. Central Clearing Counterparties now have their own procedures for backloading confirmed trades which are eligible for clearing.


A condition in which prices for delivery of a commodity are lower in the succeeding delivery months than in the immediate delivery month. It is also used in the futures market to describe an inverted forward curve. The opposite of "contango" .

Bad Business Day

A day on which banks are not open for business in the relevant financial centre, being a day on which it is not possible to make payment. Exchanges are normally closed on bad Business Days.

Banker's acceptance

A short-term credit investment created by a non-financial firm and guaranteed by a bank. Acceptances are traded at a discount from face value on the secondary market. Banker's acceptances are very similar to T-bills and are often used in money market funds.


A Credit Event applicable in the majority of credit default swaps where the Reference Entity is a Corporate (Bankruptcy does not apply to Sovereign Reference Entities). Bankruptcy events include the Reference Entity being dissolved, becoming insolvent, making an arrangement for the benefit of its creditors, being wound up, seeking the appointment of an administrator, liquidator, conservator or other similar official or having a judgment of insolvency made against it. See also Credit Event.

Barrel (bbl)

Measure of volume for crude oil and petroleum products. Barrel, US barrel and standard barrel are all equal to 42 US gallons (=158.9873 liter).

Barrier option

A financial instrument which can be exercised where either: the price of the underlying instrument has not reached or crossed a predetermined level; or the price of the underlying instrument has reached or crossed a predetermined level. See also Knock-in / -out Event.

Basis (Gross)

1) The difference between the relevant cash instrument price and the futures price. Often used in the context of hedging the cash instrument.
2) The difference between the value of commodities at different locations.

Basis point

One basis point is one hundredth of one percent, or 0.01%.

Basis risk

The risk of loss arising from the difference between the economic or legal terms of two transactions that are intended to hedge one another.

Basis swap

An interest rate swap where the cashflows that are exchanged between each party are different types of Floating Rates or prices.


A bespoke, synthetic portfolio of underlying assets whose components have been agreed for a specific OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative by the parties to such transaction.

Basket option

A option that may be exercised based on the weighted average performance of several underlying instruments.

Bermudan option

An option that can be exercised on a number of specific dates within the Exercise Period.

Bid price

The price at which a trader or market maker is willing to purchase a contract to enter into a transaction.

Big Bang Protocol

An ISDA protocol (published April 8, 2009) which added auction settlement as the standard form of settlement for eligible Credit Default Swap (CDS) contracts, but explicitly excluded settlement following the occurrence of a Restructuring Credit Event. The protocol also established the ISDA Determinations Committees who make binding decisions on eligible CDS transactions as to: whether a Credit Event has occurred; whether an auction will be held; and whether a particular obligation of the defaulted Reference Entity is deliverable. Also known as the March 2009 Supplement. See also ISDA Determinations Committees and Small Bang Protocol.

Bill of Lading (BoL)

A document issued by a carrier to a shipper acknowledging that specified goods are received on board as cargo for conveyance to a named place for delivery to the consignee. Often shortened to BL, BoL or B/L.

Binary settlement

A payout under a derivative contract that is a fixed amount. This is also known as digital settlement.

Black-Scholes model

A mathematical model used to determine the price of European put or call options. The inputs to a Black-Scholes model are: Strike Price, current price of the underlying, time to maturity, volatility and the level of interest rates.

Block trade

A single trade transacted by an asset manager or hedge fund, which is then allocated to a number of different funds managed by that asset manager.


A certificate of debt, generally long-term, under the terms of which an issuer contracts to pay the holder a fixed principal amount on a stated future date (the maturity date) and, usually, a series of interest payments during its life.

Bond Basis

An interest calculation using 30 days in each month and 360 days in each year. Many Eurobonds use this as the basis on which interest is calculated. A Bond Basis could also involve a Day Count Fraction which counts the actual number of days in the relevant period and the actual number of days in the year (Actual / Actual). This is the method used by the US Treasury for interest calculations involving US Treasury notes and US Treasury bonds.

Bonus issue

An offer by an issuer to existing shareholders of free additional shares. Companies may use this corporate action as an alternative to paying a dividend amount.

Borrowed Money

The term used in credit derivative swaps to describe debt obligations. Borrowed Money refers to any funds that have been borrowed by the Reference Entity.


Precious metals cast into bars or other non-coin forms.

Business Day Convention

The convention for adjusting any relevant dates which fall on a bad Business Day.


A trading strategy involving three option positions with three separate Strike Prices but the same Expiration Date. The combination is designed to create a potential gain greater than the potential loss, although both up-side and down-side are limited. The number of options in Leg one is double that of the positions taken in Legs one and three, with a Strike Price exactly intermediate between them. Butterfly structures can also be traded in the form of swaps.


Investment managers who buy and sell assets and/or enter into OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transactions with market-making firms (the "Sell-Side").

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Calculation Agent

The party designated as such in relation to an OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transaction. The Calculation Agent is tasked with the making of determinations relating to any adjustments, disruptions, valuations and settlements that occur throughout the life of the transaction. In most cases the Calculation Agent will be one of the parties to the transaction. The Calculation Agent will usually be a professional market maker (for example an investment bank).

Calculation Period

The number of days between Payment Dates, or between the Effective Date and the first Payment Date. A calculation period is typically adjusted for Payment Dates that are bad Business Days but may also be unadjusted.

Calendar spread

See Horizontal spread.

Call option

A financial instrument which gives the holder (buyer) the right, but not the obligation, to buy a specified underlying on or before a specified date or dates. Where physical settlement is specified the option writer (seller) has the obligation to deliver the underlying, at the Strike Price, should the holder exercise the option. Where cash settlement is specified the option writer compensates the buyer for the difference between the underlying price at the time of exercise and the Strike Price. See also Put Option.

Callable interest rate swap

A swap in which the Fixed Rate payer has the right to terminate the swap after a certain time if rates fall. Callable swaps are often executed in conjunction with callable debt issues, where an issuer is more concerned with the cost of debt than the maturity. In some definitions of a callable swap, the fixed-rate receiver has the right to terminate the swap. Also known as a cancellable interest rate swap.


An upper limit placed on the payoff of a trade, limiting the upside to the buyer and thus the downside to the seller.

Capitalisation issue

See Bonus issue.

Carry (Net financing cost)

The difference between the cost of financing the purchase of an asset and the cash yield of the asset. "Positive carry" means that the yield earned is greater than the financing cost; "negative carry" means that the financing cost exceeds the yield earned.

Carry trade

A trade or strategy where the aim is to generate ongoing positive cashflow.


The conversion of a forward contract into a series of shorter-term contracts on maturity.

Cash CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation)

A structured Credit Derivative Transaction where the underlying is typically a portfolio of bonds or loans sold to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which then issues tranched securities offering differing risk-reward characteristics.

Cash Settlement

The discharge of an obligation by payment or receipt of a net cash amount (as opposed to delivery of the physical asset).

CDS Index tranche

A synthetic CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation) based on a credit default swap Index where each tranche (equity, mezzanine, senior and super senior) references a different segment of the loss distribution of the underlying credit default swap index.

CDX indices

A family of credit derivative indices, where the underlying Reference Entities are a defined basket of North American credits. See also ITraxx indices.

Central Clearing Counterparty (CCP)

A clearing organization that interposes itself, through novation or otherwise, between the two original parties to the transaction, becoming the seller to the buyer and the buyer to the seller. CCPs can also arrange or provide for the settlement or netting of obligations resulting from such contracts on a multi-lateral basis. CCPs also often make arrangements that mutualise or transfer among participants in the derivatives clearing organization the credit risk arising from such contracts.

Central settlement (credit derivatives)

A process by which DTCC will settle cash movements and fees on eligible credit derivative trades using Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS Bank). DTCC, via CLS , will net these payments to one net payment per currency per counterparty for a given value date.

Certificate of Deposits (CD)

A savings certificate entitling the bearer to receive interest. A CD bears a maturity date, a specified fixed interest rate and can be issued in any denomination. CDs are generally issued by commercial banks and are insured by the FDIC. The term of a CD generally ranges from one month to five years. A certificate of deposit is a promissory note issued by a bank. It is a time deposit that restricts holders from withdrawing funds on demand. Although it is still possible to withdraw the money, this action will often incur a penalty.
For example, let's say that you purchase a EUR 10,000 CD with an interest rate of 5% compounded annually and a term of one year. At year's end, the CD will have grown to EUR 10,500 (EUR 10.000 * 1.05). CDs of less than EUR 100,000 are called "small CDs"; CDs for more than EUR 100,000 are called "large CDs" or "jumbo CDs". Almost all large CDs, as well as some small CDs, are negotiable.

Chapter 7

A bankruptcy proceeding under US law where a company ceases trading. A trustee is appointed to liquidate the assets of the company in order to meet the claims of creditors.

Chapter 11

A form of US bankruptcy proceeding that involves the reorganisation of the business affairs, assets and debts of a bankrupt company. Otherwise known as bankruptcy protection, Chapter 11 is generally filed by corporations who may be able to restructure their business and emerge later as a going concern.

Chapter 15

A US bankruptcy proceeding catering for cross border bankruptcies.

Cheapest to deliver (CTD)

The least expensive underlying product that can be delivered upon expiry to satisfy the requirements of a derivative contract. Certain derivative products provide contract holders the right to deliver different grades of underlying stocks, bonds, or commodities at specific delivery or expiry points. Because investors will always want to deliver the cheapest available underlying, the price of derivatives will always factor the CTD product.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)

An exchange where commodities and financial futures are traded. CME Clearing is a Central Clearing Counterparty (CCP) offering participants an open-access clearing solution for over-the counter credit default swaps. CME Clearing is part of the CME Group.

Clean price

The price of a coupon bond not including any accrued interest. A clean price is the discounted future cash flows, not including any interest accruing on the next coupon payment date. Immediately following each coupon payment, the clean price will equal the dirty price. Calculated as:

Clean Price


The offsetting and settlement of transactions resulting from trading. The procedure through which the clearing house becomes the buyer to each seller of a futures contract or other derivative, and the seller to each buyer.

Clearing members

Members of an exchange who accept responsibility for all trades cleared through them.


A structured trade where the payoff can be likened to that of a series of consecutive forward starting options, the Strike Price of each being the Settlement Price of the previous. The profit from each period (being the Strike Price differential) can either be paid after each period, held to maturity and then paid or manipulated in a more exotic fashion at maturity.

Close-Out Amount

The payment measure for determining termination payments under the 2002 ISDA Master Agreement. It is designed to provide a flexible means of determining the net termination amount payable upon the occurrence of an Event of Default or a Termination Event. The Determining Party is required to calculate, acting in good faith and using commercially reasonable procedures in order to produce a commercially reasonable result, the loss or cost that would result from entering into transactions that are the economic equivalent of the Terminated Transactions in the then prevailing market conditions.

Close-Out Netting

The process following the occurrence of a Termination Event or an Event of Default under the ISDA Master Agreement resulting in the designation or occurrence of an Early Termination Date and the early termination of all affected Transactions. The net exposure one party has to its counterparty in respect of the Terminated Transactions is determined to arrive at a net settlement amount owing from one party to the other.

Closing Price (or Range)

The price (or price range) recorded that takes place in the final moments of a day's trade that are officially designated as the close.

Closing trade

A trade which is used either to partly offset an open position, or to fully offset it and close it out.


A financial instrument trading strategy involving the purchase of an out-of-the-money put option and the sale of an out-of-the-money call option on the same underlying and at the same maturity. A collar allows for limited upside gains and limited downside losses.


An acceptable asset or cash posted to/by a counterparty used as a credit risk mitigation tool. OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative collateralisation arrangements are typically documented using the English law or New York law Credit Support Annex (CSA) to the ISDA Master Agreement. These annexes detail the economic and operational characteristics of the collateral relationship.

Collateral call

The process by which a demand for margin/collateral is issued to a counterparty following the calculation of the Collateral Requirement. Collateral Requirements are usually calculated on a daily basis.

Collateral dispute

The process by which a counterparty disputes a collateral call.

Collateral in transit (pending move)

Collateral that has been instructed to be transferred but has not yet settled. For the purposes of the margin call calculation, pending collateral moves are considered to have settled.

Collateral requirement

The amount of collateral that needs to be transferred to satisfy the counterparty's requirements.

Collateral substitution

The process where one form of collateral is substituted for another.

Collateralised Debt Obligation (CDO)

A structure used to distribute risk to investors through tranching a portfolio of credits, and issuing notes or swaps of different risk profiles to investors. The risk of the tranche is determined by an attachment point and a detachment point. Riskier tranches will earn the investor a higher premium, to reflect the higher risk. The CDO portfolio can be static or managed, depending on the specific terms of the transaction. CDO notes will typically be issued to the investor by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

Collateralised Loan Obligation (CLO)

The securities issued by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), where the cashflows payable under such securities are generated from the receivables on a portfolio of loans. The securities are typically structured in a variety of tranches.

Commercial Mortgage Backed Security (CMBS)

A type of bond or note issued by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), where the bond or note is backed by an underlying pool of commercial mortgages. The principal and interest generated by the underlying pool of assets effectively services the principal and interest obligations of the bonds or notes.

Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS)

Committee that contributes to strengthening the financial market infrastructure through promoting sound and efficient payment and settlement systems. It also serves as a forum for central banks to monitor and analyse developments in domestic payment, settlement and clearing systems as well as in cross-border and multicurrency settlement schemes.

Commodity derivative

An OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives contract where the value of the contract is derived from an underlying commodity or commodity index. Commodity derivatives can be physically or cash settled. Primary underlying commodities include metals, agricultural goods and energy.

Commodity futures

A contract to purchase a commodity at a set price at an agreed time in the future. Commodity futures are exchange traded.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

An independent agency set up to regulate the US commodity futures and option markets.

Common stock

Shares, also known as ordinary shares, which make up the majority of equity capital of most companies. In holding common stock, investors are conferred an ownership stake in the underlying corporation, entitling them to dividend payouts and voting rights at company meetings. Ownership of common stock provides the potential for capital gains and losses due to a rise or fall in the share price. Shareholders are the last to be paid out in the event of a failure of a company.


