Financial Terms
Great Depression

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Definition of Great Depression

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Great Depression

The period of very high unemployment during the early 1930s.

Related Terms:


A prolonged period of very low economic activity with large-scale unemployment.

Accelerated cost recovery system (ACRS)

Schedule of depreciation rates allowed for tax purposes.

Accounting period

The period of time for which financial statements are produced – see also financial year.


a repetitive action performed in fulfillment of business functions

activity analysis

the process of detailing the various repetitive actions that are performed in making a product or
providing a service, classifying them as value-added and
non-value-added, and devising ways of minimizing or eliminating
non-value-added activities

Activity-based budgeting

A method of budgeting that develops budgets based on expected activities and cost drivers – see also activity-based costing.

activity-based budgeting (ABB)

planning approach applying activity drivers to estimate the levels and costs of activities necessary to provide the budgeted quantity and
quality of production

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Activity-based costing

A method of costing that uses cost pools to accumulate the cost of significant business activities and then assigns the costs from the cost pools to products or services based on cost drivers.

activity based costing (ABC)

A relatively new method advocated for the
allocation of indirect costs. The key idea is to classify indirect costs,
many of which are fixed in amount for a period of time, into separate
activities and to develop a measure for each activity called a cost driver.
The products or other functions in the business that benefit from the
activity are allocated shares of the total indirect cost for the period based
on their usage as measured by the cost driver.

activity-based costing (ABC)

a process using multiple cost drivers to predict and allocate costs to products and services;
an accounting system collecting financial and operational
data on the basis of the underlying nature and extent
of business activities; an accounting information and
costing system that identifies the various activities performed
in an organization, collects costs on the basis of
the underlying nature and extent of those activities, and
assigns costs to products and services based on consumption
of those activities by the products and services

Activity-based costing (ABC)

A cost allocation system that compiles costs and assigns
them to activities based on relevant activity drivers. The cost of these activities can
then be charged to products or customers to arrive at a much more relevant allocation
of costs than was previously the case.

activity-based management (ABM)

a discipline that focuses on the activities incurred during the production/performance process as the way to improve the value received
by a customer and the resulting profit achieved by providing
this value

activity center

a segment of the production or service
process for which management wants to separately report
the costs of the activities performed

activity driver

a measure of the demands on activities and,
thus, the resources consumed by products and services;
often indicates an activity’s output

Adjusted Cash Flow Provided by Continuing Operations

Cash flow provided by operating
activities adjusted to provide a more recurring, sustainable measure. Adjustments to reported cash
provided by operating activities are made to remove such nonrecurring cash items as: the operating
component of discontinued operations, income taxes on items classified as investing or financing activities, income tax benefits from nonqualified employee stock options, the cash effects of purchases and sales of trading securities for nonfinancial firms, capitalized expenditures, and other nonrecurring cash inflows and outflows.

Allocation base A measure of activity or volume such as labour

hours, machine hours or volume of production
used to apportion overheads to products and

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Allowance for bad debts

An offset to the accounts receivable balance, against which
bad debts are charged. The presence of this allowance allows one to avoid severe
changes in the period-to-period bad debt expense by expensing a steady amount to
the allowance account in every period, rather than writing off large bad debts to
expense on an infrequent basis.

Allowance for doubtful accounts

A contra account related to accounts receivable that represents the amounts that the company expects will not be collected.

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

An estimate of the uncollectible portion of accounts receivable
that is subtracted from the gross amount of accounts receivable to arrive at the estimated collectible

Allowance method

A method of adjusting accounts receivable to the amount that is expected to be collected based on company experience.

Annualized holding period return

The annual rate of return that when compounded t times, would have
given the same t-period holding return as actually occurred from period 1 to period t.

Annuity Period

The time between each payment under an annuity.

Asset activity ratios

Ratios that measure how effectively the firm is managing its assets.

Average Amortization Period

The average useful life of a company's collective amortizable asset base.

Average Collection Period

Average number of days necessary to receive cash for the sale of
a company's products. It is calculated by dividing the value of the
accounts receivable by the average daily sales for the period.

Average collection period, or days' receivables

The ratio of accounts receivables to sales, or the total
amount of credit extended per dollar of daily sales (average AR/sales * 365).

Blow-off top

A steep and rapid increase in price followed by a steep and rapid drop. This is an indicator seen
in charts and used in technical analysis of stock price and market trends.

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business-value-added activity

an activity that is necessary for the operation of the business but for which a customer would not want to pay

Capital Consumption Allowance

See depreciation.

Capital Cost Allowance (CCA)

The annual depreciation expense allowed by the Canadian Income Tax Act.

Capital Flows

Purchase by foreigners of our assets (capital inflows) or our purchase of foreign assets (capital outflows).

capital recovery

Refers to recouping, or regaining, invested capital over
the life of an investment. The pattern of period-by-period capital recovery
is very important. In brief, capital recovery is the return of capital—
not the return on capital, which refers to the rate of earnings on the
amount of capital invested during the period. The returns from an
investment have to be sufficient to provide for both recovery of capital
and an adequate rate of earnings on unrecovered capital period by
period. Sorting out how much capital is recovered each period is relatively
easy if you use a spreadsheet model for capital investment analysis.
In contrast, using a mathematical method of analysis does not
provide this period-by-period capital recovery information, which is a
major disadvantage.

