Financial Glossary – G
Gadfly – in business, it is somebody who comes to shareholders meetings and puts forward proposals the directors would rather avoid. We often refer to them as corporate gadflies. In lay English, a gadfly is a type of fly that irritates horses, cows, and other livestock. A gadfly is anybody who continuously annoys people so that they react.
Gaia Hypothesis – a hypotheses that suggests that planet Earth is much more than just the third rock from the Sun. The theory, put forward by James Lovelock in the 1960s, suggests that Earth behaves like a giant, self-regulating cell. It is a living system that greatly affects the chemistry and conditions of our planet.
Gains Sharing – a system that companies use to boost productivity and reduce waste. Workers get bonuses when their productivity improves. We also call it gainsharing, gain share, or gainshare. It is not the same as profit sharing, which depends entirely on profits. Gains sharing depends on worker productivity.
Gallon – a unit of liquid volume. An American gallon equals 0.83 of a British (imperial) gallon. One American gallon equals 3.78 liters while a British gallon equals 4.55 liters. The term emerged in the English language as a measure for liquids in the thirteenth century.
Galvanized Steel – if you coat regular steel with zinc you get galvanized steel. Galvanizing makes the steel more resistant to corrosion, i.e., rust.
Gambling – the act or practice of betting money on a likely or unlikely outcome. Most people bet with money. However, your stake could be anything, even the shirt on your back! The verb is to gamble. An individual who gambles is a gambler.
Game Changer – a new factor, either a person or thing, that changes the variables in an activity or environment. For example, a game changer in a sports match turned the losing team into the winning team. The Internet was a game changer in the world of retailing and business in general. In fact, the Internet has changed how we live our everyday lives.
Games of Chance – games that depend more on chance (luck) than skill. People bet on most games of chance. A game of chance that involves money is a gamble.
Game Theory – the study of how we and others make decisions of strategy in situations. It is the formal study of cooperation and conflict. Game theory is a branch of mathematics that is concerned with the analysis of strategies humans use for dealing with competitive situations where one individual’s outcome depends critically on actions taken by other individuals. It is a game of strategy and not chance.
Gamification – the practice of adding game-like elements to non-game situations. The game like elements make otherwise mundane and uninteresting tasks exciting and engaging.
Gantt Chart – a horizontal bar chart that most project managers use. Apart from telling us when each task starts and ends, it shows its duration. In fact, some charts are bursting with data. Project managers, supervisors, and other participants like Gantt charts because they can see the whole project’s activities ‘at a glance.’
Gap Analysis – a tool that compares a company’s current state with its future state. Specifically, a future state it desires. We also call it a need-gap analysis, needs assessment, or needs analysis. The ‘gap’ is the difference between a business’ current and target state.
Gap in the Market – demand for a product that does not exist yet. The term may also refer to a product that does exist, but it would sell better if it were upgraded. If a product exists but it is not for sale in a specific market, there is a gap in the market. However, in this last case, there is a gap only if there is demand for the product in that other market.
Gap Management – managing assets and liabilities so that income from interest-earning investments offset increases in loan repayments. Increases in loan repayments may occur if interest rates go up.
Gap Ratio – the ratio of a business’ rate-sensitive assets to rate-sensitive liabilities. A gap ratio of more than one means that sensitive assets are worth more than sensitive liabilities. ‘Sensitive’ refers to an asset’s or liability’s vulnerability to significant changes in value when interest rates change. There is also the poverty gap ratio, income gap ratio, and wealth gap ratio.
Garbage – refers to stuff we throw away. We also use the words rubbish, trash, refuse, and waste with the same meaning. If I think that a person’s statement is completely wrong or untrue, I might say “That is garbage.”
Gas Field – a deposit that is rich in natural gas that we can extract profitably. Since the turn of the century, when the price of natural gas rose, many gas fields have become commercially viable. A gas field may be onshore or offshore.
Gasohol – a gasoline-ethanol blend. Gasohol is approximately nine parts gasoline to one part ethanol (ethyl alcohol). The fuel became more popular when oil prices rose in the 1970s. However, it never caught on in a big way.
