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The base value (also trading object ; rarely reference value ; English underlying ) is in finance the trading object underlying a cash and forward transaction , which serves as the basis for the fulfillment and valuation of the contract.


Although the term is often used in the Securities Trading Act (WpHG), it is not legally defined . It is content with a - non-exhaustive - list of financial products that belong to the forward transactions. The legislature has chosen the form of the non-exhaustive list so that new base values ​​not previously covered by the law can be included. There is also an underlying value for cash transactions, as they are based on a trading object (subject matter of the contract), which is to be delivered by the seller during settlement and accepted by the buyer.


Financial products , goods and raw materials (“ commodities ”) are the underlying assets .

According to Section 2 (5) WpHG, goods ( English commodities ) are defined as fungible assets that can be delivered; this also includes metals , ores and alloys , agricultural products and energies such as electricity .


The underlying is not always physically present and determinable, as is the case with precious metals. With a financial innovation such as weather derivatives , the good is physically intangible and abstract, and measured values ​​can only be read off. The stock basket is physically present in a DAX future , a compilation of stocks based on a stock index. The Bund future is based on an imaginary federal bond , but it can be delivered in the form of a physical one. In the case of credit derivatives such as the credit default swap , the term “reference asset” or “reference debtor” has become commonplace instead of the base value.


Base values ​​must be standardized , i.e. have homogeneous types, dimensions or quality. The reason is the greater marketability, so that market participants do not have to question the individual properties of an underlying asset. As a result, the underlying assets no longer need to be present at the seller's location so that they can be traded on the stock exchange . Foreign currencies are the standardized form for foreign exchange, bars for precious metals, Brent crude oil for crude oil. Financial instruments have the highest degree of standardization, because internationally they are usually based on the contractual standards of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), which precisely define the underlying.


The financial products with the highest turnover in Germany use the US dollar , federal bonds or the DAX as an underlying .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ BGH WM 1998, 545 , 546
  2. BGH WM 1994, 2231 , 2232