Check out the new Reuters Financial Glossary

April 9, 2010

It starts with “A/S” (abbreviation for Aktieselskab, Danish company title) and ends with “zero coupon yield curve” (a yield curve of zero coupon bonds. Market practice is often to derive this curve theoretically from the par yield curve. Also known as a spot yield curve).

Between those two entries in the Reuters Financial Glossary are more than 2,000 other terms used in the financial industry and in the reports that journalists write about it.

As we did with the Handbook of Journalism, we’re making the financial glossary available on the Web. As with the handbook, I believe it’s important that Reuters readers and customers see the guidelines our journalists live by and some of the tools we use to do our work.

The glossary is the result of hard work by Ian Jones, who retired from the Reuters London Treasury desk and did a total rewrite of the glossary; Tomasz Janowski, of our Singapore Treasury desk, who reviewed the work; and interactive developer Mia Walczak, who led the development effort.

The glossary can shed a little light on the sometimes murky world of finance. As we’ve seen from the fallout of the recession, it’s a world everyone should be more familiar with.

The glossary also makes for good reading.

Some of the terms will be familiar to readers who follow the debate on Wall Street pay–“golden hello,” “golden handcuffs” and “golden parachute.”

Others may be less familiar: “Shogun bond” does not refer to the brotherhood of Samurai but to a “public offering in Japan of a non-yen bond by a foreign borrower.”

There’s a “swaption,” understandably “an option on a swap,” and the “Old Lady of Threadneedle Street,” the “colloquial name for the Bank of England,” which is situated on Threadneedle Street in London.

Then there are “Fibonacci numbers,” a number sequence named after a 12th-century Italian mathematician that has shown up Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and other novels. As the definition explains: “The ratio of any number to the next highest in the sequence is approximately 1 to 0.618 and the ratio between any number and the two next higher numbers, for example 89 to 233, is approximately 1 to 0.382. They are sometimes described as golden ratios and said to be found in a wide range of natural phenomena such as the ratio of male to female bees in a hive and the diameters of the seed spirals in the head of a sunflower.”

Not all the entries have such a magical component, but they’re all helpful in decoding the financial world.

There’s a feedback button on the glossary, so if you have feedback we’d love to hear from you.

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