Gasoline – a transparent liquid that we use as fuel for our vehicles. Gasoline is highly flammable. It is a derivative of petroleum or crude oil. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, people say ‘petrol.’ Gasoline floats in water.
Gateway – in information technology, the term refers to hardware or software that connect disparate devices or systems. The term also means the area where a gate is; as a doorway is the area where a door is. If I say “New York is the gateway to the United States,” I mean it is the point through which you may enter the US.
Gazelle Company – a company that is young and grew by at least 20% annually for four consecutive years. Specifically, its sales and number of workers grew rapidly. We can call them either gazelle companies or simply gazelles. Most of them started with sales of at least $1 million.
GDP Gap – or output gap is the difference between a country’s actual GDP and its potential GDP. If unemployment is high, output would be greater if everybody had a job. The GDP gap is the difference between current national output with high unemployment and output with full employment. The GDP gap may be a positive number, negative number, or zero. Governments and central banks aim for zero.
GDP Per Capita – is the GDP per head of a population. To get the per capita figure, you divide gross domestic product (GDP) by the country’s total population. GDP per capita tells us how wealthy a country’s citizens are in comparison to other nations. GDP on its own does not give us that information.
Gearing – the term refers to borrowing money to then make more money. Gearing also represents the proportion of a company’s equity capital that came from loans.
GECF – stands for Gas Exporting Countries Forum. It is a group of countries that represent more than 70% of worldwide natural gas production. There are twelve members and a number of observer members.
Gemology – the study of natural and artificial gemstones and gemstone materials. Gemology is a geoscience; a mineralogy branch. People who study gemology are gemologists; they value, buy/sell, and cut precious stones.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) – these are the standard rules and guidelines for accounting. GAAP is also referred to as standard accounting practice or accounting standards. They are a series of rules on how financial statements should be prepared.
Generally Recognized Accounting Practice – or GRAP is a set of rules, regulations, and guidelines for public sector accountants. It is the public sector equivalent of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). The term ‘GRAP’ is common in South Africa.
General Equilibrium – an economic state in which demand and supply are in perfect harmony, i.e. one equals the other, they are in balance. Also known as Walrasian general equilibrium, it is a state that economists say we can never attain, but should set as our goal. It contrasts with partial equilibrium, where demand and supply are equal in only a part of the economy, in a certain market.
Generalization – refers to jumping to conclusions. The act of using very little evidence to make broad conclusions. People who generalize say that something is true all the time when it is only true some of the time.
General Ledger – a chronological account record that an entity uses to keep track of financial transactions, including income and expenses. Also known as ‘the book of final entry’. Transactions are categorized and posted into the general ledger account.
General Manager – somebody who is responsible for a whole business, if it is small, or a specific area of a large business. General managers are further down the management ladder than Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) or Managing Directors. For example, a general manager in McDonald’s is in charge of one restaurant, while its CEO is in charge of the whole company.
General Strike – a strike that affects all or most sectors of the economy and a large geographical area. A general strike may affect a city, country, state, or even the whole country. Major general strikes bring the whole country to a standstill.
Generative Learning – a theory that involves incorporating new information with knowledge that we had already stored in our long-term memory. In other words, new data must attach itself to our existing knowledge.
Generational Accounting – a method that looks at government spending and how it may affect current and future generations. Specifically, generations of taxpayers. In other words, it determines whether future taxpayers will carry an unfair burden.
Generation Gap – the difference between generations in how they dress, talk, perceive things, behave, vote, etc. Sociologists say that misunderstandings between difference age groups is a cause of many arguments.
Generation Jones – people born between 1954 and 1965. Some people say the starting date was 1954. We also call it the Lost Generation. Sociologists initially lumped Genjonesers with Baby Boomers. Eventually, they recognized Generation Jones as a distinct generation. Genjonesers are more cynical than the idealistic Baby Boomers.
Generation X – people born from 1965 to the late 1970s. We also call the generation Gen X. Generation X members are Gen Xers. There is a stereotype perception that they are cynical, directionless, and disaffected. Some people dub them the MTV Generation.
