The Washington Post decodes business terms

by January 25, 2011

Photo by flickr user fuzzcat

When you’re on deadline and you need to define business terms quickly (and accurately), sometimes a search engine just isn’t enough.

Your Wall Street source just mentioned “open-outcry” in an interview. You smiled and nodded at the time, but now you’re at your desk and you have no idea what it means. What exactly is “backwardation,” and how could “delta” refer to anything other than an airline?

Don’t sweat it. The Washington Post has you covered. With their extensive business glossary at your fingertips, you can search for the phrases that stumped you, and make them easy for readers to understand. Whether you’re a veteran business reporter or new to the biz beat, this glossary will help get you up to speed.

Here’s a sample of unique definitions the glossary offers. Among a variety of helpful resources for reporters, a business-terms glossary was one of the tools most requested by our free training attendees:

At The Money – An option is at-the-money if the strike price of the option is equal to the market price of the underlying security. For example, if xyz stock is trading at 54, then the xyz 54 option is at-the-money.

A “busted convertible” isn’t just the old beater in your backyard.

Busted Convertible – Also called a fixed-income equivalent, a convertible security that is trading like a straight security because the optioned common stock is trading low.

Fill or Kill Order – A trading order that is canceled unless executed within a designated time period.

Noise – Price and volume fluctuations that can confuse interpretation of market direction.

Over-the-counter Market (OTC) – A decentralized market (as opposed to an exchange market) where geographically dispersed dealers are linked together by telephones and computer screens. The market is for securities not listed on a stock exchange.

Quiet Title – A suit brought to remove a claim or objection on title.

There’s more than one type of “OTC Market.”

Scalp – To trade for small gains. It normally involves establishing and liquidating a position quickly, usually within the same day. scenario analysis The use of horizon analysis to project bond total returns under different reinvestment rates and future market yields.

Universal Life – A whole life insurance product whose investment component pays a competitive interest rate rather than the below-market crediting rate.

Wild Card Option – The right of the seller of a Treasury Bond futures contract to give notice of intent to deliver at or before 8:00 p. m. Chicago time after the closing of the exchange (3:15 p. m. Chicago time) when the futures settlement price has been fixed.

If you come across a term that you can’t find in The Washington Post’s glossary, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to answer it for you, or point you in the direction of where to find the definition.

Want to branch out to more specific topics? The Washington Post also features concise mutual fund and retirement glossaries.