Talking the Talk

This fall, Webster released its first guide to business terms. Can you talk the talk?
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Know a clawback from a buyback? This fall, Webster released its first guide to business terms, with more than 3,500 entries ranging from economic colloquialisms to short bios of folks such as John Maynard Keynes and Eliot Spitzer. Author Barbara Etzel lists among her favorite jargon: "graveyard market" (a bear market where investors don't sell because they don't want to incur losses), "fallen angel" (an investment-grade bond that has fallen to junk status), and "greater fool theory" (the theory that a bad investment can still be sold later to a "greater fool"). Below are other tidbits from Webster's New World Finance and Investment Dictionary.

claw-back n. A term in partnership agreements...that requires venture capitalists to refund fees to their investors if it turns out that the [VCs] received more than their 20% share of a fund's overall profits.

cook-ie jar ac-count-ing n. [S]etting aside reserves during good years and using the reserves during unprofitable years. This makes earnings appear more even and helps create the impression of consistency, which investors are keen to see.

dead-hand poi-son pill n. A technique used to fight unwanted takeover attempts that dilutes the stock holdings of an unwanted acquirer [by granting additional shares of stock to directors, making] it that much harder for the unwanted acquirer to gain control of the company. It is a controversial provision that has been challenged in some states.

Dig-i-tal Pearl Har-bor n. A concern, which is so far unfounded, that computer hackers or terrorists could illegally gain access to a computer system and wreak national or even global havoc.

gray knight n. A potential acquirer who outbids a white knight in an unfriendly takeover attempt. A white knight is a person who is asked to acquire a company as an alternative to an unwanted black knight, who is the investor initiating a hostile takeover bid. The new bidder, the gray knight, is not as preferable as the white knight, however, the gray knight is still a better option than the black knight.

pru-dent-man rule n. A legal securities standard that asks the question "What would a prudent man do?" in order to determine whether an action was reasonable or whether it violated fiduciary duties.

shrink-age n. The difference between inventory that a company believes it has on hand and what the actual physical count reveals the company has.

Last updated: Dec 1, 2003




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