The Devil's Financial Dictionary

This glossary of financial terms is inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s masterpiece The Devil’s Dictionary, which the great American satirist published sporadically between 1881 and 1906. (View free versions of Bierce’s text here or here.) Like Bierce’s brilliantly cynical definitions, the explanations presented here should not — quite — be taken as literally true. Some of these entries are adapted from articles published previously in Financial History, Money, and The Wall Street Journal.


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Z

 

ZOMBIE FUND, n.  A portfolio, typically a HEDGE FUND or PRIVATE-EQUITY FUND, that functions like the living dead. Many years after its birth, and some years after it was due to be dissolved, the fund often is left holding only vestigial assets that are difficult to price and almost impossible to sell. That does not, however, deter its manager from charging fees as if the fund were vibrantly alive.

When funds die, fees can live on.

Funds may die, but fees live forever.

 

 


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