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As with other forms of risk, the potential loss amount due to market risk may be measured in a number of ways or conventions. Traditionally, one convention is to use Value at Risk. The conventions of using Value at risk is well established and accepted in the short-term risk management practice.
However, it contains a number of limiting assumptions that constrain its accuracy. The first assumption is that the composition of the portfolio measured remains unchanged over the specified period. Over short time horizons, this limiting assumption is often regarded as reasonable. However, over longer time horizons, many of the positions in the portfolio may have been changed. The Value at Risk of the unchanged portfolio is no longer relevant.
The Variance Covariance and Historical Simulation approach to calculating Value at Risk also assumes that historical correlations are stable and will not change in the future or breakdown under times of market stress.
In addition, care has to be taken regarding the intervening cash flow, embedded options, changes in floating rate interest rates of the financial positions in the portfolio. They cannot be ignored if their impact can be large.
In the United States, a section on market risk is mandated by the SEC in all annual reports submitted on Form 10-K. The company must detail how its own results may depend directly on financial markets. This is designed to show, for example, an investor who believes he is investing in a normal milk company, that the company is in fact also carrying out non-dairy activities such as investing in complex derivatives or foreign exchange futures.
All businesses take risks based on two factors: the probability an adverse circumstance will come about and the cost of such adverse circumstance.