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Unbiased expectations hypothesis: The hypothesis that forward exchange rates are unbiased predictors of future spot rates. (See forward parity.)
Unbiased Nature of the Forward Rate (UFR): States that the forward rate should reflect the expected future spot rate on the date of settlement of the forward contract.
Uncertainty avoidance: The extent to which a society tolerates uncertainty and ambiguity.
Uncertainty: Lack of information. Failure to know anything that may be relevant for an economic decision, such as future variables, details of a technology, or sales. In models, uncertainty usually appears as a random variable and corresponding probability density function. But in practice, most international models, especially of trade, assume certainty.
Uncovered interest parity: Equality of expected returns on otherwise comparable financial assets denominated in two currencies, without any cover against exchange risk. Uncovered interest parity requires approximately that i = i* + a where i is the domestic interest rate, i* the foreign interest rate and the expected appreciation of foreign currency at an annualized percentage rate.
Underemployment: The employment of workers for fewer hours or in less desirable jobs than they would prefer and are qualified for.
Under-invoicing: The provision of an invoice that states price as less than is actually being paid. This might be done on an import in order to reduce the amount that will be collected by an ad valorem tariff. Or it might be done on an export to reduce apparent profit and thus taxes.
Under-valued currency: The situation of a currency whose value on the exchange market is lower than is believed to be sustainable. This may be due to a pegged or managed rate that is below the market-clearing rate, or, under a floating rate, it may be due to speculative capital outflows. It contrasts with over-valued currency.
Underwriting syndicate: A temporary combination of investment banking firms formed to sell a new security issue.
Underwriting: Bearing the risk of not being able to sell a security at the established price by virtue of purchasing the security for resale to the public; also known as firm commitment underwriting. The act by investment bankers of purchasing securities from issuers for resale to the public.
Unemployment Rate: The ratio of the total number of unemployed persons to the total number of persons in the labor force. The ratio of unemployment to the labor force of a country.
Unequal exchange: Trade in which the labor used to produce a country's exports is more than the labor used to produce its imports, as in the exchange between low-wage developing countries and high-wage developed countries.
1. Under the GATT this refers only to exports that are subsidized or dumped
2. Under U.S. law, this also includes various actions that interfere with U.S. exports.
3. Also used to refer to any almost any trade that the speaker objects to, sometimes including that based on low wages or weak regulations.
Uniform Commercial Code: The model state legislation related to many aspects of commercial transactions that went into effect in Pennsylvania in 1954. It has been adopted with limited changes by most state legislatures.
Unit contribution margin: The amount of money available from each unit of sales to cover fixed operating costs and provide operating profits.
Unit elastic: Having an elasticity equal to one. For a price elasticity of demand, this means that expenditure remains constant as price changes. For income elasticity it means that expenditure share is constant. Homothetic preferences imply unit income elasticities. It contrasts with elastic and inelastic.
Unit isocost line: An isocost line along which cost is equal to one unit of the numeraire, such as one dollar.
Unit isoquant: The isoquant for a quantity equal to one unit of a good. The unit isoquant is useful for relating the price of a good to the prices of factors employed in its production.
Unit labor requirement: The amount of labor used per unit of output in an industry; the ratio of labor to output. In a Heckscher-Ohlin Model this varies along an isoquant as different techniques are chosen in response to different factor prices. But in a Ricardian model, these are the constant building blocks for defining comparative advantage and determining behavior.
Unit of account: A basic function of money, providing a unit of measurement for defining, recording, and comparing value. I.e., one dollar signifies not only a one dollar bill, but also a dollar's worth of money in other forms (deposits), of wealth in other forms than money, and of any good or service with a market value.
United Currency Options Market (UCOM): Market set up by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange in which to trade currencies.
United Nations Organizations: The complex and extensive system of organizations that exist under the umbrella of the United Nations. Several of these, like the WTO and the IMF, play critical roles in the international economy.
Unit-value isoquant: The isoquant for a quantity of a good worth one unit of value. This is meaningful only if the nominal price of the good is given, for some specified currency or numeraire. Unit-value isoquants are central to the Lerner diagram for analyzing the Heckscher-Ohlin Model.
Universal Banking: Bank practice, especially in Germany, whereby commercial banks perform not only investment banking activities equity positions in companies.