Generation Y – refers to people born from the early to mid-1980s to the early part of this century. Some people refer to it as Gen Y, the Boomerang Generation, the Millennial Generation, or the Echo Boomers. They are more self-absorbed and cossetted than their predecessors.
Generic – either refers to goods that companies sell with no brand name or trademark, or characteristics related to a whole class of goods. Generic drugs, for example, compete with brand name drugs. Generic products are cheaper than brand name goods.
Generic appeal – an advertising strategy that promotes a product’s group or category rather than the product itself. For example, a company that sells broccoli that wants to increase sales to children may first encourage them to eat vegetables. When vegetable consumption has increased significantly, it then promotes its own brands.
Genesis Block – the first block in a blockchain. The first ever genesis block was mined in 2009 when the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was born. Blocks are records which are linked to each other to form a blockchain. They all have data from the block preceding them, except for the genesis block. The genesis block has no data from a preceding block because it is the first one in the chain, i.e., it has no block before it.
Genetically Modified Food – or GM refers to food whose source has been genetically modified or altered. For example, GM beef comes from cattle that has been genetically engineered, i.e., scientists have tweaked their genetic codes. GM food is a controversial topic. Some people say it is safer for consumers and better for farmers. Others, however, claim it is bad for our health and the environment.
Genetic Engineering – refers to the direct manipulation of DNA to change an organism’s phenotype (characteristics) in specific ways. Scientists can genetically engineer fish, mammals including humans, birds, and even plants. In future, geneticists say that we will be able to eradicate illnesses that people inherit from their parents.
Gentleman’s Agreement – or Gentlemen’s Agreement is an informal, oral, non-binding agreement between at least two parties. The agreement relies on the personal honor of each party for its fulfillment. If one of the parties breaks the agreement, you cannot (in most cases) sue them.
Gentrification – occurs when a deteriorating part of town has money spent on it or there is an influx of well-off people. The area becomes ‘nicer,’ more desirable, and more expensive. We often use the term with a derogatory meaning. Gentrification sometimes results in the displacement of low-income families.
Geothermal Energy – using the Earth’s internal heat to generate electricity and heat homes and buildings. We have been using geothermal energy for thousands of years. Most of Iceland’s electricity comes from geothermal energy.
Giffen Goods – products for which demand grows when they go up in price. In the vast majority of cases, a rise in prices is followed by a fall in demand – not Giffen goods. Giffen goods are ‘inferior products’ – usually staple foods for poor people, such as rice in Asia, tortillas in Mexico, and bread in Victorian Europe. The term was named after Sir Robert Giffen, a Scottish economist and statistician.
Gift – this is a present that one person gives to another. The word can also mean a special talent that somebody has. For example “John has a gift for music.” In business, there are some rules regarding the giving and receiving of gifts. The rules depend on the jurisdiction and industry.
Gig Economy – where employers hire freelancers, part-timers and short-term contract workers instead of permanent, full-time employees. In a gig economy, finding a job for life is extremely difficult. Since the 2009 global financial crisis, most countries in North America and Western Europe have drifted towards gig economies. Economists believe this trend will continue. A person whose work consists mainly of gig work is known as a gig worker.
GIGO – acronym for ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ It is a mathematics and computer science concept that the quality of the data going in determines the quality of what comes out. If you feed garbage into a computer, it will produce garbage, or faulty data.
Gilts – bonds that the British government issues. They are the equivalent of American Treasury securities. We also call them gilt-edged securities. When the British government needs to borrow money, the Bank of England issues gilts.
Gilt-Edged Securities – bonds that either governments or very solid, reliable, top-quality companies issue. They issue them to raise money, i.e., borrow money. In the UK and Commonwealth, the term usually refers to government bonds, unless otherwise stipulated.
Gini Index – a way of comparing income or wealth distribution between countries. We also call it the Gini Coefficient. Economists and statisticians also use it to measure consumption expenditure distribution.
Glamour Stocks – company shares that many investors believe will rise in value more rapidly than the rest of the market. The financial press tends to view glamour stocks favorably. However, sometimes there is too much hype, and when their glamour fades, they crash.
