Derivatives are the Mata Hari of the global capital markets, says the author of this article. That's because derivatives are mysterious, possibly dangerous, and yet invitingly attractive. When derivatives fail, many people believe it is because accountants do not understand derivatives—despite the pitched battle that has raged over many years between accountants and the derivatives community. Is there clear evidence that accountants do not understand derivatives? And if so, what knowledge is lacking? The author takes a close look at these issues, and also gives you a chance to test your own knowledge of derivatives with a quick quiz. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.