Cash delivery

The provision of some futures contracts that requires not delivery of underlying assets but
settlement according to the cash value of the asset.

Cash flow

In investments, it represents earnings before depreciation , amortization and non-cash charges.
Sometimes called cash earnings. Cash flow from operations (called funds from operations ) by real estate and
other investment trusts is important because it indicates the ability to pay dividends.

cash flow

An obvious but at the same time elusive term that refers to cash
inflows and outflows during a period. But the specific sources and uses
of cash flows are not clear in this general term. The statement of cash
flows, which is one of the three primary financial statements of a business,
classifies cash flows into three types: those from operating activities
(sales and expenses, or profit-making operations), those from
investing activities, and those from financing activities. Sometimes the
term cash flow is used as shorthand for cash flow from profit (i.e., cash
flow from operating activities).

cash flow

the receipt or disbursement of cash; when related
to capital budgeting, cash flows arise from the purchase,
operation, and disposition of a capital asset

Cash flow

Cash received and paid over time.

Cash Flow

In investments, NET INCOME plus DEPRECIATION and other noncash charges. In this sense, it is synonymous with CASH EARNINGS. Investors focus on cash flow from operations because of their concern with a firm's ability to pay dividends.

Cash flow after interest and taxes

Net income plus depreciation.

Cash-flow break-even point

The point below which the firm will need either to obtain additional financing
or to liquidate some of its assets to meet its fixed costs.

Cash flow coverage ratio

The number of times that financial obligations (for interest, principal payments,
preferred stock dividends, and rental payments) are covered by earnings before interest, taxes, rental
payments, and depreciation.

Cash Flow Forecast

An estimate of the timing and amount of a company's inflows and outflows of money measured over a specific period of time typically monthly for one to two years then annually for an additional one to three years.

cash flow from operating activities, or cash flow from profit

This equals the cash inflow from sales during the period minus the cash
outflow for expenses during the period. Keep in mind that to measure
net income, generally accepted accounting principles require the use of
accrual-basis accounting. Starting with the amount of accrual-basis net
income, adjustments are made for changes in accounts receivable,
inventories, prepaid expenses, and operating liabilities—and depreciation
expense is added back (as well as any other noncash outlay
expense)—to arrive at cash flow from profit, which is formally labeled
cash flow from operating activities in the externally reported statement
of cash flows.

Cash flow from operations

A firm's net cash inflow resulting directly from its regular operations
(disregarding extraordinary items such as the sale of fixed assets or transaction costs associated with issuing
securities), calculated as the sum of net income plus non-cash expenses that were deducted in calculating net

Cash flow matching

Also called dedicating a portfolio, this is an alternative to multiperiod immunization in
which the manager matches the maturity of each element in the liability stream, working backward from the
last liability to assure all required cash flows.

Cash flow per common share

Cash flow from operations minus preferred stock dividends, divided by the
number of common shares outstanding.

Cash Flow Provided by Operating Activities

With some exceptions, the cash effects of transactions
that enter into the determination of net income, such as cash receipts from sales of goods
and services and cash payments to suppliers and employees for acquisitions of inventory and

Cash Flow Provided or Used from Financing Activities

Cash receipts and payments involving
liability and stockholders' equity items, including obtaining cash from creditors and repaying
the amounts borrowed and obtaining capital from owners and providing them with a return on,
and a return of, their investments.

Cash Flow Provided or Used from Investing Activities

Cash receipts and payments involving
long-term assets, including making and collecting loans and acquiring and disposing of
investments and productive long-lived assets.


A statement that shows where a company’s cash came from and where it went for a period of time, such as a year.

Cash Flow statement

A financial report that shows the movement in cash for a business during an accounting period.

Cash flow time-line

Line depicting the operating activities and cash flows for a firm over a particular period.

Cash Flow–to–Income Ratio (CFI)

Adjusted cash flow provided by continuing operations
divided by adjusted income from continuing operations.


A section on the cash-flow statement that shows how much cash a company raised by selling stocks or bonds this year and how much was paid out for cash dividends and other finance-related obligations.


A section on the cashflow statement that shows how much cash came in and went out because of various investing activities like purchasing machinery.


A section on the cash-flow Stockholders’ equity statement that shows how much cash came into a company and how much went out during the normal course of business.

Circular Flow

Income payments to factors of production are spent to buy output. The receipts from these sales are used to pay factors of production, creating a circular flow of income.

Classical Macroeconomics

The school of macroeconomic thought prior to the rise of Keynesianism.

Compounding period

The length of the time period (for example, a quarter in the case of quarterly
compounding) that elapses before interest compounds.

compounding period

the time between each interest computation

Credit period

The length of time for which the customer is granted credit.

Critical Growth Periods

Times in a company's history when growth is essential and without which survival of the business might be in jeopardy.

Cyclical Unemployment

unemployment that increases when the economy enters a recession and decreases when the economy enters a boom.