A derivative trade which incorporates foreign exchange risk into the payout calculation. Final and initial levels are converted into the settlement currency at the relevant exchange rate on the respective dates. The performance calculated thus incorporates both the exchange rate fluctuation and the performance of the underlying during the period.


The process by which the value of an investment increases by adding the accumulated interest back on the principal amount. In effect, the investment is earning interest on interest as well as principal.

Conditional variance swap

A variance swap which accrues realised volatility only when the previous day's underlying price falls within a pre-specified range. There are three main types of conditional variance swap: up-variance, down-variance and corridor variance swap.

Constant Maturity Swap (CMS)

An interest rate derivative in which one leg periodically fixes against a certain maturity on the swap curve, for example the five year fixed swap rate. The other leg is typically a vanilla floating leg based on LIBOR.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

A body which regulates services and financial products for the public in accordance with federal law. The bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank Act.


A condition in which prices for delivery of a commodity are higher in the succeeding delivery months than in the immediate delivery month. It is also used in the futures market to describe an upward sloping forward curve. The opposite of "backwardation".

Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS)

A service offered by CLS Bank International that reduces settlement risk through a simultaneous, global, multi-currency settlement system.

Contract For Difference (CFD)

An arrangement made in a futures contract whereby differences in settlement are made through cash payments, rather than the delivery of physical goods or securities. This is generally an easier method of settlement because losses and gains are paid in cash. CFDs provide investors with all the benefits and risks of owning a security without actually owning it.


The movement of the cash asset price toward the futures price as the Expiration Date of the futures contract approaches.


The curvature in the bond price and yield relationship.

Copper records

A single-sided non-legal representation of a trade submitted to the DTCC TIW. Copper records were introduced in July 2009 to meet the industry requirement to centrally record non-electronically confirmed transactions in a trade repository.


A statistical tool describing how the distribution of single risks join together to form joint risk distribution. Copulas are used in the valuation of synthetic CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation) tranches and other correlation sensitive products.


In the credit derivative market, a Corporate is a term used to describe a borrower that is a limited company (or similar entity) other than a government, bank or insurer.

Corporate action

An event initiated by a company that has an effect on the shares of that company. Examples of corporate actions include dividends, stock splits, stock consolidations, rights issues, bonus issues, spin-offs and delisting.


A statistical measurement of the extent to which the movements of two variables are related. Correlation is computed into what is known as the correlation coefficient, which ranges between -1 and +1. Perfect positive correlation (a correlation co-efficient of +1) implies that as one security moves, either up or down, the other security will move in lockstep, in the same direction. Alternatively, perfect negative correlation means that if one security moves in either direction the security that is perfectly negatively correlated will move in the opposite direction. If the correlation is 0, the movements of the securities are said to have no correlation; they are completely random/independant.

In real life, perfectly correlated securities are rare, rather you will find securities with some degree of correlation.

Correlation swap

A structure in which one party sells an option on a basket and simultaneously buys individual options on each of the basket constituents. The Buyer of this structure will be in-the-money if the basket components are negatively correlated.

Corridor variance swap

A conditional variance swap which accrues realised volatility only when the previous day's underlying price is between two prespecified levels.

Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF)

A shipping cost that includes the cargo costs, insurance costs and travel / freight costs to a named destination.


See Carry.

Counterparty credit risk

In the context of the trading of OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives, counterparty credit risk is the risk that a counterparty will fail to meet its obligations due to a deterioration in the counterparty's creditworthiness.


The rate of interest paid on a security, expressed as a percentage of the principal value or as a floating rate based on a reference rate such as LIBOR/EURIBOR. The interest is paid to the holder of the security by the issuer (the borrower). The coupon is generally paid annually, semi-annually or quarterly depending on the type of security.

Covered option

A written financial instrument which is matched by an opposing cash or stock position in the underlying asset, or by an opposing financial instrument position of specific characteristics.

Credit Contingent Threshold

A Threshold for collateralisation purposes that is contingent on the credit rating of a party. In the event that a party's credit rating changes, the Threshold either reduces or increases. Minimum Transfer Amounts can also be credit rating contingent.

Credit Default Swap (CDS)

The simplest credit derivative contract, designed to isolate credit risk and allow it to be transferred between parties. In a single name, CDS, the credit risk of a Reference Entity is transferred from protection Buyer to protection Seller. In return, the protection Buyer pays the Seller a Fixed Rate Premium over the life of the CDS transaction, or until a Credit Event occurs, in which case there is a compensatory payment made from the protection Seller to the protection Buyer.

Credit Default Swap on Asset Backed Securities (CDS on ABS)

A credit default swap where the Reference Entity is an ABS or a PAUG (Pay As You Go) swap.

Credit derivative

An Over-The-Counter (OTC) financial derivative instrument that enables the isolation and separate transfer of credit risk. See also Credit Default Swap (CDS).

Credit Derivative Cash Settlement

Settlement of a credit derivative contract after the occurrence of a Credit Event, by means of a payment from protection Seller to protection Buyer. The payment is equal to the difference in the notional of the contract and the Final Price of an agreed Reference Obligation, as determined by cash settlement valuation mechanics or in a Credit Event Auction.

Credit Derivative Physical Settlement

Settlement of a credit derivative contract after the occurrence of a Credit Event by the delivery of a Deliverable Obligation of the Reference Entity from protection Buyer to protection Seller. Under Physical Settlement, the Seller also pays the Buyer the face value of the Deliverable Obligations it receives. Physical Settlement requests can now be submitted as part of the Auction process for predetermined obligations.

Credit Event

An event linked to the deteriorating creditworthiness of an underlying Reference Entity in a credit derivative transaction. The occurrence of a Credit Event triggers full or partial termination of the contract and a compensatory payment from protection Seller to protection Buyer, through either Physical or Cash Settlement. The market standard Credit Events are Bankruptcy, Failure to Pay and Restructuring. However some contracts also include Obligation Acceleration, Obligation Default and Repudiation / Moratorium. The ISDA Determinations Committee now publishes their decisions as to whether a Credit Event has occurred on a particular Reference Entity on eligible Credit Derivative transactions.

Credit Event Auction

An independently administered synthetic auction process on a set of defined Deliverable Obligations that sets a reference Final Price that can be used to facilitate Cash Settlement of all Covered Transactions following a Credit Event.

Credit Event Notice (CEN)

One of the notices required to be delivered to trigger a credit derivative transaction when a Notifying Party believes a Credit Event has occurred. A CEN must contain a description in reasonable detail of the facts relevant to the determination that a Credit Event has occurred. It should be noted that the delivery of the notice is a process to facilitate settlement and that delivery of the notice does not override fact or law. The CEN is typically coupled with a Notice of Publicly Available Information (NOPS).

Credit Linked Note (CLN)

A structured note conferring on the holder an economically equivalent position to holding both a fixed income security and acting as the seller of protection in an embedded credit default swap. The coupon payable on the CLN reflects the credit quality of both the issuer and the underlying Reference Entity (or Entities). CLNs mature below par if any of the underlying Reference Entities suffers a Credit Event during the life of the issuance.

Credit Support Annex (CSA)

An annex to the ISDA Master Agreement which contains the agreed collateral terms between the parties. There is an English law and a New York law version. Relevant terms contained in the CSA include Threshold, Independent Amount and Minimum Transfer Amount.

Cross currency interest rate swap

An interest rate swap where the two legs of the swap are in different currencies and the exchange rate for the final exchange of notional is agreed at the outset of the transaction

Cross option

A financial instrument which pays out in a currency other than the local currency of the underlying asset. The two main types of cross financial instrument are quanto and composite financial instruments.

Currency future

A contract which requires delivery of a specific amount of one foreign currency at a specified future date in return for a specific amount of a second currency.

Currency swap

A foreign exchange agreement between two parties to exchange a given amount of one currency for another currency for spot delivery, and to reverse the transaction for forward delivery at an agreed rate after a specified period of time.


A unique nine digit identification number, allocated to securities settling through the US clearing systems by an organisation named the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures.

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Dark Pool Liquidity

The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is represented by block trades facilitated away from the central exchanges. Also referred to as the "upstairs market", "dark liquidity" or "dark pool." The dark pool gets its name because details of these trades are concealed from the public, clouding the transactions like murky water. Some traders that use a strategy based on liquidity feel that dark pool liquidity should be publicized, in order to make trading more "fair" for all parties involved.

Day Count Fraction

The number of days in the calculation period divided by the number of days in the year as specified in the applicable Day Count Convention. The Day Count Fraction is then used to calculate the payments due.

Day Order

An order that expires automatically at the end of each day's trading session if it has not by that time met its conditions for execution.

Day trading

Establishing and offsetting the same futures market position within one day.

Dealer poll

The process of finding a reference price for an underlying by obtaining quotes from multiple dealers in that underlying.


The failure of a party to perform its obligations under a financial contract.

Default fund

A fund formed by clearing members that is used to deal with the consequences of a clearing member default.


The market standard provisions by reference to which the terms of a derivative transaction are described. The definitions are published and maintained by ISDA.


The process of removing the quotation of the price of a share of a listed company on the Exchange on which it trades, thereby preventing the purchase or sale of that stock through the Exchange. Delisting normally occurs if a company declares bankruptcy, following a merger, acquisition or other Succession Event, or if the company ceases to satisfy the listing rules of the relevant Exchange.

Deliverable Obligation

Debt obligations of a Reference Entity that are eligible to be delivered upon Physical Settlement of a credit derivative contract after the occurrence of a Credit Event.


The physical/cash movement from Seller to Buyer of the underlying asset on which the derivative is based.


The change in the monetary value of a derivative instrument for a one basis point change in the price of that instrument.

Delta neutral

Refers to a position involving options that is designed to have an overall Delta of zero.

Depository receipt

A security that is traded on a local stock exchange representing shares issued by a company listed on a foreign stock exchange. Such securities are often generically called American Depository Receipts (ADRs).


A financial contract that transfers risk from one party to the other. A derivative derives its value from the price or level of an underlying asset or measurement such as a bond, loan, equity, currency, commodity, index, published interest rate or a combination of the above.

Derivatives Clearing Organisation (DCO)

An entity which transfers credit risk among its members. DCOs enable members to substitute, through novation or otherwise, the credit of the DCO for the credit of the two original parties to the transaction. The DCO becomes the Seller to the Buyer and the DCO also becomes the Buyer to the Seller. DCOs can also provide settlement or netting functions on a multilateral basis.

Designated Clearing Member (DCM)

A Clearing house member with a license to clear derivatives.

Designated Maturity

The time period for which the Floating Rate in a derivative transaction is quoted. For example, six month USD LIBOR.

Detachment point

The trigger point above the attachment point, after which losses in the underlying portfolio no longer reduce the notional of a tranche.

Determining party

The party (or parties) determining the Close-out Amount under the ISDA Master Agreement.

Diagonal spread

The purchase of both a long and a short position in two options of the same type (put or call) but with different Strike Prices and Expiration Dates.

Digital option

An option that pays a pre-determined amount if the option is in-the-money and the payoff condition is satisfied. Also known as a binary option.

Digital settlement

See Binary settlement.

Dirty price

The price of a bond inclusive of accrued interest. See also Clean Price .


The price of a bond that is lower than par. The discount equals the difference between the price paid for a security and the security's par value. If a bond with a par value of EUR 1,000 is currently selling for EUR 990 dollars (or 99% of par), it is selling at a discount.

Discount basis

Method of quoting securities where the price is expressed as an annualized discount from maturity value.

Discrete Total Return Swap (TRS)

An equity total return swap on a single stock or a Basket of stocks. Discrete TRSs are confirmed under long form confirmations (without an MCA), under bespoke / in-house MCAs or under the ISDA Equity Finance Swap Annex.

Dispersion trade

A structure in which one party sells an option on an Index and simultaneously buys individual options on each of the Index constituents. The Buyer of this structure will be in-the-money if the Index components are negatively correlated.

Dispute resolution

The process of resolving a collateral dispute. Where parties are unable to agree upon the valuations of certain trades, the dispute resolution provisions outlined in the ISDA CSA provides a mechanism for the parties to resolve their differences.

Disrupted Day

Any Scheduled Trading Day on which the relevant Exchange or Related Exchange fails to open, or upon which a Market Disruption Event occurs

Distributed generation

A system characterised by smaller, geographically dispersed and interconnected generators, rather than one central generator.

Dividend amount

"Money For Nothing" is not only the title of a song by Dire Straits in the '80s, but also the feeling many investors get when they receive a dividend. All you have to do is buy shares in the right company and you'll receive some of its earnings.

Dividends are one way in which companies "share the wealth" generated by running the business. They are usually a cash payment, often drawn from earnings, paid to the investors in a company - the shareholders. These are paid on an annual or, more commonly, a quarterly basis. The companies that pay them are usually more stable and established, not "fast growers". Those still in the rapid growth phase of their life cycle tend to retain all the earnings and reinvest them into the business.

When a dividend is paid, several things can happen. The first of these is what happens to the price of the security and various items tied to it. On the ex-dividend date, the stock price is adjusted downward by the amount of the dividend by the exchange on which the stock trades. For most dividends this is usually not observed amidst the up and down movement of a normal day's trading. However, this becomes easily apparent on the ex-dividend dates for larger dividends, such as the $3 payment made by Microsoft in the fall of 2004, which caused shares to fall from $29.97 to $27.34.

The reason for the adjustment is that the amount paid out in dividends no longer belongs to the company and this is reflected by a reduction in the company's market cap. Instead, it belongs to the individual shareholders. For those purchasing shares after the ex-dividend date, they no longer have a claim to the dividend, so the exchange adjusts the price downward to reflect this fact.

Stock option prices are usually not adjusted for ordinary cash dividends unless the dividend amount is 10% or more of the underlying value of the stock.

Dividend payments, whether they are cash or stock, reduce retained earnings by the total amount of the dividend. In the case of a cash dividend, the money is transferred to a liability account called dividends payable. This liability is removed when the company actually makes the payment on the dividend payment date, usually a few weeks after the ex-dividend date. For instance, if the dividend was $0.025 per share and there are 100 million shares outstanding, retained earnings will be reduced by $2.5 million and that money eventually makes its way to the shareholders.

