Underlying asset is a term that applies to the field of derivatives trading. Derivatives are a security with a price that is determined as a function of that of another asset, called the underlying asset. For example, a grain future is a contract establishing the purchase and sale of a certain quantity of grain for a set price on a specific future date. These contracts are usually sold before expiry, so the trader never actually deals in the commodity itself, which is why it is considered a derivative. The underlying asset is the physical grain. Other derivatives include options, forwards, and contracts for difference, and the underlying assets can include other commodities, financial instruments like stocks, or currencies, among others.
The United Nations is a supranational body founded in 1945 that functions as a forum for international cooperation and policy recommendations on global issues such as security and economic prosperity. One of its five main branches is the Economic and Social Council, which coordinates fifteen specialised agencies that work on social and economic issue. These agencies include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both headquartered in Washington D.C., USA. While part of the UN system, these two agencies are highly independent. They exert major influence over global financial affairs, especially in developing countries.
Universal banking refers to a full suite of banking services at a single financial institution. At a universal bank, high-risk investing coexists routine commercial banking, insurance activity, and mergers and acquisitions.
This model is more common in Europe than in North America and has grown in popularity in recent years. Universal banking was long outlawed in the United States in order to separate the risk of activities like investing in equities from lower-risk services like accepting deposits and granting loans. Recently, however, this legislation was repealed, and universal banks do exist now in the U.S.