February 18, 2021

Business Acronyms You Should Know

At the Brew, we try to make business news as fun and easy to read…

At the Brew, we try to make business news as fun and easy to read as a vintage Peanuts strip. But, often, the business world can feel like a jumble of insider language and acronyms. 

Consider this is your Rosetta Stone for business hieroglyphics. 

The finance-y stuff

GDP: Gross domestic product is the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a country during a period of time. It’s one of the most widely used indicators of economic health. 

IPO: An initial public offering is a way for companies to go from private → public and raise capital by selling shares to public investors on a stock exchange.

M&A: Shorthand for mergers and acquisitions. For more on how and why companies combine, how it works, and what happens after, check out our Merger Week series. 

Nasdaq: The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations was the world’s first electronic stock exchange. When someone says “the Nasdaq”, they’re probably referring to the Nasdaq Composite Index, which tracks securities listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

NYSE: The New York Stock Exchange is that pillared stone building that comes to mind when you picture Wall St. It is the world’s largest stock exchange and is owned by Intercontinental Exchange.

S&P: Standard & Poor’s (now known as S&P Global) is an analytics and financial data corporation. One of its joint ventures operates the S&P 500, an index of 500 stocks listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq that is widely considered the best indicator of large-cap stocks in the US. For more on the S&P and other major indexes used to track the markets, check out the Brew’s Markets 101 guide.  

SPAC: A special-purpose acquisition company, aka “blank check company,” offers another way for firms to go public. A SPAC raises money through an IPO, and then merges with a private company, taking it public in the process.

YOY and YTD: Year over year compares how a data point has changed over the preceding 12 months. Year to date is progression within a calendar year, starting Jan. 1.

US agencies and regulators

CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; if you don’t know this after a year of Covid…it is responsible for promoting public health at home and abroad, responding to infectious diseases, and researching threats to human health.

CFPB: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the 2008 financial crisis to…protect consumer financial activity. It oversees banks, securities firms, mortgage and foreclosure services, debt collection, and more. 

DOJ: The Department of Justice enforces US laws and handles federal civil and criminal cases. Along with the FTC, it enforces federal antitrust (competition) rules.

FCC: The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communication through TV, satellite, cable, wire, and radio. It sells companies bands of “spectrum” that carry wireless signals and encourages investments/competition in broadband services.  

FTC: The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws and civil antitrust law. It also reviews mergers and investigates fraud and false advertising. 

SEC: The Securities and Exchange Commission is a federal agency that regulates securities markets (securities = financial instruments like stocks and bonds) to protect investors. It collects earnings and market-related and earnings information from public companies, and reviews proposed M&A (you know what this means by now). 

International organizations

EU: The European Union is a bloc of 27 European countries that sets standards, laws, and regulations as a “single market” to promote cross-border business and movement. 19 members are part of the common currency “eurozone,.” which uses the euro as common currency. 

OECD: The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is an economic organization of 37 so-called “developed” nations. It’s goal is to promote economic development and global trade. 

OPEC: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is a group of 13 countries that account for around 40% of global oil production. It’s goal is to coordinate prices and keep oil markets stable. In 2016, the OPEC+ alliance was created, adding 10 additional oil exporters.

UN: The United Nations is an international organization meant to foster global cooperation and prevent future wars. It also works on protecting human rights, extending humanitarian aid, fostering sustainable development, and enforcing international law. 

WHO: The World Health Organization is a UN agency focused on public health—monitoring risks, responding to emergencies, promoting universal healthcare, and setting international standards. 

WTO: The World Trade Organization regulates international trade and helps resolve violations and trade conflicts. It has 160+ participating nations. 

The rest 

AV: Autonomous vehicle, a phrase often used interchangeably with “self-driving vehicle.” A car in 2021 can have autonomous features, like parking assist or highway driving, but fully autonomous cars that don’t require a driver are still in their nascency. 

B2B vs. B2C vs. D2C: Frameworks for identifying a company’s typical customer.

  • In business-to-business (B2B), the product is for a corporate customer. Think Salesforce.
  • In business-to-consumer, a manufacturer sells to customers but a retailer or distributor may sit in the middle, like the Olay bar soap you picked up at Walmart.
  • In direct-to-consumer, companies like Warby Parker send their product straight to you.

CSR: Corporate social responsibility offers a model for businesses to have a positive impact on society and remain accountable not only to shareholders, but also to the public. They may measure that impact using…

ESG: Environmental, social, and governance is a framework that measures corporations’ positions on issues like human rights, diversity, employee welfare, and climate impacts. Companies can receive an ESG score, but as of yet there aren’t universal ESG standards.

DEI: Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives foster representation and participation of traditionally underrepresented groups, particularly people with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic minorities, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and women. 

EV: Electric vehicle, which are powered directly by electricity instead of fossil fuels. 

FAMGA and FAANG: Popular groupings of Big Tech companies. FAMGA = Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, while FAANG is more consumer-facing with Netflix subbing in for Microsoft.  

UX vs. UI: User experience vs. user interface. The “experience” is how you interact with a product from beginning to end (e.g., arriving here from our newsletter, reading this, then navigating to our homepage to read more stories). The interface consists of the design and interactive elements you use, like the buttons below to share this article on social media. 

Which, if you learned something, you can do right now.