In the case of a stock dividend, though, the amount removed from retained earnings is added to the equity account, common stock at par value, and brand new shares are issued to the shareholders. The value of each share's par value does not change. For instance, for a 10% stock dividend where the par value is 25 cents per share and there are 100 million shares outstanding, retained earnings is reduced by $2.5 million, common stock at par value is increased by that amount and the total number of shares outstanding increases to 110 million.

This is different from a stock split, although it looks the same from a shareholder's point of view. In a stock split, all the old shares are called in, new shares are issued, and the par value is reduced by the inverse of the ratio of the split. For instance, if instead of a 10% stock dividend, the above company declares an 11-to-10 stock split, the 100 million shares are called in and 110 million new shares are issued, each with a par value of $0.22727. This leaves the common stock at par value account's total unchanged. The retained earnings account is not reduced either.

Many investors see dividends as "money for nothing", but the implications surrounding paying and receiving dividends can mean a lot of work for both the company and the investor. If you reinvest your dividends through a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) or equivalent, the paperwork and tracking of basis can become quite tedious. There is no such thing as a free lunch. As with every other aspect of investing, accurate records are important and it would probably behoove you to use a spreadsheet or similar tool to track such details.

More information can be found in various publications available from the IRS (US Tax Office), Publication 550.

Dividend swap

A cash-settled forward transaction where the payout is determined by multiplying a preagreed number of shares by the difference between the dividend benchmark, agreed at the time of trade execution, and the actual dividend amount per share paid by the issuer.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act)

Law designed primarily to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end the mindset that certain institutions are "too big to fail", to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts and to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices.

Down variance

A conditional variance swap which accrues realised volatility only when the previous day's underlying price is between two prespecified levels.


A platform run by MarkitSERVTM which matches OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative confirmations including credit, equity and interest rate products.

DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation)

Established in 1999 and owned by its principal users the DTCC's function is to streamline clearing and depository transactions in attempts to reduce cost and increase capital efficiency.

DTCC, through its subsidiaries, provides clearing, settlement and information services for equities, corporate and municipal bonds, government and mortgage-backed securities, money market instruments and over-the-counter derivatives. In addition, DTCC is a leading processor of mutual funds and insurance transactions, linking funds and carriers with their distribution networks.

DTCC's depository provides custody and asset servicing for more than 3.6 million securities issues from the United States and 121 other countries and territories, valued at $36.5 trillion. In 2010, DTCC settled nearly $1.66 quadrillion in securities transactions.

DTCC operates through 10 subsidiaries - each of which serves a specific segment and risk profile within the securities industry:

DTCC's joint venture company with Thomson Reuters, Omgeo, has over 6,000 customers in 45 countries and plays a critical role in institutional post-trade processing, acting as a central information management and processing hub for brokers, investment managers and custodian banks.

DTCC's joint company with Markit, MarkitSERV, combines the DTCC Deriv/SERV and Markit Wire trade confirmation platforms to cover all major asset classes including credit, interest rate, equity and commodity derivatives.

Pending regulatory approval, DTCC's joint venture company with NYSE Euronext, NYPC, will combine the industry-leading capabilities of NYSE Euronext's U.S. futures exchange (NYSE Liffe U.S.) and DTCC's Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (FICC) to offer innovative risk management, clearing and settlement efficiencies for U.S. fixed income securities and derivatives.


A measure of the effective maturity of a bond. Duration is an approximation for the price change of a bond for a given change in the interest rate, and is used as a measure of sensitivity of bond prices to market changes. Duration is measured in units of time and includes the effects of time until maturity, cashflows and the yield to maturity.

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Early Exercise

The exercise of an option contract before its expiration date.

Effective Date

The date on which obligations under a derivative transaction begin to accrue or take effect.


The process by which derivative post-trade processes are automated. Electronification is often used specifically to refer to the process of making transactions electronically eligible for matching.

Eligible Credit Support

Collateral that is acceptable under the terms of a Credit Support Annex (CSA).

Eligible Currency

Acceptable currency for cash collateral under the terms of a Credit Support Annex (CSA).

Elliot wave

A theory named after Ralph Elliot, who contended that the stock market tends to move in discernible and predictable patterns reflecting the basic harmony of nature.

Equity / First loss tranche

The first loss and riskiest tranche in a CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation) where there is no subordination. For example, a tranche with a 0% --- 4% attachment point / detachment point.

Equity / stock option

An option where the underlying is an individual equity or share. On exercise of the option the specified amount of shares, or the difference between the market value of the shares and the Strike Price, is exchanged between the option holder and the option grantor.

Equity derivative

An OTC (Over-The-Counter) contract, the value of which is derived from one or more equity linked underlyings, for example shares or an equity Index.

Equity Index swap

An obligation between two parties to exchange cashflows based on the percentage change in one or more stock Indices for a specific period with previously agreed reset dates. The swap is cash settled and based on notional principal amounts.

Equity swap

A derivative contract where payments are linked to the change in value of an underlying equity, Basket of equities, Index or Basket of Indices. The Equity Amount Payer pays to the Equity Amount Receiver any increase in the value of the underlying plus any dividends received (if total return). The Equity Amount Receiver pays the Equity Amount Payer any decrease in the value of the underlying plus funding costs.


A European Central Clearing Counterparty (CCP) that offers clearing services for the exchange-traded derivatives market, bond and repo markets. Eurex also offers clearing for the following exchanges: Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Irish Stock Exchange and European Energy Exchange.


Euro Inter-Bank Offered Rate: the rate at which European interbank deposits are offered by prime banks to each other in the European Monetary Union.


Usually, a eurobond is issued by an international syndicate and categorized according to the currency in which it is denominated. A eurodollar bond that is denominated in U.S. dollars and issued in Japan by an Australian company would be an example of a eurobond. The Australian company in this example could issue the eurodollar bond in any country other than the U.S.

Eurobonds are attractive financing tools as they give issuers the flexibility to choose the country in which to offer their bond according to the country's regulatory constraints. They may also denominate their eurobond in their preferred currency. Eurobonds are attractive to investors as they have small par values and high liquidity.

European Market Infrastructure Regulation

A proposed regulation of the European parliament and of the council on Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories. The regulation introduces requirements for OTC derivatives transactions which meet the eligibility criteria to be cleared through central clearing counterparties (CCP), and all OTC derivatives transactions to be reported to trade repositories.

European option

An option that can only be exercised by the Buyer on the Expiration Date.

Event Determination Date (EDD)

The date on which the Credit Event Notice and Notice of Publicly Available Information are delivered by the Notifying Party in order to trigger the settlement of a credit derivative transaction.

Event of Default

A set of prescribed events in the ISDA Master Agreement, the occurrence of which will give the Non-Defaulting Party the right to terminate all outstanding Transactions under the ISDA Master Agreement by giving notice to the Defaulting Party (or, in respect of certain events contained in the Bankruptcy Event of Default where Automatic Early Termination (AET) is elected, termination will be automatic without any requirement for the giving of notice).


A long-term mountain range option where the final payout is based on the worst-performing underlying in the Basket.


A central marketplace with established rules and regulations where buyers and sellers meet to trade securities or futures and options contracts. Exchanges include designated contract markets and derivatives transaction execution facilities.

Exchange Business Day

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions essentially meaning any Scheduled Trading Day on which each Exchange and Related Exchange in respect of a trade are open for trading for their respective regular trading sessions.

Exchange Cleared Derivatives (ECD)

Derivative products traded bilaterally and then transferred (or novated) to an exchange. The derivatives then become cleared centrally (CCP) by the exchange.

Exchange Disruption

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions essentially meaning any event (other than an Early Closure) that disrupts or impairs the ability of market participants to effect transactions in, or to obtain market values for the Share (or if an Index transaction, 20 percent or more of the securities comprising the Index) or listed options or futures contracts on the underlying.

Exchange traded Fund (ETF)

A financial instrument listed and traded on a stock exchange that holds underlying assets such as shares. Often an ETF will track an equity Index.

Exchange traded option

A financial instrument traded and cleared on an organised securities or derivatives exchange. Such options are usually, but not always, standardised by strike, maturity and underlying.

Ex-dividend date

The last day on which a party can purchase shares and receive the next upcoming dividend from the share issuer. The share price will fall by the amount of the dividend after which the shares are known as ex-dividend. See also Dividend Amount.

Executing broker

The broker or dealer that finalises and processes an order on behalf of a client. Orders sent to executing brokers are assessed for appropriateness, before execution. If the order is rejected, the customer is notified and the trade is not completed.

Execution only (give-up agreement)

1) OTC: A tri-party agreement that is signed by the executing broker, the clearing broker and the client. This agreement sets out the terms by which the clearing broker will accept business on behalf of the client.

2) Clearing: A tri-party agreement that is signed by the Executing Broker, the DCM (Designated Clearing Member) and the client. This agreement sets out the terms by which the DCM will accept business on behalf of the client.


The process by which the holder of an option (the option buyer) may take up the right to buy or sell the relevant underlying.

Exercise Day

A day on which the holder of an option (the option buyer) may exercise the right to buy or sell the underlying.

Exercise Price

The price at which a holder of an option (the option buyer) has the right to buy (call) or sell (put) the underlying.

Exotic option

A non-vanilla option.

Expected Recovery Rate (ERR)

The recovery rate expected by the market at the point of an entity going into insolvency proceedings. In efficient markets, defaulted bonds will theoretically trade at the ERR.

Expiration Date

The last date on which an option can be exercised. After this date the option is deemed to lapse or be abandoned.


A shipping contract delivery provision whereby responsibility for any risks associated with the cargo resides with the shipper until the ship has arrived at the designated port and the cargo is available for delivery.

Extendible swap

A financial instrument with an embedded option constructed on a similar principle to a double-up swap. An extendible swap allows the provider to extend the swap, at the end of the agreed period, for a further predetermined period.

Extraordinary Dividend

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions which defines what constitutes an Extraordinary Dividend is at the determination of the Calculation Agent, unless otherwise specified in the confirmation. Essentially they are unexpected dividends paid outside of the normal practice of an issuer.

Extraordinary Event

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions being an event that affects the underlying Shares or Index. For example a Merger Event, Tender Offer, Nationalisation or Index Disruption Event.

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Failure to Pay (FTP)

A Credit Event that is triggered if a Reference Entity fails to make interest or principal payments due under the terms of one or more of its Obligations. FTP is usually subject to a minimum payment requirement and a Grace Period. See also Credit Event.

Federal funds rate

The interest rate at which US private depository institutions lend cash balances (federal funds) to other similar institutions. See Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


The execution of an order.

Financial Products Mark-up Language (FpML)

A standardised language designed for sharing information on, and dealing in, swaps, derivatives and structured products across software and hardware systems.

Financial Stability Board (FSB)

An international body working with national authorities responsible for financial stability, international financial institutions, groupings of regulators and supervisors, and committees of experts to develop and promote the implementation of effective regulatory, supervisory and other financial sector policies.

FinanciaL StabiLity Oversight CounciL (FSOC)

A council to promote market discipline which aims to identify and respond to threats to its stability. Created by the Dodd-Frank Act, the FSOC monitors the financial system of the United States.

First Loss basket

A credit derivative transaction based on a basket of Reference Entities. Following a Credit Event in respect of one of the Reference Entities in the basket, a portion of the transaction terminates and settles as if it were a single name credit default swap. First loss baskets were developed in response to Nth to default protection Sellers who preferred a contract to continue on a reduced notional following a Credit Event, with the continuation of the payment of the premium, albeit on a reduced notional, mitigating some of the losses.

First Method

A payment method applicable following the occurrence or designation of an Early Termination Date under the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement. First Method stipulates that the net termination payment will only be required to be made if the payment is owed from the Defaulting Party to the Non-Defaulting Party. Financial institutions subject to regulatory capital requirements are no longer permitted to report exposures on a net basis for regulatory capital purposes using First Method. As a result, it is rarely used and the option to elect this payment method was excluded from the 2002 ISDA Master Agreement.

First Notice Day

The first day on which notices of intent to deliver physical commodities against futures market positions can be received. First notice day may vary with each commodity and exchange.

First to default basket

A credit derivative transaction where the payoff is based on the first asset to default in a basket of underlying Reference Entities. Once a default occurs the transaction terminates and is settled.

Fixed note

A bond which pays a fixed rate of interest.

Fixed Rate

A rate which does not vary during the life of a transaction.

Fixed Rate Payer

The buyer of protection under a credit derivative transaction, or the payer of the Fixed Rate leg of an interest rate swap.

Flip flop

An interest rate swap that allows the buyer to switch between receiving a Fixed Rate and a Floating Rate of interest on defined dates during the life of the transaction.

Floating Rate

A rate which is reset at predetermined intervals by reference to a market reference rate (such as LIBOR, EURIBOR,...).

Floating Rate Note (FRN)

A bond which pays a variable rate of interest.

Floating Rate Payer

The seller of protection under a credit derivative contract, or the payer of the Floating Rate leg of an interest rate swap (IRS).


A lower limit placed on the payoff of a trade, guaranteeing a minimum payoff to the buyer.

Flow trading

Trading activity relating to the execution of customer orders by a market maker.

FOB (Free-On-Board)

A trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods on board a vessel designated by the buyer. The seller fulfills its obligations to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship's rail.

When used in trade terms, the word "free" means the seller has an obligation to deliver goods to a named place for transfer to a carrier.

Contracts involving international transportation often contain abbreviated trade terms that describe matters such as the time and place of delivery and payment, when the risk of loss shifts from the seller to the buyer, as well as who pays the costs of freight and insurance. The most commonly known trade terms are INCO Terms, which are published by the International Chamber of Commerce. These are often identical in form to domestic terms, such as the American Uniform Commercial Code, but have different meanings. As a result, parties to a contract must expressly indicate the governing law of their terms. It's important to realize that because this is a legal term, its exact definition is much more complicated and differs by country. It is suggested that you contact an international trade lawyer before using any trade term.

Following Business Day Convention

A Business Day Convention where payment days that fall on a bad Business Day roll forward to the next good Business Day, regardless of whether or not it falls in the next calendar month.