Global Analyst Research Settlement – a fund that investment firms in the US had to create following the 2003 mutual fund scandal. US investment banks had aided and abetted instances of investor fraud. The aim of the fund was to educate consumers and retail investors about finance and investing.
Global Economy – the term either refers to the total size of the economy of the world, or the way countries’ economies have become interdependent. In other words, we use the term when talking about global GDP or how what happens in one country affects many others. Hence the phrase “We live in a global economy.”
Global Financial Crisis – a financial crisis or economic meltdown that affects the whole world, rather than just one country. Typically, banks stop lending, businesses go bust, and consumer spending declines significantly. Many banks cannot cope and the taxpayer has to bail them out. Global financial crises often precede recessions.
Global Fund – a mutual fund (UK: unit trust) that invests all over the world, including the investor’s home country. An International Fund, on the other hand, invests globally but not in the investor’s home country. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates founded, it also known as The Global Fund.
Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) – guidelines and regulations for investment firms. Investment firms in thirty-seven countries across the world adhere to the GIPS standards. Hence, investors have access to reliable performance data.
Globalization – the process by which companies and organizations start operating across borders and develop influence internationally. The term also refers to the transmission of values, ideas, and meanings across the world (cultural globalization).
Global Marketing – the effective planning, producing, placing and promoting of goods and services in the worldwide market. Ever since the arrival of the Internet and e-commerce, global marketing has become crucial for many companies. Today, even small businesses are selling globally.
Global Positioning System (GPS) – a network of satellites that send precise signals regarding their position as they orbit the Earth. GPS receivers obtain the signals. We use the receivers to calculate the precise position, speed, and time of things such as vehicles, ships, missiles, etc.
Global Recession – a period of general economic decline that affects many countries in different regions of the world. Either global GDP growth has slowed down significantly, is at zero, or is shrinking. The IMF says that the definition of a global recession must include a decline in capital flows, oil consumption, industrial production, and trade. It adds that there must also be rising unemployment. These macroeconomic indicators are in addition to a general slowdown in the worldwide economy.
Global Sourcing – the practice of sourcing (seeking and obtaining) from the global market for products and services across national borders. Companies opt for global sourcing when they wish to exploit global efficiencies in the delivery of products or services.
Global Strategy – a strategy that an organization creates when it wishes to compete and expand in other countries. It is a strategy that companies pursue when they want to operate beyond their borders.
Global Warming – the consistent rise in the average temperatures of our atmosphere and oceans. These temperatures are rising at progressively accelerating rates. If we do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we will have a serious problem by the end of this century.
Global Warming Potential (GWP) – a measure of the amount of energy one ton of atmospheric gas absorbs compared to carbon dioxide over a specific period. In other words, GWP tells us how much heat a gas traps in the atmosphere.
Gloss – can be a verb or noun and has many meanings. (Verb) it can mean to apply a glossy substance to a surface, as well as disguising an unfavorable topic by talking about it very quickly. (Noun) it is a luster that we apply to a surface, as well as something that seems superficially attractive, but, in fact, is not. We also use the term when referring to a glossary.
Glossary – a list of words plus their meanings. Often, the words in a glossary are technical or specialized terms. For example, a banking glossary has words plus their meanings specific to the banking sector. Glossaries also appear at the end of articles and books. They contain lists of unfamiliar or difficult words that the author used.
Glut – the term means an oversupply; when the supply of a good or service far exceeds demand. When there is a glut, prices fall, stock levels (inventories) rise, and sometimes employers lay off workers. As a verb, the word means to satisfy an appetite, feed excessively, or overindulge.
Goal – in business it describes where or how a company hopes to be at a specific future date. The term, unlike an ‘objective,’ does not specify the steps the company will take to get there. Companies usually list their goals and objectives in their business plan.
Godfather offer – this is a tender offer a corporate raider makes during a hostile takeover attempt. The offer is too good to turn down. The bidder has offered to purchase shares from the target company’s shareholders with a very high premium, i.e. well above market prices. The term comes from The Godfather, a book and movie in which Corleone said “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.’