The tender and receipt of an actual commodity or financial instrument in settlement of a futures contract.

Delivery notice

The written notice given by the seller of his intention to make delivery against an open, short
futures position on a particular date. Related: notice day

Delivery options

The options available to the seller of an interest rate futures contract, including the quality
option, the timing option, and the wild card option. Delivery options make the buyer uncertain of which
Treasury Bond will be delivered or when it will be delivered.

Delivery points

Those points designated by futures exchanges at which the financial instrument or
commodity covered by a futures contract may be delivered in fulfillment of such contract.

Delivery policy

A company’s stated goal for how soon a customer order will be
shipped following receipt of that order.

Delivery price

The price fixed by the Clearing house at which deliveries on futures are in invoiced; also the
price at which the futures contract is settled when deliveries are made.

Delivery versus payment

A transaction in which the buyer's payment for securities is due at the time of
delivery (usually to a bank acting as agent for the buyer) upon receipt of the securities. The payment may be
made by bank wire, check, or direct credit to an account.

Depreciation Allowances

Tax deductions that businesses can claim when they spend money on investment goods.

Discount period

The period during which a customer can deduct the discount from the net amount of the bill
when making payment.

Discounted cash flow

A technique that determines the present value of future cash
flows by applying a rate to each periodic cash flow that is derived from the cost of
capital. Multiplying this discount by each future cash flow results in an amount that
is the present value of all the future cash flows.

Discounted Cash Flow

Techniques for establishing the relative worth of a future investment by discounting (at a required rate of return) the expected net cash flows from the project.

Discounted cash flow (DCF)

Future cash flows multiplied by discount factors to obtain present values.

Discounted cash flow (DCF)

A method of investment appraisal that discounts future cash flows to present value using a discount rate, which is the risk-adjusted cost of capital.

discounted cash flow (DCF)

Refers to a capital investment analysis technique
that discounts, or scales down, the future cash returns from an
investment based on the cost-of-capital rate for the business. In essence,
each future return is downsized to take into account the cost of capital
from the start of the investment until the future point in time when the
return is received. Present value (PV) is the amount resulting from discounting
the future returns. Present value is subtracted from the entry
cost of the investment to determine net present value (NPV). The net
present value is positive if the present value is more than the entry cost,
which signals that the investment would earn more than the cost-ofcapital
rate. If the entry cost is more than the present value, the net
present value is negative, which means that the investment would earn
less than the business’s cost-of-capital rate.

Discounted payback period rule

An investment decision rule in which the cash flows are discounted at an
interest rate and the payback rule is applied on these discounted cash flows.

Discretionary cash flow

Cash flow that is available after the funding of all positive NPV capital investment
projects; it is available for paying cash dividends, repurchasing common stock, retiring debt, and so on.

Economic assumptions

economic environment in which the firm expects to reside over the life of the
financial plan.

economic components model

Abrams’ model for calculating DLOM based on the interaction of discounts from four economic components.
This model consists of four components: the measure of the economic impact of the delay-to-sale, monopsony power to buyers, and incremental transactions costs to both buyers and sellers.

Economic defeasance

See: in-substance defeasance.

Economic dependence

Exists when the costs and/or revenues of one project depend on those of another.

Economic earnings

The real flow of cash that a firm could pay out forever in the absence of any change in
the firm's productive capacity.

Economic exposure

The extent to which the value of the firm will change because of an exchange rate change.

Economic income

Cash flow plus change in present value.

economic integration

the creation of multi-country markets
by developing transnational rules that reduce the fiscal and
physical barriers to trade as well as encourage greater economic
cooperation among countries

Economic life

The period over which a company expects to be able to use an asset.

economic order quantity

Order size that minimizes total inventory costs.

Economic order quantity (EOQ)

The order quantity that minimizes total inventory costs.

economic order quantity (EOQ)

an estimate of the number
of units per order that will be the least costly and provide
the optimal balance between the costs of ordering
and the costs of carrying inventory

economic production run (EPR)

an estimate of the number
of units to produce at one time that minimizes the total
costs of setting up production runs and carrying inventory

Economic rents

Profits in excess of the competitive level.

Economic risk

In project financing, the risk that the project's output will not be salable at a price that will
cover the project's operating and maintenance costs and its debt service requirements.

Economic surplus

For any entity, the difference between the market value of all its assets and the market
value of its liabilities.

Economic union

An agreement between two or more countries that allows the free movement of capital,
labor, all goods and services, and involves the harmonization and unification of social, fiscal, and monetary

Economic Value Added (EVA)

Operating profit, adjusted to remove distortions caused by certain accounting rules, less a charge
to cover the cost of capital invested in the business.

economic value added (EVA)

a measure of the extent to which income exceeds the dollar cost of capital; calculated
as income minus (invested capital times the cost of capital percentage)

economic value added (EVA)

Term used by the consulting firm Stern Stewart for profit remaining after deduction of the cost
of the capital employed.

economically reworked

when the incremental revenue from the sale of reworked defective units is greater than
the incremental cost of the rework


The study of the allocation and distribution of scare resources among competing wants.







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