Force majeure

A contractual provision that deals with the consequences of an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a political crisis, war, strike, riot or "act of God", preventing one or both parties from fulfilling its obligations under the contract.


A contract involving the sale by one party and the purchase by another party of a predefined amount of an underlying, at a predefined price and at predefined date in the future.

Forward price curve

A graph of the future value of a commodity or financial instrument over time.

Forward Rate Agreement (FRA)

An OTC (Over-The-Counter) contract that requires one party to pay the difference between the agreed forward rate and the relevant rate of interest on the specified fixing date. A FRA is similar to a futures contract and is used to hedge future interest rate exposure, but the tenor of the contract is bespoke to that specific contract. On a futures contract the tenor is fixed by the exchange on which the futures contact is traded.

Forward start option

An option with a forward start date.

Full clearing member

A firm that is able to clear eligible products as specified by the clearing house. Full clearing members are obliged to adhere to the clearing house rules and contribute to collateral reserves of the clearing organisation and are responsible for the timely fulfilment of all payment and delivery obligations resulting from their own transactions and those executed by it on behalf of non-members.

Full termination

The process whereby the entire transaction is terminated as opposed to simply partially terminating the transaction.

Fully transferable

An obligation that is fully transferable is freely tradable with no restrictions. For example, no consent of the borrower is required to transfer ownership of the asset.

Fund administrator

Name given to the set of activities that are carried out in support of the actual process of running a collective investment scheme, whether the scheme is a traditional mutual fund, a hedge fund, Pension fund, unit trust or something in between.

Managers of funds often choose to outsource some or all of these activities to external specialist companies; these companies are often known as fund administrators.

These administrative activities would include:

  • Calculation of the Net asset value (NAV) including the calculation of the funds income and expense accruals
  • Preparation of semi-annual and annual reports
  • Maintenance of the fund's financial books and records
  • Payment of the funds expenses
  • Reconcile Daily and Monthly broker statement
  • Settlement of daily Trades, assuring that the proper dividend and interest are received, updating price of securities of client
  • Pricing of Securities
  • Calculation and payment of funds dividends and distributions (if required)
  • Supervision of the orderly liquidation and dissolution of the fund (if required)

This list is not exhaustive and particularly where a fund manager has chosen to outsource some of these tasks to an external company some or all of the administrative activities of the fund may or may not be described as "fund administration". Specific activities that definitely do not fall under the name of fund administration are those directly associated with the business of running a collective investment scheme:

  • Gathering assets (i.e. seeking additional investors into the fund)
  • Asset management (i.e. deciding how to spend the money that investors have put into the fund in order to obtain the best return for that investment)

In the view of some fund managers any task necessary for maintenance of the fund that does not fall into one of the two categories above could be classed as fund administration and could potentially be a candidate for outsourcing.

Fund of funds (FoF)

A managed investment fund where the pool of investments are "other" investment funds.

Funded option

An exotic option where the holder pays interest over the life of the transaction instead of an upfront premium amount.


An exchange traded agreement to take or make delivery of an asset at a specific time in the future for a specific price agreed today.

Futures and Options Association (FOA)

A trade association dedicated to promoting the smooth functioning of exchange traded derivative contracts through the publication of standardised documentation and guidelines.

Futures Commission Merchant (FCM)

An organization that solicits or accepts orders for the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery. These transactions will be subject to the rules of exchanges that will accept payment from, or extend credit to, those whose orders are accepted. FCMs can solicit business directly, but most act as exchange liaisons for introducing brokers. An FCM can be either a clearing member of an exchange (a "clearing FCM") or a non-clearing member of an exchange (a "non-clearing FCM").

Futures price valuation

A method of valuation for equity Index derivatives, the Settlement Price being sourced from the exercise price of a listed contract on the Index rather than the level of the Index at such time.

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A term in option theory measuring the rate of change of delta. Gamma is used as a measure of how quickly the outright exposure to the underlying can change. In correlation transactions, gamma can be classified as single name gamma or cross gamma: single name gamma is an exposure to a single name in the basket moving; cross gamma is an exposure to all names in the basket moving simultaneously.

Gold fixing (Gold Fix)

The setting of the gold price at 10:30 AM (first fixing) and 3:00 PM (second fixing) in London by five representatives of the London Gold Market.

Grace Period

The period in which a party potentially in default is permitted to make good a failure or breach. If the specified grace period elapses and the failure or breach still continues, an Event of Default will have occurred. In credit derivatives, the Grace Period is the period after which a potential Failure to Pay becomes an actual Failure to Pay and hence a Credit Event.

Grace Period Extension Applicable

If Grace Period Extension is applicable, protection is deemed to be valid under a credit derivative contract if a potential Failure to Pay occurs before the Scheduled Termination Date, but the actual Failure to Pay occurs afterwards (i.e. after the Grace Period has expired).

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

An act which opened up the markets in the United States by allowing certain types of firm to merge and consolidate, such as commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms and insurance companies.


The maker, writer or issuer of an option contract who takes on obligations to buy/sell the underlying, in return for receipt of the premium paid for the option.


A measure of the sensitivity of an option's value to changes in the parameters used to value it. Greek letters are used to denote these measures including delta, gamma, rho, theta and vega.


A derivative or asset position expressed without netting of bought and sold trades.


A person or entity who guarantees to meet certain specified payment obligations of another party if such other party should default on the relevant obligation.

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See Valuation Percentage.

Hard Credit Event

A Credit Event in which all debt obligations of the Reference Entity have become due and payable immediately, resulting in them all trading at the same value, which, in efficient markets, would be equal to the expected recovery rate.


The process of incorporating a commitment to utilising an auction-based Cash Settlement methodology for all future Credit Events into ISDA Credit Derivative documentation. Hardwiring is achieved by the publication by ISDA in April 2009 of a "Big Bang" protocol and an Auction Supplement to the 2003 ISDA Credit Derivatives Definitions. See also Big Bang Protocol and Small Bang Protocol.

Hedge fund

A buy-side private investment fund that employs diverse trading strategies. Strategies may include Global Macro-, Directional-, Event-Driven-, or Arbitrage-, strategies or other forms of leverage strategies.

The elements contributing to a hedge fund strategy include: the hedge fund's approach to the market; the particular instrument used; the market sector the fund specializes in (e.g. Biotechnology, Healthcare, IT,...); the method used to select investments; and the amount of diversification within the fund.

There are a variety of market approaches to different asset classes, including equity, fixed income, commodity and currency. Instruments used include: equities, fixed income, futures, options and swaps.

Strategies can be divided into those in which investments can be selected by managers, known as "discretionary/qualitative", or those in which investments are selected using a computerized system, known as "systematic/quantitative".

The amount of diversification within the fund can vary; funds may be multi-strategy, multi-fund, multi-market, multi-manager or a combination.


A trading strategy which is designed to reduce or mitigate risk. A second transaction is entered to offset the risk of the first.


A mountain range option where the payout is based on the average performance of the best-performing component in the Basket on each calculation date. The number of components in the Basket reduces over the life of the option as the best performer on each calculation date is removed for future calculations, so that on the last calculation date there is only one underlying asset in the Basket.

Historical simulation

A method of calculating Value-at-Risk (VaR) that uses historical data to assess the impact of market moves on a portfolio. A current portfolio is subjected to historically recorded market movements; this is used to generate a distribution of returns on the portfolio. This distribution can then be used to calculate the maximum loss with a given likelihood, that is, the VaR. Because historical simulation uses real data, it can capture unexpected events and correlations that would not necessarily be predicted by a theoretical model.

Historical volatility

The annualised standard deviation of percentage changes in prices over a specific period. An indication of past market volatility.

Horizontal spread

An option trading strategy consisting of the simultaneous purchase and sale of two options of the same type and Strike Price but with different Expiration Dates. Also known as a Calendar spread.

Hybrid Basket

A Basket containing both stocks and indices or underlyings from a combination of asset classes (such as a foreign exchange rate or a commodity).

Hybrid instruments

Financial instruments that possess, in varying combinations, characteristics of forward contracts, futures contracts, options contracts, debt instruments, bank depository interest and other interests. Certain hybrid instruments are exempt from Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulation.

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INCO Terms

International Commercial Terms. A series of international sales terms, published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and widely used in international commercial transactions.

Independent Amount / Initial Margin

An additional collateral amount that is requested over and above the mark-to-market of the trade or portfolio of trades being collateralised. This covers any fluctuations in the value of the collateralised trade or trade portfolio which may occur between review periods.

Independent clearing organisation

A clearing organisation which is capitalised without recourse to the members of the exchange. The organisation will guarantee to each member the performance of the contracts by the contract registered in the organisations name, thus removing counterparty risk against the other clearing members.


A synthetic portfolio of underlying assets calculated and published by a designated Index sponsor and used to give a indication of market trends and to measure the performance of the specific market or sector to which the Index relates.

Index Adjustment Events

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions meaning a situation where the underlying of an Index trade is permanently cancelled and no successor is found. This event constitutes an Index cancellation and the trade will be adjusted by the Calculation Agent in accordance with the fallback provision selected in the confirmation. Additionally, if the Index (or the method of determining the Index level) is materially amended (an Index modification), or the Index sponsor fails to calculate or publish a level on a day (an Index disruption), the trade will similarly be adjusted or cancelled by the Calculation Agent.

Index arbitrage

The simultaneous purchase (sale) of stock index futures and the sale (purchase) of some or all of the component stocks that make up the particular stock index to profit from sufficiently large inter-market spreads between the futures contract and the index itself. See also Arbitrage.

Index sponsor

The company or organisation which calculates and publishes an Index. Examples include Standard & Poor's, Dow Jones and FTSE International.

Inflation Linked derivatives

Derivative contracts where the underlying is a price index or one of a series of government issued inflation protected securities such as treasury inflation protected securities (TIPS) issued by the U.S. Treasury.

Inflation-Indexed debt instrument

Generally a debt instrument (such as a bond or note) on which the payments are adjusted for inflation and deflation. In a typical inflation-indexed instrument, the principal amount is adjusted monthly based on an inflation index such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Integrated hedge

A hedge combining more than one distinct price risk. For example, crude oil is usually priced in US dollars. A producer of crude oil whose home currency is the pound sterling would be exposed to both US dollar currency risk and crude oil price risk. A possible integrated hedge would be a quanto product, which would hedge the price of crude oil in pounds sterling.

Inter Continental Exchange (Europe) (ICE CLear Europe)

ICE's London-based Clearing House which provides clearing services for a wide range of exchange-traded, futures contracts. ICE Clear Europe offers clearing services for Over-The-Counter (OTC) energy products and credit default swaps.

Inter Continental Exchange (US) (ICE Clear Credit)

ICE Clear Credit LLC is a central clearing facility for North American credit default swaps (CDS). Membership is open to institutions that meet objective financial and eligibility standards. The clearing house is subject to direct regulation and supervision by the U.S. Commodities Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Subject to compliance with certain conditions, ICE Clear Credit operates under an exemption from the U.S. Treasury Department.ICE Clear Credit LLC was previously known as ICE Trust U.S. LLC and was supervised by the Federal Reserve and the New York State Banking Department. On July 16, 2011, the effective date of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, ICE Trust transitioned to a CFTC-regulated Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO) and a SEC-regulated Securities Clearing Agency (SCA) and began operating under the name ICE Clear Credit LLC. It is currently the dominant clearer for Over-The-Counter (OTC) credit default swaps.

Interest rate cap

An option product where the holder (Buyer) is guaranteed a maximum borrowing cost over a specified term.

Interest rate collar

An option product where the holder (Buyer) is guaranteed a maximum and minimum borrowing cost over a specified term.

Interest rate derivative

A derivative product that involves the exchange of cashflows calculated on a notional amount and determined by reference to specified interest rates.

Interest rate floor

An option product where the holder (Buyer) is guaranteed a minimum yield on a deposit over a specified term.

Interest rate futures

A futures contract for securities and deposits whose prices are determined by reference to interest rates.

Interest rate straddle

An interest rate transaction where the Buyer pays a premium to the Seller to buy a cap and a floor with identical details including the cap and floor rates. At set intervals the Buyer receives from the Seller the difference between the pre-agreed rate and the current Floating Rate. The Buyer of a straddle believes that the market is very volatile and is unsure as to the direction in which the rates will move.

Interest Rate Swap (IRS)

An agreement to exchange cashflows determined by reference to interest rates based on a specified notional amount, typically a Fixed Rate to a Floating Rate (or vice versa) or from one Floating Rate to another. IRSs are commonly used for both hedging and speculating. Find out more »

Interest rate swaption

An option to enter into a predetermined interest rate swap, where the holder of the option has the right, but not the obligation, to enter into an interest rate swap on a specified future date and at a specified future rate and term. Typically, interest rate swaptions can be European, American or Bermudan in style.


A process whereby a third party facilitates an OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transaction between other counterparties who would not otherwise trade with each another. The intermediating party is usually of very high credit quality.

International Derivatives Clearing Group (IDCG)

A central clearing house which clears and settles interest rate swaps and other fixed income derivatives contracts.

InternationaL Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO)

A global body consisting of the main financial regulators for securities. IOSCO supports international cooperation to promote cross-border standards to its members.

Interpolation (Linear interpolation)

A method of estimating an unknown price or yield of a security. This is achieved by using other related known values that are located above and below the unknown value.


A position which has intrinsic value, for example a portfolio acquired at a rate which is more advantageous than current market rates.

Intrinsic value

1) A measure of the value of an option or a warrant if immediately exercised, being the extent to which it is in-the-money.

2) The amount by which the current price for the underlying commodity or futures contract is above the strike price of a call option or below the strike price of a put option for the commodity or futures contract.

Inverse floater

An interest rate swap where the Floating Rate has a coupon which rises when the underlying Floating Rate falls. Thus when the market Floating Rate falls, the payout increases.

ISDA 2009 Collateral Dispute Resolution Procedure

A standard industry approach for dealing with disputed OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative collateral calls that achieves timely identification of the root causes of disputed collateral calls, ensures the prompt movement of undisputed amounts and provides the parties with a flexible range of methods to narrow and / or resolve their dispute to be consistent with their risk tolerance.

