Trading Book

Definition of 'Trading Book'


The portfolio of financial instruments held by a brokerage or bank. Financial instruments in a trading book are purchased or sold to facilitate trading for the institution's customers, to profit from trading spreads between the bid and ask prices, or to hedge against various types of risk. Trading books can range in size from hundreds of thousands of dollars at the smallest institutions to tens of billions at the largest financial institutions. Most institutions employ sophisticated risk metrics to manage and mitigate risk in their trading books.

Investopedia explains 'Trading Book'


The trading book has been the source of massive losses for a number of financial institutions in recent years. Such losses often arise because of extremely high degrees of leverage employed by an institution to build the trading book. Another source of trading book losses is disproportionate, highly concentrated wagers on specific securities or market sectors by errant or rogue traders.

Trading book losses can have a cascading, global effect when they hit numerous financial institutions at the same time, such as during the LTCM/Russian debt crisis of 1998, and the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008. In fact, the global credit crunch and financial crisis of 2008 was significantly attributable to the hundreds of billions of losses sustained by global investment banks in the mortgage-backed securities portfolios held within their trading books.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Marginal Analysis

    An examination of the additional benefits of an activity compared to the additional costs of that activity. Companies use marginal analysis as a decision-making tool to help them maximize their profits. Individuals unconsciously use marginal analysis to make a host of everyday decisions. Marginal analysis is also widely used in microeconomics when analyzing how a complex system is affected by marginal manipulation of its comprising variables.
  2. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities - TIPS

    A treasury security that is indexed to inflation in order to protect investors from the negative effects of inflation. TIPS are considered an extremely low-risk investment since they are backed by the U.S. government and since their par value rises with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, while their interest rate remains fixed.
  3. Gilt-Edged Switching

    The selling and repurchasing of certain high-grade stocks or bonds to capture profits. Gilt-edged switching involves gilt-edged security, which can be high-grade stock or bond issued by a financially stable company such as the Blue Chip companies or by certain governments.
  4. Master Limited Partnership - MLP

    A type of limited partnership that is publicly traded. There are two types of partners in this type of partnership: The limited partner is the person or group that provides the capital to the MLP and receives periodic income distributions from the MLP's cash flow, whereas the general partner is the party responsible for managing the MLP's affairs and receives compensation that is linked to the performance of the venture.
  5. Class Action

    An action where an individual represents a group in a court claim. The judgment from the suit is for all the members of the group (class).
  6. Retail Sales

    An aggregated measure of the sales of retail goods over a stated time period, typically based on a data sampling that is extrapolated to model an entire country. In the U.S., the retail sales report is a monthly economic indicator compiled and released by the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce.
Trading Center