Going concern – a company that is currently active and is profitable. In other words, it is thriving. ‘Going concern’ is a term that accountants use. They expect the company to be active and doing well at least for the next twelve months. A going concern has not gone bankrupt or sold off its assets (liquidated its assets).
Going Forward – a relatively new term that means ‘from this point on’ or ‘from now on.’ It suggests that from now on, there will be a different approach or behavior. Many people dislike the term; they say it has no meaning.
Gold – a precious metal that serves as a store of wealth and a form of investment. Humans have been investing in gold, and using it in jewelry, art and coin-making for thousands of years.
Golden Handshake – money, stocks, or other benefits that an employee gets when leaving the company. When executives must leave, the golden handshake may be considerable. In fact, some have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars, end even billions. The golden handshake may be a reward for years of faithful service, while on other occasions it may be an attempt to prevent problems. For example, if the company wants somebody to leave without a fuss, they may offer a generous financial incentive.
Gold Rush – an onrush of prospectors seeking their fortune after word gets out that somebody found gold. When many people come to one area aiming to get rich by finding gold, we have a gold rush. There were many gold rushes in the 19th century.
Gold Standard – a system by which a currency’s value is defined in terms of gold. Most countries abandoned the system during the Great Depression (1930s). The United States, however, hung on until the 1970s. The system contrasts with a floating exchange rate. Both systems have their pros and cons.
Goodhart’s Law – a theory that states that when a measure becomes a target, it stops being a good measure. The theory was introduced by Prof. Charles Goodhart in the 1970s. Put simply, it means that when the central bank, for example, takes measures, businesses and people often find another way. In other words, they circumvent the measure.
Good Laboratory Practice – or GLP refers to accepted methods that researchers must adhere to when working in a laboratory. GLP aims to ensure safety, reliability, and high quality standards. We can also say the term in the plural, i.e., Good Laboratory Practices.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – a system for ensuring that foods, drugs, and medical devices are produced and controlled according to quality standards. It is a set of guidelines and rules that manufacturers and sellers must follow.
Good Offices – refers to the influence and power a person or his/her position has. We use the term when that influence is used to help another person, people, or organization(s). For example, the UN Secretary-General used his good offices to persuade a head of state to sign the agreement.
Goodness of Fit – a term that statisticians use. It refers to how accurate the expected values of a financial model are in comparison to their actual values. Psychologists and parenting experts also use the term when talking about a person’s temperament and their compatibility with their environment.
Goods – 1. Things we make for consumers to buy (consumer goods) or things we buy to make other things (capital goods). 2. Our possessions, as in “There are all my worldly goods.” 3. Carrying cargo rather than passengers, as in “A goods train.”
Good Standing – refers to any entity that is current with the state’s, government’s, association’s, or agency’s obligations. A person in good standing is somebody who has the respect of other members of the community.
Good Til-Canceled (GTC) Order – an order to exchange a security at a specified price. The order is open until it is completed or cancelled. With a GTC order, the brokerage company does not usually hold the order for longer than 90 days.
Goodwill – in business the term refers to the established reputation of a commercial enterprise as a quantifiable asset and calculated as part of its total value. When the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts, the difference is the company’s goodwill. If the book value of a company is $10 billion, but a predator offers $12 billion to acquire it, the $2 billion premium is the goodwill value.
Go Public – when a private company turns into a publicly listed company, or a public company. Public company shares are traded on a recognized stock exchange. When a company goes public it carries out an IPO (initial public offering).
Government – 1. The process or manner of governing a nation or a system we use for controlling a country. 2. A group of people who run a country and make decisions at national level.
Government National Mortgage Association – commonly called Ginnie Mae or GNMA, is a US government-owned corporation set up in 1968 to expand home ownership across the nation. It guarantees investors the timely payment of principal and interest on mortgage-backed securities.
Government Shutdown – occurs when the US Congress cannot approve a new budget to finance the federal government and its agencies. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are laid off without pay (furloughed). The USA is the only advanced economy that has government shutdowns.
Grace period – the amount of time someone has to meet an obligation after its deadline with little or no penalty.
