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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Webster

Financial Product Valuation: Part One-Valuation of Liquid Assets

In the world of finance, the valuation of financial products is a cornerstone of trading and investing. It's a process that oscillates between simplicity and complexity, objectivity and subjectivity. This variability is not just an academic concern; it feeds directly into the practical realms of business, impacting everything from profit and loss accounts to capital ratios.


The Essence of Valuation

Valuation is integral to financial decision-making. Whether for a trader analyzing potential gains or a corporate executive assessing the financial health of their enterprise, understanding the value of financial products is indispensable. This becomes even more vital when considering that these valuations influence key financial statements and ratios that drive strategic business decisions.


Simplicity in Methodology: Using Market Observables

In this series, we begin by exploring the most straightforward approach to valuation - utilizing market observables. Market observables are live, real-time, demonstrably tradeable prices. Their importance can't be overstated. These are not theoretical constructs or derived from opaque algorithms; they are tangible figures reflecting the current state of the market.


Illustrating with Examples

Consider financial instruments like liquid futures contracts, liquid foreign currencies, publicly traded stocks, and high-quality government bonds. These instruments share common characteristics: they are readily tradable, exhibit narrow bid-offer spreads, and their prices are publicly accessible, be it on trader screens or online platforms.


Practical Valuation Method

To value these instruments, one simply refers to the current market price. This approach offers a clear, traceable audit trail, ensuring accuracy and veracity in valuation. It's straightforward: locate the price feed, apply it to your held position, and voila - you have a market-reflective value.


This method not only allows for the calculation of the current value but also facilitates the comparison with the initial value at the time of trade or investment. This comparison yields the net profit or loss, or the return on investment, providing a clear financial picture.


A Caveat: Market Impact of Large Positions

However, there's a caveat. In instances where the position size is significantly large compared to the market, the act of buying or selling could potentially shift the market price unfavorably. This phenomenon, known as 'market impact,' is a crucial consideration in valuation.


That said, in deep and liquid markets, such concerns are often mitigated. The sheer volume and liquidity in these markets usually mean that even substantial positions are unlikely to materially sway market prices

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Conclusion: The Merits of Market-Based Valuation

This market-based valuation methodology stands out for its transparency and reliability. It is rooted in real-world dynamics, making it a robust tool for financial valuation. In our next articles, we will delve into more complex valuation methods, but understanding this foundational approach is key to grasping the broader landscape of financial product valuation.

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