ISDA Determinations Committees (ISDA DCs)

Regional committees established by ISDA for the purposes of making determinations on credit derivative transactions that have incorporated, or are deemed to incorporate, the Big Bang Protocol or Small Bang Protocol. The ISDA DC will mainly determine: whether a Succession Event has occurred and identify the Successor entity / entities; and whether a Credit Event has occurred, if an auction is to be held and whether a particular obligation of the defaulted Reference Entity is deliverable.

ISDA Master Agreement

A market standard agreement, published by ISDA, to facilitate the trading of OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives between two parties. There are two commonly used versions of the ISDA Master Agreement - the 1992 and 2002 version - each is supplemented by a Schedule which contains bespoke credit, legal and operational terms negotiated between the parties. The ISDA Master Agreement, including the Schedule and the individual Transactions executed pursuant to the terms of the ISDA Master Agreement (as evidenced by trade confirmations), are deemed to form part of the same indivisible contract (referred to as the “single agreement” concept).

ISDA Physical Settlement Matrix

Parties to a physically settled credit default swap may incorporate the terms contained in a matrix published by ISDA which sets out the standard market terms for different transaction types (by reference to the Reference Entity type).

ISDA Uniform Settlement Agreement (USA)

An agreement published by ISDA following a Credit Event that allows adhering parties to agree that a Credit Event Notice and a Notice of Publicly Available Information are deemed to have been delivered in a correct and timely fashion on the notice date without requiring the actual delivery of such notices. The decision to sign up to the USA is separate and independent of the decision to sign up to any associated Protocol.

ISDA (International Swaps and Derivatives Association)

The global trade association which represents participants in the OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives industry.

ISIN (International Securities Identification Number)

A twelve digit alpha-numeric code assigned to securities under the system developed by the International Organisation for Standardization to create one unique indentifying number for all debt and equity securities.

Issue price

The percentage of the principal value at which the price of a new issue of securities is fixed. A security with an issue price above 100% will be issued at a premium and a security with an issue price below 100% will be issued at a discount.


The borrower in a bond issue. For example a government, government agency, a bank or a corporate.

ITraxx indices

A family of credit derivative indices, where the underlying Reference Entities are a defined basket of European credits. The indices are highly liquid and traded using ISDA standard documentation, to standard maturities. They are used by both buy-side and sell-side institutions for creating credit exposure as well as hedging. The underlying Reference Entities within each Index are reassessed every six months, following dealer liquidity polls.

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Joint-stock company

An organization that falls between the definitions of a partnership and corporation. This type of company issues stock and allows for secondary market trading; however, stockholders are liable for company debts. This is a type of company that has access to the liquidity and financial reserves of stock markets, but also has the restrictions of a partnership.

Joint Venture (JV)

The cooperation of two or more individuals or businesses in which each agrees to share profit, loss and control in a specific enterprise.

Forming a joint venture is a good way for companies to partner without having to merge. JVs are typically taxed as a partnership.

Judgmental Credit Analysis

A method of approving or denying credit based on the lender's judgment rather than on a particular credit scoring model. Judgmental credit analysis entails evaluating the borrowers application and using prior experience dealing with similar applicants to determine credit approval. This process avoids using any algorithms or empirical process to determine approvals.

Often times, small banks will use judgmental credit analysis due to the fact that it would not be economical for them to develop a credit scoring system or hire a third party to establish credit scores. On the other hand, large banks often have more automated credit processes, due to the volume of applications they receive.

Junk Bond

A bond rated 'BB' or lower because of its high default risk. Also known as a "high-yield bond" or "speculative bond". These are usually purchased for speculative purposes. Junk bonds typically offer interest rates three to four percentage points higher than safer government issues.

Jurisdiction Risk

The risk that arises when operating in a foreign jurisdiction. In recent times, jurisdiction risk has focused on banks and financial institutions who are exposed to the risk that some of the countries where they operate may be high-risk areas for money laundering and terrorism financing. Jurisdiction risk/Legal risk can also refer to when laws unexpectedly change in a jurisdiction an investor has exposure to.

Jurisdiction risk is generally believed to be higher in countries that have either been designated as non-cooperative by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), or have been identified by the U.S. Treasury as requiring special measures due to concerns about money laundering or corruption. Because of the punitive fines and penalties that can be levied against a financial institution that is involved (even inadvertently) in money laundering or financing terrorism, most organizations have specific processes to assess and mitigate jurisdiction risk.

Just in Time (JIT)

An inventory strategy companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process, thereby reducing inventory costs. This method requires that producers are able to accurately forecast demand.

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Knock-in Event

An addition of a knock-in event to an option will result in the option not being active unless a certain price (the knock-in price) is reached in respect of the underlying. This will have the effect of reducing the option premium. See also Barrier option.

Knock-out Event

An addition of a knock-in event to an option will result in the option being terminated if a certain price (knock-out price) is reached in respect of the underlying. This will have the effect of reducing the option premium. See also Barrier option.

KYC documentation

The documentation required to be produced by a trading counterparty to ensure that "Know Your Client" (KYC) or Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements are adequately fulfilled. In order to comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements, a firm will typically have to obtain and review the counterparty's constitutional documents, evidence of due incorporation and good standing, financial statements, details of significant shareholders and proof of identity of the directors.

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Ladder option

An option that locks in gains once the underlying asset reaches certain price levels.

LCH.Clearnet Ltd

A Recognised Clearing House (RCH) that provides clearing services for Over-The-Counter (OTC) trades and those dealt on a number of international exchanges. LCH caters for a broad range of asset classes including: securities, exchange traded derivatives, commodities, energy, freight, interest rate swaps, credit default swaps and euro and sterling denominated bonds and repos. The LCH.Clearnet group is majority owned by its clients, and minority-owned by exchanges.

LCH.Clearnet SA

A Société Anonyme established as a credit institution under French law. LCH.Clearnet SA is currently responsible for clearing a range of products on the NYSE Euronext markets and also clears trades for the fixed income and credit default swap markets and the following exchanges: Equiduct, Bluenext, Bourse de Luxembourg, MTS Italy and SecFinex.


The magnification of gains and losses by only paying for part of the underlying value of the instrument or asset.

Leveraged loan CDS

A credit default swap where the underlying reference credit is a leveraged loan.


The London Interbank Offered Rate is the rate used when one bank borrows from another bank. It is the benchmark used to price many capital market and derivative transactions.

Lifecycle events

Post-trade events such as portfolio compression, Credit Events, Succession Events, maturities, expiries, exercises payment calculations and settlement. "Event management" refers to the industry efforts to automate the processing of lifecycle events.

Limit (up or down)

The maximum price advance or decline permitted during one trading session, as fixed by the rules of an exchange.

Limit move

A price that has advanced or declined the permissible limit during one trading session, as fixed by the rules of a contract market.

Limit order

An order to buy or sell a securities contract at a specified price or better, as contrasted with a market order which implies that the order should be filled as soon as possible.


A market with a high level of trading activity.

Liquidity risk

The risk that a firm unwinding a portfolio of illiquid instruments may have to sell them at less than their fair value. An illiquid market may be defined as one characterised by wide bid / ask spreads, lack of transparency and large movements in price after any sizeable deal.

Listed look-a-like

A term used to denote the settlement price used to value an OTC (Over-The-Counter) equity derivative trade which mirrors the official Settlement Price published for a listed derivative contract for that underlying asset traded on the Related Exchange quoted in the trade confirmation.

Loan Only Credit Default Swap (LCDS)

A credit default swap where the underlying reference credit is a syndicated secured loan rather than any other asset class (for example bond, unsecured loan or asset backed security).

Loan Participation Note (LPN)

A fixed income security that allows investors to buy portions of an outstanding loan or a package of loans. Interest and principal repayments are collected by participants on a pro rata basis.

Long form

A term used to describe a confirmation that deems a master agreement to be in place between the parties and incorporates the terms of a master agreement by reference. Since the inception of Master Confirmation Agreements (MCAs), this term has also been used to refer to the MCA, which incorporates a set of ISDA market definitions.

Look-a-like option

An Over-The-Counter (OTC) option that is cash settled based on the settlement price of a similar exchange-traded futures contract on a specified trading day.

Look-a-like swap

An Over-The-Counter (OTC) swap that is cash settled based on the settlement price of a similar exchange-traded futures contract on a specified trading day.

Lookback option

An option where the holder has the right to buy ! sell the underlying instrument at its lowest ! highest price over a specified preceding period.


A measure for determining Termination Payments following an Event of Default or Termination Event under the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement. Loss is defined as the total losses and costs (or gain) incurred by the Non-Defaulting Party (or Affected Party) in respect of the terminated transactions, including costs of funding and the reestablishment of any hedge or related trading position. Loss is determined by the Non-Defaulting Party (for an Event of Default) or Non-Affected Party (for a Termination Event) acting reasonably and in good faith. The terminating party must be able to show in reasonable detail how the loss was calculated.

Loss Given Default (LGD)

The percentage of a creditor's claim that is not recovered following an Event of Default. LGD is equal to one minus the Recovery Rate.

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The sum of money or amount of securities required to be transferred and maintained, in order to provide protection to the recipient of margin against default by a counterparty to a trade.

Market counterparty

An entity dealing as an agent or principal with a broker and involved in the same nature of investment business as the broker.

Market Disruption Event

As used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions, a Market Disruption Event occurs when there is, during the one-hour period before valuation, either a Trading Disruption or an Exchange Disruption, or if there is an Early Closure.

Market maker

A dealer who is prepared to create a two-way market by quoting simultaneously bid and offer prices.

Market order

An order to buy or sell a futures contract or option at the prevailing market price when the order reaches the floor of the exchange. Considered a day order.

Market Quotation

A measure for determining Termination Payments following an Event of Default or Termination Event under the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement. Quotations for the replacement value of the terminated transactions are requested from four leading dealers in the relevant market (reference market-makers) and the arithmetic mean of the quotations obtained will be used, disregarding the highest and lowest quotation.

Market-if-Touched (MIT) order

An order that becomes a market order when a particular price is reached. A sell MIT order is placed above the market; a buy MIT order is placed below the market. Also referred to as a board order. Compare to a Stop order.


A provider of independent data, portfolio valuations and OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives trade processing to the global financial markets.

Markit RED (Reference Entity Database)

A market standard database which provides critical data used to document and confirm credit derivative transactions. Markit RED legally verifies the relationship between Reference Entities and Reference Obligations which trade in the credit default swap market, known as pairs. The most liquid Reference Obligations are flagged as the market standard RED "preferred" and are widely used for electronic trading, matching and clearing. Markit RED has been further developed to support the growth in trading LCDS by providing transparent reference data. Markit RED verifies the Reference Entities, credit agreements and loan facilities used as Reference Obligations in the LCDS market.


A joint venture between DTCC and Markit which provides affirmation, confirmation, novation consent, clearing and portfolio reconciliation tools for OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transactions. MarkitSERV automates workflow from the point of trade through to managing trade life-cycle events, and covers all major asset classes including credit, interest rate, equity, FX and commodity derivatives.


The process of revaluing an OTC (Over-The-Counter) or exchange traded product on a regular basis.

Master Confirmation Agreement (MCA)

An agreement between two counterparties which sets out the terms and conditions that will apply between them in relation to a particular type of derivative transaction. The MCA is supplemented by a Transaction Supplement which records the economic terms specific to each individual transaction. MCAs are predominantly used in respect of equity and credit derivatives transactions and a variety of MCA templates are published and maintained by ISDA.

Material adverse change

Any negative event affecting a party that is deemed to be material. Such events can either be specifically defined or left undefined in the contract.

Maturity Date

The date upon which a debt security or an OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transaction expires. See also Scheduled Termination Date.


A credit derivative index administered by Markit comprised of fifty equally weighted municipal Reference Entities.


Often considered as the simple arithmetic average of the sum of the observed values divided by the number of observations. It is customary to represent the mean by µ.

Merger Event

The term used in an equity derivative when there is a transfer of ownership to another entity. Acceptance of an offer is sufficient to be considered a Merger Event as the actual completion of the merger may take months or years.

Mezzanine tranche

A tranche in the capital structure that is subordinated to the senior tranche, but is senior to the equity tranche. For example, a tranche with a 4%---8% attachment point / detachment point.

Minimum price fluctuation

Smallest increment of price movement possible in trading a given contract.

Minimum tick

See Minimum price fluctuation.

Minimum Transfer Amount

A de minimis transfer amount specified in a collateral agreement. It is designed to avoid the movement of insignificant collateral balances.

Modified Following

A type of Business Day Convention where payment days that fall on a bad Business Day roll forward to the next good Business Day unless that day falls in the next calendar month, in which case the payment day will roll backwards to the preceding good Business Day.

Modified Postponement

A term defined in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivative Definitions to describe one method of adjusting averaging dates should an averaging date be subject to a Market Disruption Event. If elected, a disrupted averaging date is rolled forward to the next good business date that is not also an averaging date, subject to a cap of eight good Business Days. The primary motivation for using this election is to ensure that each averaging observation will be taken on different Business Days.

Money market

The market for short-term debt instruments.

Money supply

The amount of money in the economy, consisting primarily of currency in circulation plus deposits in banks.

Monoline insurers

Specialist insurers who provide financial guarantees over asset-backed, mortgage-backed and other structured securities.

Monte Carlo simulation

A method of pricing derivatives by simulating the evolution of the underlying variable (or variables) many times over. The average outcome of the simulation is an approximation of the derivative's value. Monte Carlo is useful in the valuation of complex derivatives for which exact analytical solutions have not been found, but it can be very computationally intensive. Monte Carlo simulation can also be applied to a portfolio of instruments, rather than a single instrument, to estimate the Value-at-Risk (VaR) of that portfolio.

Mountain Range option

A style of exotic option which bases the value of the option on the performance of several underlying assets over a predetermined time period. There are five main types of mountain range options: Altiplano, Himalaya, Annapurna, Atlas and Everest.