Graduated Payment Mortgage Loan (GPM) – a mortgage that initially offers low monthly payments that gradually increase over time to a set level. This type of loan is appealing for younger borrowers who do not earn much at the moment, but expect their salaries to increase over time.
Grant – money given by an organization, local authority, national government, charity or individual for a specific purpose. It is different from a loan because the receiver does not have to pay it back. Grants are typically awarded for research, study, home improvements, to expand or improve a community project, or to set up a business. The verb ‘to grant’ has several meanings, including to give, accept, take as a given, because, or accept that something is true. It is also the first name and surname of some people.
Graphene – the strongest, thinnest and lightest material in the world that we know of. It is about two hundred times stronger than the strongest steel. It is also the best conductor of electricity and heat on Earth. It is a single layer of pure carbons arranged in a honeycomb, hexagonal lattice pattern. It is so incredibly thin it is considered to be a 2D object.
GRAS – stands for Generally Recognized As Safe. It is a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designation for substances that we add to food. Thousands of additional substances exist in many of our foods. The FDA determines whether or not to give each one a GRAS status.
Gray Market – (British: Grey Market) a market in which the distribution channels are unauthorized. In the securities market, the term may refer to trading before the official trading of a new stock begins. In marketing, a market dominated by consumers aged 60+ years.
Great Depression – the most severe economic downturn to hit the USA and the world in modern history. Over a three-year period, global GDP shrank by 15%. Unemployment in the US reached 20% of its population (15 million).
Great Recession – the longest period of economic decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s for many countries. From 2007/8 to the end of 2009, many countries experienced negative GDP growth.
Greenhouse Gas – an atmospheric gas that absorbs and emits radiation, i.e., it keeps the planet’s surface warm. Carbon dioxide and methane, for example, are greenhouse gases. There is a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Gresham’s Law – a monetary principle that says that when there are two forms of money, people hoard the more valuable one and use the cheaper one to buy things. Imagine there were $5 coins and they were all made of gold. Then the government started to issue $5 coins made of steel. People would hold onto the gold ones and use just the steel ones for transactions. It would not be long before there were no gold coins in circulation at all – that is Gresham’s law. The term is named after Sir Thomas Gresham, who was financial adviser to Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century.
GRID – stands for Global Resource Information Database. It is part of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) that focuses on earth processes and the sound management of the environment. GRID works at global, regional, and national levels.
Growing Equity Mortgage – a type of mortgage loan which has a fixed rate interest rate and monthly payments that rise over time – there is never a negative amortization associated with this loan. The first payment is an amortizing payment.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a measure of production that is equal to the all the goods and services that an economy produces within a set time period. GDP data are followed very closely by economists, investors and governments.
Gross National Product (GNP) – a measurement of the value of all final goods and services that a country produces, in addition to the income earned by its citizens (excluding income that foreigners make in the country’s economy). Often confused with GDP, which is quite different.
Gross Income – all income that an entity makes (no matter the source). It represents how much income is generated before taxes. The term can refer to corporations or individuals.
Growth Investing – an investment strategy that prioritizes capital appreciation, rather than annual income. It contrasts with value investing. The person is a growth investor.
GST – stands for General Systems Theory. it is a theory that proposes that complex systems all share several basic organizing principles. They share these principles regardless of their purposes. GST concentrates on the structure rather than the function of systems.
GSTP – stands for Global System of Trade Preferences. It is a preferential trade agreement between emerging economies and LDCs (less developed countries). The founding member nations signed the Agreement in 1988. In most cases, it involves either lifting or reducing tariffs on imports. LDCs do not have to reciprocate.
Guaranteed Investment Contract (GIC) – also known as a ‘funding agreement’. It is a contract that instructs the repayment of the principal and a floating or fixed interest rate for a set period of time.
Guaranteed Mortgage Certificate (GMC) – a bond that is backed up financially by a mortgage. GMCs have been issued by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) since 1975. It has a guaranteed average life, and interest and principal are paid twice a year.
Guest Worker – somebody who works in another country for a limited period. Guest workers are neither immigrants nor illegal workers. They have permission to work in the other country temporarily. When their contract terminates, they return to their home country.