1. Introduction

Earnings conference calls are a routine occurrence for executives of public companies. Each quarter, while we listen to the company’s CEO, president, CFO, and others recite their prepared remarks about earnings, we may be unfamiliar with the terminology that they use. Of course, we would expect executives to be comfortable speaking about financial information, but what about the rest of us? Shouldn’t we be comfortable too? Shouldn’t we understand how we affect our organization’s economic performance from the decisions and actions we carry out each day?

We can expect that people who work in finance and accounting, and those whose daily responsibilities include financial and accounting work, feel comfortable conversing in financial ...

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