Multi-coloured rainbow

An equity trading strategy which pays out the weighted performance of each of the constituents of a Basket; the key being that the weightings assigned to each Basket constituent are not known on inception but are assigned at valuation, usually based on the performance of each constituent; for example the best performing may receive the highest (or lowest) weighting and the worst performing will receive the lowest (or highest) weighting.

Multiple Exercise

A term relating to American style options where the Buyer has the right to exercise the trade in tranches by exercising an agreed number of options on each of the Exercise Dates. If Multiple Exercise applies, the confirmation will state the minimum, maximum and multiple integral numbers of options that may be exercised on any given day.

Mutual termination clause

A bilaterally agreed clause that allows both counterparties to a transaction to terminate the trade early under certain defined circumstances. For example a credit rating downgrade of one counterparty below a certain threshold.

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Net present value (NPV)

A technique for assessing the worth of future payments by looking at the present value of those future cashflows discounted at today's cost of capital.


Close-out netting is the process of offsetting one or a series of positive transaction exposures against one or a series of negative exposures. Settlement netting refers to the procedure of netting the on-going OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative trade cashflows between counterparties, thus reducing settlement risk.

Non-deliverable currency

A foreign currency which cannot be settled by certain market participants due to local market restrictions.

Non-Deliverable Forward (NDF)

A cash-settled forward transaction traded on non-deliverable currency, determined by multiplying the agreed notional amount (typically denominated in US dollars) by the difference between the exchange rate agreed at the time of trade execution and the prevailing exchange rate at the time of settlement.

Nostro / Settlement break

A mismatch of cashflows between the paying and receiving banks, which occurs when the expected amount of cash settlement differs from the actual amount.

Nostro reconciliation

The process performed to ensure that the expected cash movements of a transaction (or multiple transactions) are reconciled with the actual cash movements affected.


A debt instrument with a maturity of between one and ten years whereby the issuer typically agrees to make periodic payments of interest to the investor in exchange for the receipt of the principal amount when the note matures.

Notice of Physical Settlement (NOPS)

An irrevocable confirmation that the Buyer of Protection will physically settle a credit default swap contract. A NOPS must be delivered within 30 calendar days of the Event Determination Date (EDD) and must contain a detailed description of the intended Deliverable Obligation. The Buyer may change the intended Deliverable Obligation, up to and including the Physical Settlement Date, by the issuance of another NOPS. However, the settlement period is calculated from the day on which the first NOPS was delivered.

Notice of Publicly Available Information (PAI)

The second notice required to be delivered to trigger a credit derivative transaction when a Notifying Party believes a Credit Event has occurred. A PAI cites the publicly available information that reasonably confirms a Credit Event has occurred. It is market convention to cite two sources of publicly available information from internationally recognised news sources.

Notice of Readiness (NOR)

A document given to a person as defined in the charter stating that the ship has arrived at the port or berth and is ready to be loaded / discharged.

Notional Amount

The amount of principal underlying the derivative contract, by reference to which periodic payment obligations are calculated.

Novation (=Assignment)

The process by which one counterparty (Transferor) agrees to transfer to a third party (Transferee) its obligations under an existing transaction it has with another counterparty (the Remaining Party). The Transferor, Transferee and Remaining Party all need to agree to the novation. See also Stepping in / out.

Novation 2.0

The platform that allows on-line enquiry and automated reconciliation of a novated trade between a prime broker and the Trade Information Warehouse. Novation 2.0 technology ensures that there is an audit trail and automated reconciliation between the trade capture environment of both the Remaining Party institution and the Transferee institution.

Novation consent

The process by which the Transferor in a proposed Novation notifies and obtains the consent of the Remaining Party.

Novation Protocol

A document published by ISDA that defines the market standard procedures for novating interest rate and credit derivative transactions. The Protocol demands that the Transferor (the stepping-out party) seeks the consent of the Remaining Party that the Transferor (the stepping-out party) is seeking to transfer by novation one or several trades to a new party (the Transferee). A transfer by novation requires the consent of the Transferor, the Transferee and the Remaining Party.

Nth to default baskets

A credit derivative transaction based on a bespoke basket of Reference Entities, which terminates and settles completely (as per a market standard credit default swap), only when the defined Reference Entity (first, second or "nth" name) suffers a Credit Event. Pricing depends on the correlation between the names in the basket and the number of defaults that have to occur before settlement.

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Off exchange

See Over-The-Counter transaction.

Offer / Ask price

The price at which a trader or market maker is willing to sell a contract.


Business conducted outside of the remit and controls of domestic legislative or regulatory authorities.


A term defined in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions to describe one method of adjusting Averaging Dates should an Averaging Date be subject to a Market Disruption Event. If elected, a disrupted Averaging Date is omitted from the final calculation and the number of days used to calculate the averaged price will reduce by one.

Omnibus account

An account in which money or securities for more than one beneficial owner are commingled by a custodian or a sub-custodian.


The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries emerged as the major petroleum pricing power in 1973, when the ownership of oil production in the Middle East transferred from the operating companies to the governments of the producing countries or to their national oil companies. Members are Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Operational risk

The risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems, or from the impact of external events.


The right, but not the obligation, to buy (call) or sell (put) a financial instrument at an agreed upon price whether: during a certain period of time (American); on a specific date (European); or on a number of specific dates in the Exercise Period (Bermuda Option).

Option Buyer

The party who buys an option, pays a premium and in return is granted the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the relevant underlying.

Option dispersion

A structure in which one party sells an option on an index or basket of underlying assets and simultaneously buys individual options on each of the index constituents or basket components. The Buyer of this structure will be in-the-money if the index constituents or basket components are negatively correlated. Option dispersions are also known as correlation swaps.

Option grantor

The person who originates an option contract by promising to perform a certain obligation in return for receipt of the premium of the option from the option Buyer. Also known as Option Writer or Option Seller.

Option premium

The amount paid by an option Buyer to the Seller of that option.

Option pricing model

A mathematical model used to calculate the theoretical value of an option. Inputs to option pricing models typically include the price of the underlying instrument, the option strike price, the time remaining until the expiration date, the volatility of the underlying instrument and the risk-free interest rate (for example, the Treasury Bill interest rate). Examples of option pricing models include Black-Scholes and Cox-Ross-Rubinstein.

Option Seller

The party who sells an option, receives a premium and is obligated to perform if the option Buyer exercises its right under the option contract. Also referred to as the Option writer or Option grantor.

Option spread

The simultaneous purchase and sale of one or more options contracts, futures and / or cash positions.

Option writer

See Option grantor.

Ordinary Shares

See Common stock.


See Over-The-Counter transaction.

OTC Derivatives Regulators' Forum (ODRF)

An international forum consisting of central banks, bank regulators, market regulators and other governmental authorities relevant to the Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives market formed to address Central Counterparty (CCP) and trade repository questions, issues and objectives.

OTC Derivatives Supervisors' Group (ODSG)

A group of cross-jurisdictional OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives supervisors who encourage a consistent supervisory approach to address issues in the OTC derivatives market, set industry commitments and work with market participants to drive market improvements.

Out-of-currency option

A cash-settled option on an underlying asset whose local currency is a non-deliverable currency. The option payout is calculated in the local currency and then converted into another currency (typically US dollars) using the prevailing exchange rate.


A position which has no intrinsic value, for example one acquired at a rate which is less advantageous than current market rates.


A strategy whereby each party pays to the other party the performance of a different asset, resulting in a net payout of the outperformance of one asset relative to the other.


An order to buy or sell only one specific type of futures contract; an order that is not a spread order.

Overnight Index Swap (OIS)

An interest rate swap in which a Fixed Rate leg is exchanged for cashflows based on a published overnight interest rate. The overnight rate is usually calculated by an independent third party. OIS provide a flexible hedging tool for banks and corporate treasurers.

Over-The-Counter (OTC) transaction

Financial contracts or other instruments between two counterparties where the terms of such transaction are freely negotiated, as distinct from an exchange traded transaction where the size, tenor and other terms are prescribed by the rules of the relevant exchange. Also referred to as "off-exchange".

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Pairwise correlation swap

See Realised correlation swap.

Pari passu

A term used to describe the equivalent subordination of two or more debt obligations.

Partial termination

A reduction in the notional amount of a derivative contract.

Path dependent option

A financial instrument whose valuation and payoff depends on the realized price path of the underlying asset, such as an Asian option or a lookback option.

Pay As You Go Swap (PAUG)

A credit default swap transaction on an underlying ABS (Asset Backed Security) or RMBS (Residential Mortgage Backed Security) transaction. The protection Seller compensates the protection Buyer over the life of the transaction for any cashflow deficiencies, for example interest shortfalls, principal shortfalls or writedowns. PAUG is cashflow driven as opposed to single event driven as in corporate credit derivatives. Calculations and determinations are made based on the servicer report.

Payment date

The date on which a dividend, interest or other cashflow is scheduled.


A payment matching and netting service provided by Deriv/ SERV for OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivative transaction payments that cannot be settled through Deriv/SERV's Trade Information Warehouse.

Physical Settlement

The meeting of a settlement obligation under a derivative contract through the receipt or delivery of the actual underlying instead of through cash settlement.

Physical Settlement Date

The date upon which Physical Settlement occurs.


The smallest price unit of a commodity or currency.


An area on the trading floor of some exchanges where trading in a futures contract is conducted.

Pool factors

The current outstanding principal balance of a particular asset-backed bond divided by the original issued balance of such bonds expressed as a percentage.


The ability to transfer cleared positions from one clearing member to another.

Portfolio compression

A process of reducing the size of a derivative portfolio, in terms of the total number of trades and the outstanding Notional Amount, whilst maintaining the overall risk characteristics of the portfolio. Also sometimes referred to as "tear-ups". Providers of trade compression services include TriOptima (TriReduce) and Markit.

Portfolio margining

A method for setting margin requirements that evaluates positions as a group or portfolio and takes into account the potential for losses on some positions to be offset by gains on others. The margin requirement for a portfolio is typically set equal to an estimate of the largest possible decline in the net value of the portfolio that could occur under assumed changes in market conditions. Sometimes referred to as risk-based margining.

Portfolio reconciliation

A process of mutual trade comparison which occurs in the event of a collateral dispute over the mark-to-market value of a collateralised portfolio. The process highlights any difference in the number and / or the mark-to-market value of trades that then need to be investigated and resolved.

Portfolio swap

A total return swap that is covered under a portfolio swap agreement between two parties. This arrangement enables high volume trading without requiring the legal execution of individual OTC (Over-The-Counter) trade confirmations, as opposed to trading discrete total return swaps which do require the execution of individual legal confirmations.


A term defined in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivative Definitions to describe one method of adjusting Averaging Dates should an Averaging Date be subject to a Market Disruption Event. If elected, a disrupted Averaging Date is rolled forward to the next good Business Day, regardless of whether such date is also an Averaging Date, subject to a cap of eight good Business Days. Under this provision, the same date can be used for multiple observations.

Potential Future Exposure (PFE)

A measurement of counterparty credit exposure that calculates the maximum amount of exposure which can occur at a future point in time with a high degree of statistical confidence. For example, the 95% PFE is the level of potential exposure that is exceeded with only 5% probability. Unlike VaR (Value-at-Risk), PFE may be defined at a point far in the future (for example several years) whilst VaR refers to a short horizon (for example 10-day).

Power reverse dual currency transactions

A power reverse dual currency note or swap is a leveraged structured product made up of a series of currency options exposing counterparties to variations in interest rate differentials between countries.

Preceding Business Day Convention

A type of Business Day Convention where payment days that fall on a bad Business Day roll back to the preceding good Business Day.

Preferred stock

Equity instruments issued by a company which share certain properties with bonds. Both common stock and preferred stock are equity securities which have dividends paid out of after-tax profit, but preferred stock has priority in the payment of dividends and in the instance of liquidation. Bonds and preferred stock are alike in being rated by the major credit rating companies, in issuing (in most instances) a regular fixed payment and in not conferring any voting rights on their holder.


1) The price of an option, paid by the purchaser to the option grantor, for the right to buy or sell the underlying at the specified strike price.

2) The additional payment allowed by exchange regulation for delivery of higher-than-required standards or grades of a commodity against a futures contract.

3) The dollar amount by which a security trades above its principal value. See also Issue price.

Premium-reduction device

A strategy to reduce the cost of an option or other derivative. There are three main ways to achieve this: selling a second derivative to reduce the overall cost of a strategy; limiting the payout profile of the derivative; or accepting payments below market rates.

Present value

The current value of a sum which is to be paid (or received) on a future date. It is calculated as the amount that would have to be invested today at a specified rate for a specified period to obtain a known amount at the end of the period. In effect, it is a method of compounding in reverse. Also called fair value.

Price Limit order

A customer order that specifies the price at which a trade can be executed.

Price return equity swap

Similar to a total return swap, except that dividends are not passed through to the Buyer.

Primary dealer

A designation given by the Federal Reserve System to commercial banks or brokers / dealers who meet specific criteria. Among the criteria are certain capital requirements and meaningful participation in the Treasury auctions.

Prime broker

A large bank or securities firm that provides a range of services such as securities lending, portfolio valuation and reporting, trade execution and cash management to hedge funds and other professionals in return for a fee. Hedge funds typically use prime brokers to gain access to a centralised securities clearing facility and to take advantage of the operational infrastructure of the provider firm.

Proprietary (Prop) trading

The strategy used by investment banks and other financial institutions to trade on the firm's own account rather than using customer capital.

Protection Buyer

A party to a credit default swap that pays the protection Seller a premium in return for the protection Seller agreeing to compensate the protection Buyer in the event that the Reference Entity suffers a Credit Event.

Protection Seller

A party to a credit default swap that assumes the credit risk of a Reference Entity in return for receipt of premium.

Put Option

A contract that grants its purchaser the right, but not the obligation, to sell the underlying instrument at the specified strike price on or before the expiration date. Compare with Call Option.

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A product where the underlying is denominated in one foreign currency but settled at a Fixed Rate in another currency. It uses a Floating Rate of a non-domestic interest rate but applies this to a notional amount in a domestic currency. Such products are common amongst speculators looking to gain exposure to foreign assets yet still protecting themselves from exchange rate fluctuations.

