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Market Guides > Present value

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Published: 18th September 2009 by William Webster

A dollar paid to you now is worth more than one paid to you in the future. Why? Because if you had a dollar now you could invest it and earn interest. Simple enough but exactly how much is money worth today when it is paid in the future? To answer that you need to know about discounting.

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Document Summary

Discount factors, example. What changes discount factors. Practical application. Mark-to-market values. Interest rates and effect of credit risk on present value.

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19th September 2009

Present value (PV) calculations are commonly used in financial markets. They are particularly relevant to over-the-counter derivatives. Their use includes pricing and marking-to-market transactions. PV uses a discount factor to convert future money into today's money. The sum of any deal's cash flows in present value terms is referred to as the net present value (NPV). From a dealer's perspective this is important. Transactions with positive NPVs equate to profit and those with negative NPVs losses. The following is an introductory explanation to zero coupon discount factors. The examples use USD rates where the instruments pay interest on an actual/360 day count basis.