Relevant accounting and financial concepts

Paul Newson

Although this book, as far as is possible, attempts to address the area of interest rate and other market risks from first principles, and presumes little or no prior knowledge on the part of the reader, there are nevertheless a few underlying accounting and financial concepts about which some knowledge is required. This chapter therefore aims to inform those readers who are new to these concepts or wish to re-familiarise themselves with them.

The chapter will provide a brief overview of:

    • the meaning of discounted cashflow (DCF) and its use to compute the present value (PV) of a future cashflow;

    • the difference between accrual accounting and mark-to-market (MTM) accounting;

    • what determines the level of interest rates for different maturities, and hence the shape of the yield curve; and

    • some of the principal wholesale financial instruments that are mentioned in later chapters.


Consider a situation in which you are offered the choice between receiving £1,000 in one year’s time or £960 now. Assume that the person offering this choice was absolutely guaranteed to pay out in either circumstance – ie, there was no danger of

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