Quanto swap / Differential swap

An interest rate swap where one of the Floating Rates is a non-domestic interest rate, but it is applied to a notional amount denominated in the domestic currency.

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An option strategy which pays out based on the performance of the asset in a basket which has performed the best or worst within a given time period relative to the other assets in the basket. Also known as a "best of or worst of".


An upward movement of prices following a decline. Also known as a Recovery.

Range accrual

A form of interest accrual in which the coupon rate is earned only on a day in which the rate from which the coupon is derived falls within a specified range.

Range binary

A range binary pays out if a specified spot rate trades within a given range over a specified period of time, in exchange for payment of a premium. The lower the volatility of the spot rate, the more likely the buyer is to profit. See also Trigger condition.

Ratio spread

This strategy, which applies to both puts and calls, involves buying or selling options at one strike price in greater number than those bought or sold at another strike price.

Realised correlation swap

A swap that uses the observed correlation between each component in a basket as a basis for the payoff calculation. See also Correlation swap, Dispersion trade.

Recognised Clearing House (RCH)

An organisation which provides clearing services for a market. Recognition is granted by the Financial Services Authority to those clearing houses meeting its requirements under the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Only RCHs are permitted to operate as clearing houses in the UK.

Record date

The date on which the company registrar determines the parties holding stock entitled to receive a dividend payment. This party is known as the beneficial owner.


An upward price movement after a decline.

Recovery rate

The amount of a creditor's claim, expressed as a percentage, that is actually recovered through liquidation of the assets of a company following bankruptcy.

Recovery rate swap

A credit derivative where the payoff is based on the difference between a preset fixed recovery rate and the recovery rate which is observed at the time of the Credit Event.


The withdrawal of funds by an investor in an investment fund, usually reflecting dissatisfaction with the fund's performance. Redemption also refers to the final repayment on a debt obligation.

Reference Entity

The underlying Corporate or Sovereign in respect of which credit protection is being offered by the Seller of protection to the Buyer of protection under a credit derivative.

Reference Obligation

A debt obligation of a Reference Entity that is typically representative of the overall credit quality of the Reference Entity. The Reference Obligation determines the minimum seniority of an eligible Deliverable Obligation under a credit derivative. A Deliverable Obligation must not be subordinated to the Reference Obligation. It should be noted that there is no requirement to deliver the Reference Obligation in settlement of a credit derivative.

Related Exchange

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions, meaning a derivatives exchange on which listed options or futures contracts on a Share or Index are traded which is deemed to have a material effect on the overall market for that Share or Index.

Repudiation / Moratorium

A Credit Event applicable to Sovereign and some Asian Reference Entities which occurs when there is both a statement by an authorised government officer that repudiates or rejects the validity of one or more of their debt obligations, followed by a Failure to Pay or Restructuring of one or more of such obligations.

Repurchase agreement (Repo)

A fixed income transaction used for short-term financing involving the sale of an asset to another party with a simultaneous agreement to buy the asset back at a later date at a pre-agreed forward price. The counterparty selling the asset sees the transaction as a repo. The counterparty purchasing the asset sees the same trade as a reverse repo.

Reserve margin

The ratio of installed capacity to peak load of a utility or geographic area. Reserve margin is expressed in megawatts or as a percentage by which the installed capacity exceeds the peak load.

Residential Mortgage Backed Security (RMBS)

A type of security the cashflows of which derive from a pool of residential debt such as mortgages, home equity loans and subprime mortgages.

Resting order

A limit order to buy at a price below or to sell at a price above the prevailing market that is being held by a floor broker. Such orders may either be day orders or open orders.


A Credit Event that occurs when a Reference Entity restructures the terms of some or all of its debt obligations in agreement with its creditors resulting in the deterioration in the creditworthiness of the Reference Entity. Common restructuring events include debt for equity swaps, extensions to the maturity date or reductions in principal or interest payable. See also Credit Event.


A reversal within a major price trend.

Reverse floater

See Inverse floater.


A measure of an option's sensitivity to a change in interest rates. This will affect the future price of the option and the time value of the premium. Its impact increases with the length to maturity of the option.

Risk capital

Funds at risk in a company or trading business.

Risk reversal

A strategy, such as an interest rate collar, whereby a party wishing to limit the potential downside of holding a long position in an underlying buys an out-of-the-money put and offsets the premium payable on such put with the sale of an out-of-the-money call. Alternatively this can be a strategy whereby a party wishing to limit the potential downside of holding a short position in an underlying buys an out-of-the-money call and offsets the premium payable on such call with the sale of an out-of-the-money put.

Risked-based margining

See Portfolio margining.

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The practice of trading in and out of the market on very small price fluctuations. A person who engages in this practice is known as a scalper.

Scenario testing

A methodology that attempts to build plausible views of a small number of different possible futures for an organisation operating in conditions of high uncertainty.

Scheduled Termination Date

The scheduled maturity date of a credit derivative contract. A Credit Event has to occur on or before the Scheduled Termination Date for protection to be valid. The Termination Date is the date on which the credit derivative contract settles (which may be earlier if a Credit Event occurs).

Scheduled Trading Day

A term used in the 2002 Equity Derivatives Definitions being a day on which each Exchange and Related Exchange in respect of a trade are scheduled to be open for trading for their respective trading sessions (for example each Monday to Friday barring national holidays or other non-trading days).


A web-delivered technology platform that provides management and straight through processing for OTC (Over-The-Counter) trade confirmations. Scrittura is owned by Autonomy and automates the full post-trade lifecycle of trade documentation and communication. DocGenerator and DocManager are parts of the Scrittura software platform. DocGenerator consists of web-enabled document production that creates trade-related documents and supports the management of financial, legal and operational risk. DocManager provides structured, single-source storage for all trade-related documentation, including support for automatic indexing, version control and flexible search criteria.

Second Method

A payment method following the occurrence or designation of an Early Termination Date under the 1992 ISDA Master Agreement. Second Method stipulates that the net termination payment must be transferred by one party to the other regardless of whether such payment is due to the Defaulting or the Non-Defaulting Party. Often referred to as "full two way payment", second method is the market standard adopted under the 2002 ISDA Master Agreement (although the term is no longer used in this later version).

Secondary market

A market where previously issued securities are bought and sold.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

A federal agency in the United States which is the principal regulator of the US securities industry and the lead enforcer of federal securities laws.


The generic term for the creation of an Asset-Backed-Security (ABS).


A transferable instrument representing an ownership interest in a corporation (equity security or stock) or the debt of a corporation, municipality or sovereign. Other forms of debt such as mortgages can be converted into securities. Certain derivatives on securities (for example, options on equity securities) are also considered securities for the purposes of certain securities laws.

Security interest / Pledge

A type of collateral agreement in which the collateral provider creates a security interest in favour of the collateral receiver. The security interest allows the receiver to take legal possession of the collateral assets only in the event of the default of the collateral provider. Outside of a default, the legal ownership of the collateral assets remains with the provider, whilst the assets are physically held by the receiver.


The safe-keeping of a customer's assets (client money) by a bank or custodian. Segregated assets must not be commingled with the assets of the custodian or bank and are therefore ring-fenced in the event that the custodian or bank enters into bankruptcy proceedings.

Series (of options)

Options of the same type (meaning either puts or calls, but not both), which cover the same underlying futures contract or other underlying instrument, having the same strike price and expiration date.

Serving notice

A term used to refer to the process of informing a counterparty that the party serving notice will terminate transactions under an ISDA Master Agreement as a result of an Event of Default or Termination Event. An Early Termination Date occurring no later than twenty days from the effective date of notice must be stipulated in the notice.


The process whereby obligations arising under a derivative transaction are discharged through payment and / or delivery.

Settlement method election

A process where the electing party (determined at the time of trade) has the choice of specifying cash settlement or physical settlement at expiry, rather than specifying at time of trade which settlement method will be used. If no choice is made, there will be a default method specified in the confirmation. The choice must be made prior to a specified date.

Settlement pre-matching

A process of matching payments via phone or electronic platform such as Deriv/SERV, in which counterparties can bilaterally match payments in advance of their settlement date.

Settlement risk

The risk that arises when payments are not exchanged simultaneously. The simplest case is when a party makes a payment to its counterparty but will not be recompensed until sometime later; the risk is that the counterparty may default before making the counterpayment. Settlement risk is most pronounced in the foreign exchange markets, where payments in different currencies take place during normal business hours in their respective countries and can therefore be made up to 18 hours apart, and where the volume of payments makes it impossible to monitor receipts except on a delayed basis. This type of risk afflicted counterparties of Germany's Bank Herstatt in 1974, which closed its doors between receipt and payment on foreign exchange contracts. As a result, settlement risk is sometimes called "Herstatt" risk.

Shock absorber

A temporary restriction in the trading of stock index futures which becomes effective following a significant intra-day decrease in stock index futures prices. Shock absorbers are designed to provide an adjustment period to digest new market information, and do not permit trading below a specified price level.


The sale of a borrowed security, commodity or currency with the expectation that the asset will fall in value.

Short form (Transaction supplement)

The Transaction Supplement is entered into with respect to each trade under a Master Confirmation Agreement (MCA), supplementing the MCA and incorporating by reference the terms of the MCA. The MCA and Transaction Supplement together constitute the confirmation of a transaction. The MCA and Transaction Supplement structure removes the need for non-economic terms to be defined on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

Shout option

An option where the Buyer has the ability to lock-in a price for the underlying asset traded on a business day during the life of the option and then use this price in the payout if it is more favourable than the price used to value the option on the expiration date.

Small Bang Protocol

An ISDA protocol published July 14, 2009 which extended the auction hardwiring provisions (implemented by the Big Bang Protocol on April 8, 2009) to Restructuring Credit Events. Also known as the July 2009 Supplement. See also Big Bang Protocol.


Structured interest rate derivative transactions where for an initial term the coupon is specified. Thereafter each coupon is defined in terms of the previous coupon. There is a guaranteed high initial coupon, but coupon payments thereafter are determined by the speed with which the Floating Rate rises or falls. Snowballs are typically callable.


A derivative similar to a snowball in that it has the similar high coupon for the initial term of the swap and thereafter each coupon is defined in terms of the previous coupon. Snowblades have a target redemption amount, in that when the coupons paid meet an agreed target total, the note will redeem.

Soft Credit Event

A Credit Event in which not all debt obligations have become due and payable immediately. In this situation, not all Deliverable Obligations will have the same value, resulting in a "cheapest to deliver" (CTD) option.


A borrower that is a national government or a government agency. Sovereigns account for a large proportion of all emerging market Reference Entities, but are generally less common than corporates or financial institutions in the credit derivatives market.

Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

A corporate entity used for a wide variety of purposes including the securitisation of loans, bonds or receivables in order to help spread the credit and interest rate risk of an underlying portfolio over a number of investors. SPVs are typically ring-fenced, bankruptcy remote, highly rated and offshore vehicles.

Specific risk

The portion of a security's market risk that is unique to that security. For example, the risk that an individual stock's price may vary because of its industrial sector rather than the broader equity market.

Spin off

A sale by the issuer of some of its assets or a division of its company. This is often completed via a rights issue where an offer is made to existing shareholders to buy shares in the newly independent company.

Spot month

The futures contract that matures and becomes deliverable during the present month. Also called current delivery month.

Spot price / rate

The price of a commodity, security or currency that is quoted for immediate payment and / or delivery.

Spread (bid / offer)

The difference between the bid and the offer rate. The bid / offer spread is a measure of liquidity and counterparty risk.

Spread (credit)

The price which indicates the creditworthiness of an underlying asset.


Standard Settlement Instructions for derivative transactions. SSIs outline the bank account details of legal entities for specific currencies and / or products.

Stepping in

The process in a Novation when a third party (the Transferee) replaces one of the original parties (the Transferor) to a transaction upon identical terms to the original transaction. See also Novation.

Stepping out

The process where one of the original parties (the Transferor) exits a transaction and, instead of terminating, a third party (the Transferee) steps in upon identical terms and assumes the rights and obligations of the party that is stepping out. See also Novation.

Stock consolidation

A multiplication by the issuer of each of the company's outstanding shares by a certain factor in order to increase the share price (for example a 1:2 stock consolidation doubles the share price and halves the number of shares). This corporate action can be used to deter small investors, or to increase the attractiveness of shares that historically have had a very low share price. Also known as a reverse split.

Stock Index

An indicator used to measure and report value changes in a selected group of stocks. How a particular stock index tracks the market depends on its composition, namely its sampling of stocks, its weighting of individual stocks and the method of averaging used to establish an Index.

Stock Index futures / options

A financial contract based on the value of an underlying stock Index such as the FTSE 100 in the UK, the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 Index in the US and the Nikkei 225 and 300 in Japan. Delivery of the contract is fulfilled by the payment or receipt of cash against the exchange calculated delivery Settlement Price.

Stock market

A market in which shares of stock are bought and sold.

Stock split

A division by the issuer of each of the company's outstanding shares by a certain factor in order to reduce the share price (for example a 2:1 stock split halves the share price and doubles the number of shares). Often the intention of this corporate action is to attract new investors by making the shares individually more affordable.

Stop Limit order

An order that will be executed as soon as there is a trade at the specified price. The order, however, can only be filled at the stop limit price or better.

Stop order

An order placed with a broker to buy or sell a particular underlying at the market price if and when the price reaches a specified level. Stop orders are used to limit the amount of losses if the price of the underlying moves against the position held by the investor. Stop orders are also used to protect profits. A sell stop is placed below the market; a buy stop is placed above the market. Sometimes referred to as a stop loss order.

Storage certificate

A document that verifies the volume of a commodity in a storage facility.


An option trading strategy in which the Buyer holds a call and a put with the same Strike Price and Expiration Date. Straddles allow the holder to benefit from volatility in the value of the underlying regardless of whether the price rises or falls.


The purchase of an out-of-the-money call and an out-of-the-money put option. Strangles allow the holder to benefit from volatility in the value of the underlying asset, but upside benefits only begin to accrue after the underlying asset's price has moved beyond the relevant strikes. Strangles are typically cheaper than straddles, assuming all other factors remain the same.