Unlevered beta (systematic business risk): The beta (or systematic risk) of a project as if it were financed with 100 percent equity.
Unlevered cost of equity: The discount rate appropriate for an investment assuming it is financed with 100 percent equity.
Unnatural trading bloc: A trading bloc among countries that are not natural trading partners.
Unsecured loans: A form of debt for money borrowed that is not backed by the pledge of specific assets.
Unskilled labor: Labor with a low level of skill or human capital. Identified empirically as labor earning a low wage, with a low level of education, or in an occupational category associated with these; sometimes crudely proxied as production workers.
Unsterilized Intervention: Foreign exchange market intervention in which the monetary authorities have not insulated their domestic money supplies from the foreign exchange transactions.
Unsustainable debt: A financial condition in which a country is unable to service its foreign (external) debt without decimating its economy.
Unsystematic (Diversifiable) Risk: Risks that are specific to a given firm, such as a strike. Risk that is specific to a particular security or country and that can be eliminated through diversification.
Unsystematic risk: The variability of return on stocks or portfolios not explained by general market movements. It is avoidable through diversification.
Up-and-In Option: An option that comes into existence if and only if the currency strengthens enough to cross a preset barrier.
Up-and-Out Option: An option that is canceled if the underlying currency strengthens beyond the outstrike.
Upstream subsidization: Export of a good one of whose inputs has been subsidized.
Usury: The practice of charging or paying exorbitant interest on a loan or other transaction. Note: in Islamic societies, charging or receiving any amount of interest is considered usury.
Utility function: A function that specifies the utility (usefulness, well being) of a consumer for all combinations goods consumed (and sometimes other considerations). It represents both their welfare and their risk preferences.
Utility possibility frontier: In a diagram with levels of individual utility on the axes, a curve showing the maximum attainable levels of utility in a given situation, such as free trade or autarky.
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1. Referring only to the characteristics of something being described, rather than exact numerical measurement.
2. Indicative only of relative sizes or magnitudes, rather than their numerical values. A qualitative comparison would say whether one thing is larger, smaller, or equal to another, without specifying the size of any difference. As opposed to quantitative.
Quantitative Restriction (QR): A restriction on trade, usually imports, limiting the quantity of the good or service that is traded; a quota is the most common example, but VERs usually take the form of QRs. QRs on traded services are more likely to restrict the number or activities of foreign service providers than the services themselves, since the latter are hard to monitor and measure.
Quantitative: Expressed in numerical values.
Quantity quota: A quota specifying quantity, in units, weight, volume, etc. of a good.
Quantity theory of money: The classic theory of the price level and therefore of inflation, building on the equation of exchange and the additional assumption that velocity of money is constant. Together, these imply that the rate of inflation equals the rate of growth of money minus the rate of growth of real output.
Quarter: One of the four three-month periods into which the calendar year is divided for the reporting of economic data.
Quartile: One of four segments of a distribution that has been divided into quarters. For example, the second-from-the-bottom quartile of an income distribution is those whose income exceeds the incomes of from 25% to 50% of the population.
Quasi-fiscal: Having to do with financial transactions of units that are not included in a government's budget but that have some of the same effects as fiscal policy. Most often mentioned as having quasi-fiscal effects are central banks.
Quid pro quo FDI: FDI in response to the threat of protection. Done by a firm who exports into the domestic market, the motive is to create jobs there and lessen. Latin for this for that , an exchange of one thing for another.
Quintile: One of five segments of a distribution that has been divided into fifths. For example, the second-from-the-bottom quintile of an income distribution is those whose income exceeds the incomes of from 20% to 40% of the population.
Quota by country: A quota that specifies the total amount to be imported (or exported) and also assigns specific amounts to each exporting (or importing) country.
Quota rent: The economic rent received by the holder of the right (or license) to import under a quota. Equals the domestic price of the imported good, net of any tariff, minus the world price, times the quantity of imports.
1. The quantity of goods of a specific kind that a country permits to be imported without restriction or imposition of additional duties. Government regulation specifying the quantity of particular products that can be imported to a country. A government-imposed restriction on quantity, or sometimes on total value.
2. An import quota specifies the maximum amount of an import per year, typically administered with import licenses that may be sold or directly allocated, to individuals or firms, domestic or foreign. May be global, bilateral, or by country.
3. And IMF quota.
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