An entity that stands ready and willing to buy a security for its own account (at its bid price) or sell from its own account (at its ask price). Individual or firm acting as a principal in a securities transaction. Principals are market makers in securities, and thus trade for their own account and risk. Antithesis of broker. See: Agency.
Copyright © 2011 Campbell R. Harvey, Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University