Strike price

The price at which a specific derivative contract can be exercised. Strike prices is mostly used to describe stock and index options, in which strike prices are fixed in the contract. For call options, the strike price is where the security can be bought (up to the expiration date), while for put options the strike price is the price at which shares can be sold.

The difference between the underlying security's current market price and the option's strike price represents the amount of profit per share gained upon the exercise or the sale of the option. This is true for options that are in the money; the maximum amount that can be lost is the premium paid.

Also known as the "exercise price".

Strike prices are one of the key determinants of the premium, which represents the market value of an options contract. Other determinants include the time until expiration, the volatility of the underlying security and prevailing interest rates. Strike prices are established when a contract is first written.

Strike price differential

The difference between the Settlement Price and the Strike Price at the point of option exercise.


The term used for lending to borrowers at a higher interest rate than the prime rate, reflecting their higher risk of default. Subprime borrowers typically have low credit scores due to prior bankruptcy, missed loan payments, home repossession and similar occurrences.

Succession Event

A term used in the 2003 ISDA Credit Derivatives Definitions being an event such as a merger, demerger, amalgamation or transfer that changes the legal structure of a Reference Entity under a credit derivative transaction which may result in the original Reference Entity specified in the credit derivatives transaction being replaced by one / several new Reference Entities under the successor provisions. A Succession Event is distinct from a Restructuring Credit Event which refers to the restructuring of the debt obligations of a Reference Entity resulting in the deterioration in the creditworthiness or financial condition of the Reference Entity. The ISDA Credit Derivatives Determination Committees now determine whether a Succession Event has occurred.

Super senior

The most senior tranche of a CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation). Super senior tranches are normally AAA rated.


A derivative where two counterparties exchange streams of cashflows. These streams are known as the legs of the swap and are calculated by reference to a Notional Amount.

Swap Data Repository (SDR)

Under the Dodd-Frank Act derivative transactions must be reported to a registered SDR. The SDR is a repository which will keep records of all the key data, providing transparency and a centralised vantage point for regulators to view accurate and complete information for each swap or security-based swap asset class in a timely manner. A registered SDR will be expected to provide: enforcement agencies with information on trading activity; counterparty-specific information about systemic risk based on trading activity; aggregate trade information for publication on market-wide activity; and a framework for real-time reporting from Swap Execution Facilities (SEFs) and clearing houses.

Swap Execution Facility (SEF)

A term created by the Dodd-Frank Act and therein defined as "a facility, trading system or platform in which multiple participants have the ability to execute or trade swaps by accepting bids and offers made by other participants that are open to multiple participants in the facility or system, through any means of interstate commerce". SEFs will facilitate pre- and post-trade transparency, encourage competitive execution and provide the tools required to ensure a complete record and audit trail of trades. SEFs will enable institutional clients to fully automate their workflow from trade execution through to clearing.

Swapclear (LCH)

An institution which acts as a Central Clearing Counterparty (CCP) in certain classes of OTC (Over-The-Counter) products, such as interbank interest rate swaps, repos and cash bond trades executed by its members.


An option to enter into a predetermined swap transaction.

Synthetic CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation)

A CDO structure which has a non-physical asset portfolio, instead deriving exposure to the underlying through credit default swaps. This structure is often issued as a single tranche deal. The risk profile of the tranche will be bespoke, reflecting investor requirements. Synthetic CDOs may be either funded (securitised) or unfunded, where the exposure is transferred to investors through derivative contracts.

Systematic risk

Market risk due to price fluctuations which cannot be eliminated by diversification.

Systemic risk

The risk that a default by one market participant will have repercussions on other participants due to the interlocking nature of financial markets. For example, Customer A's default in X market may affect Intermediary B's ability to fulfil its obligations in Markets X, Y and Z.

Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs)

Financial institutions that risk toppling the whole financial system should they fail. These institutions may be in such a position due to their size, interconnectedness or unique position.

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See Portfolio compression.


A standard reference source for a master agreement or confirmation, which may either be published by an industry body or agreed between two counterparties.

Tender Offer

A term used in the 2002 ISDA Equity Derivatives Definitions essentially meaning the transfer of ownership of greater than 10% but less than 100% of Shares of a company to another individual / entity. As with Merger Events, the offer alone is sufficient to trigger the fallbacks for this event.


The time to maturity of an asset, liability, trade, transaction or portfolio.

Term sheet

A document produced prior to execution indicating the financial terms and conditions of a specific transaction. The term sheet does not constitute a confirmation nor a binding commitment to trade.

Termination Event

A set of prescribed events under the ISDA Master Agreement the occurrence of any of which will allow the terminating party (or parties) to close-out the transactions affected by the relevant Termination Event. Termination Events differ from Events of Default in that they generally relate to a change in circumstances resulting in one party (or both) being unwilling or unable to continue to honour its obligations. An Event of Default relates to a breach of obligations.


The derivative of the option price equation with respect to the remaining time to expiration of the option. A measure of the sensitivity of the value of the option to the passage of time.

Third-Party Access (TPA)

Open and non-discriminatory access to the networks by those who do not own the physical gas, crude or electricity transmission network infrastructure. TPA is fundamental in facilitating greater competition and making energy markets work effectively. Also called common carriage.


An amount of uncollateralised exposure a party is prepared to accept against its counterparty before calling for collateral.

Thunderhead NOW

A technology platform used for OTC (Over-The-Counter) trade confirmations and term sheet generation. Thunderhead NOW provides the straight through processing support required for automating back office document generation such as OTC trade confirmations while also providing real-time, exception handling of documents required for the front office and operations areas. Thunderhead NOW also provides integrated support for industry standards such as FpML and the DTCC DerivSERV electronic matching process.


The minimum price movement of a financial contract, expressed in fractions of a point.

Tie out

The process where bronze records are matched in the DTCC Trade Information Warehouse. These matched trades are not legally binding and are known as bronze records (as opposed to gold records which are legally binding).

Time charter

Charter party agreement for the hiring of a vessel for a period of time, with the charterer deciding on the type and quantity of cargo, as well as the ports of loading and discharging, with agreed constraints. In this type of agreement loading and unloading costs are not usually included in the charter rate.

Time Limit order

A customer order that designates the time during which it can be executed.

Time value

The amount by which the premium of an option exceeds its intrinsic value. Where an option has no intrinsic value the premium consists entirely of time value.

Total Return Swap (TRS)

A swap where one party (the total return payer) makes payments based on an increase in the value of the underlying and the other party (the total return receiver) makes a payment based on any decreases in the underlying. In addition the total return payer pays any dividends and coupons received on the underlying to the total return receiver. The total return receiver pays the total amount payer the funding cost. In effect, the total return receiver is synthetically long the underlying asset and the total return payer is short the underlying asset.

Trade date

The date on which the terms of a transaction are agreed.

Trade Information Warehouse (TIW)

The centralised and secure global infrastructure for OTC (Over-The-Counter) derivatives. The TIW currently covers credit derivative contracts but is designed to be extendible to other asset classes. The TIW is a comprehensive trade database containing the legal record for all contracts eligible for electronic confirmation. The TIW will also automate and standardise post trade processes such as payments, notional adjustments and lifecycle event processing.

Trade Reference Identifier (TRI)

A unique identifier assigned to each confirmed contract between counterparties in the Trade Information Warehouse which provides a link to enable automated Settlement and trade lifecycle event processing. Each TRI reference consists of the date of confirmation followed by a unique serial number.

Trading around assets

Using asset information incorporated into trading decisions to make incremental gains from monetising the embedded options within the assets.

Trading Disruption

A trading disruption event that occurs when there is a suspension of or limitation imposed on trading by the relevant Exchange or Related Exchange.


A term most frequently used in relation to portfolio and structured credit derivatives, tranches are categorised by their risk in relation to the probability of being impacted by a default in the underlying portfolio of credits. The risk is defined by an attachment and detachment point to the capital structure (0-100%): for example, an equity tranche (0%-3% attachment / detachment); mezzanine (3%-7%); senior (7%-12%). Riskier tranches will command higher premiums (returns) for the protection Seller than like for like tranches that are senior in the capital structure. Tranches in funded products may be rated, according to the probability of the portfolio suffering one or more defaults. Accordingly, investors can use the product to meet their bespoke risk / return requirements.

Transaction supplement

The short confirmation that evidences a transaction under a Master Confirmation Agreement (MCA) (referred to commonly as a "short form").

Transfer of title

Under a transfer of title collateral agreement, the collateral provider grants full title over the collateral assets transferred to the collateral taker. The collateral taker has full legal ownership of the assets and can use them without restriction.

Treasury bill

A zero coupon US government debt instrument with an original maturity of one year or less, generally issued with 13, 26 or 52 week maturities. Treasury bills are sold at a discount from par with the interest earned being the difference between the face value received at maturity and the price paid.

Treasury bond

US Government-debt security with a coupon and original maturity of more than 10 years. Interest is paid semi-annually.

Treasury note

US Government-debt security with a coupon and original maturity of one to 10 years.


The general direction, either upward or downward, in which prices have been moving.

Trigger condition

The payout of path-dependent options, such as barrier options and digital options, which depends on a named market variable satisfying a specific trigger condition. The most common condition is that the spot rate (or price) of the underlying must trade through a specified level before the option becomes active (or inactive), but many other types of condition are possible. See also Range binary.


Third-party vendor providing post trade services to the derivatives market in an effort to reduce costs and operational risks for their subscribers. Services include triReduce, which terminates economically redundant trade inventory in a tear-up process, and triResolve which reconciles the terms of bilateral derivative trade portfolios between counterparties.

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UK base rate

The interest rate at which selected specified UK banks can borrow funds from the Bank of England.


An asset, index, currency, rate, credit or other variable upon the basis of which the value and cashflows or deliverables under a derivative transaction are calculated.

Undisputed amount

In the event that one party calls for the transfer of an amount of collateral but the other party feels that the correct requirement is lower, the undisputed amount will be the lesser of the two. The undisputed amount will be required to be transferred according to the normal collateral process and timings.

Unit Investment Trust (UIT)

A company offering investors a static portfolio of stocks and bonds as redeemable securities for a designated time period.

Unrecognised trade

A transaction that cannot be identified by the alleged counterparty to the trade.


A conditional variance swap which accrues realised volatility only when the previous day's underlying price is above a pre-specified level.

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Valuation Agent

The party who values a derivative transaction or portfolio of derivatives transactions and demands a payment or delivery of collateral, usually the party making the collateral call.

Valuation Date

A date upon which a collateral call is made or the value of an asset is determined.

Valuation percentage

The percentage by which the market value of the collateral will be reduced to allow for price volatility and instrument liquidity in respect of the relevant collateral between collateral calls. Also known as a Haircut.

Value-at-Risk (VaR)

A statistical measure which calculates the maximum loss that any financial instrument may be expected to suffer over a defined period with a specified confidence level (e.g. a 95% confidence level on a 100 day VaR measure assumes that the maximum loss would not be exceeded on 95 days out of 100). VaR is a valuable risk management tool as it allows risk across diverse asset classes to be pooled into a single measure of potential aggregate loss.

Vanilla (flow / market standard)

A derivative transaction which has a very basic structure, likely to be the most commonly traded in the relevant market.


A measure of volatility, risk or statistical dispersion. Variance is the square of the standard deviation.

Variance option

An option that uses the variance (being the volatility squared) of an underlying's price movement over a period as the basis for determining whether or not the option will be exercised.

Variance swap

A forward that uses the variance (being the volatility squared) of an underlying's price movement over a period as the basis for the payoff calculation.

Variance swap dispersion

A structure in which one party sells a variance swap on an Index and simultaneously buys individual variance swaps on each of the Index constituents. The Buyer of this structure will be in-the-money if the Index components are negatively correlated


Linear value-at-risk.

Variation margin

The profits or losses on open positions that are calculated daily in the mark-to-market process and then paid / credited.


Option risk parameter that measures the sensitivity of the option price to changes in the price volatility of the underlying.

Vertical spread

An option strategy relying on the difference in premium between two options that share a common underlying and maturity but are struck at different prices.


The variability of movements in a security or underlying price. It is a measure of the amount by which an asset's price is expected to fluctuate over a given period of time. It is normally measured by the annual standard deviation of daily price changes.

Volcker rule

A proposal by American economist Paul Volcker to restrict United States banks from entering into certain kinds of speculative investments.

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Warehouse receipt

A document certifying the existence and availability of a given quantity and quality of a commodity in storage in a licensed warehouse that is recognized and used for delivery purposes in both cash and futures transactions.


An option on an underlying for commodities in the form of a transferable security and which can be listed on an exchange.

Wedding cake

An option with a fixed payout which is based upon the fluctuations of an underlying Floating Rate, which is set within the parameters of predetermined barriers. The highest coupon is paid if the applicable rate remains within the inner range, whilst the coupon becomes gradually less if it moves outwards.

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X-inefficiency is the failure to minimize costs or maximize returns. (Sometimes referred to as X-efficiency, but carrying the same meaning.)

X or Cross Trade

A transaction that is not exposed to the public by outcry or usual trading practices. This type of trade is permissible provided it is done in accordance with the rules and regulations of the particular exchange and other regulatory organizations. The letter X can indicate this type of transaction on a ticker tape. It may be also used on a ticket or blotter.

X or XD

X or XD is a symbol used in newspapers to indicate that a stock is trading ex-dividend, i.e., without dividend. The x symbol is also used in bond tables to signify without interest.


The abbreviation used for gold.


International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights.


Xeno means foreign or strange. A Xenocurrency is one that trades outside its domestic boundaries.

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The rate of return on an investment, normally expressed as an annual percentage rate.

Yield curve

The term structure of interest rates in a particular market.

Yield curve risk

The risk of loss due to shifts in the position or shape of the yield curve.

Yield curve swap

A swap in which two interest rate streams are exchanged, reflecting different points on the yield curve.

Yield to maturity

The amount of interest on an annual compound basis, which a bond would pay if held until redemption or the maturity date. Also, the interest rate that, if used to discount all cashflows, would compute the current price.

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Zero coupon swap

A swap where one counterparty pays a Floating Rate (for example three month LIBOR) throughout the life of the swap while the other counterparty makes a single lump sum payment upon the maturity date of the swap.
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