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What is the Black-Scholes formula?

The Black-Scholes formula is a formula and market model for explaining or determining the price of European-style options. It was developed in 1973 by two world-renowned economists, Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, and it led to a Nobel Prize in 1997. As opposed to the American-style of options, which can be exercised at any time, European-style options can only be exercised on their expiration date, they are not exposed to dividends, and they have no commission structure to consider. Some are content to use Black-Scholes for quick applications to American-style, but It is not as accurate as it should be. Continue reading...

How are option prices computed?

Option prices are decided by the buyers and sellers in the marketplace, but are tied closely to the amount of risk inherent in the agreed upon expiration date and strike price. Option prices change as the market factors in the relevant information. The main factor is the strike price. The closer an option’s strike price is to the actual market price of a security, the higher it’s price will be. Once it’s in-the-money, it has inherent value that makes it essentially the same price as the market security that underlies it. The expiration date of the contract is also a factor because if the expiration date is closing in, and the strike price is not quite close enough to the market price of the underlying asset, there is little chance that the option will be useful. Continue reading...

What is an 'expiration date' in reference to option trading?

An ‘expiration date’ refers to the time when an option contract must either be acted upon by the owner (buying or selling the security in question) or left to expire. With derivatives such as options and futures, there will be an expiry, or expiration date in the contract, after which they expire worthlessly. Most options contracts will expire in 3, 6 or 9 months from when they are generated, and they all share the same expiration day of the month on their contracts in the United States, which is the 3rd Friday of the month at 4 PM. Continue reading...

What is the foreign earned income exclusion?

Americans working abroad must report their earnings to the IRS, but they are allowed to avoid paying federal income taxes on an amount adjusted for inflation, which is just over $100,000 as of 2016. Americans working abroad often enjoy a few tax advantages. One of which is the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. The reasoning is that they are probably paying some form of tax in the county in which they are working, even though this is sometimes not the case. Continue reading...

What is Form 8891?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 8891 was previously used by individuals with retirement plans held in Canada when they were living in America, each time they took distributions. The process proved to be cumbersome for many good-natured Canadians, and caused the IRS a lot of trouble as well. This form has been retired in favor of an acknowledgement on the IRS Form 1040. Form 8891 is no longer used, which came as a relief to many Canadian-Americans who had retirement plans from work they did in Canada. Certain filing requirements still exist, such as a new form replacing the FBAR, for foreign bank accounts, now called the FinCEN Form 114. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax deduction?

Workers who earn income in foreign countries will frequently pay taxes on the income in the country in which the wages were earned. In such cases the worker may be eligible to take deductions for the amount of taxes paid so that their entire income is not subject to taxes again in their country of citizenship. Ex-patriot workers who earn income overseas are generally eligible for tax deductions, credits, or exclusions to account for the taxes that they have already paid on their income in the foreign country. Continue reading...

Learn Options Trading

Options are contracts used by investors to take a speculative position – or a hedge – based on expected future price movements of the underlying securities. An option is a contract which can be exercised if the price of an underlying security moves favorably. An option will be written or sold short by one investor and bought by another. It will name the strike price at which the security can be bought or sold before the expiration of the contract. Continue reading...

What is a put option?

A put option gives the owner of the option/contract the right to sell a stock at the strike price named in the contract. One kind of option is a put. A Put is a right to sell a particular asset (usually a stock) at a certain price (called the “strike price”) within a specified time-frame. The owner of the put contract doesn’t need to own the underlying stock. If the price of the stock drops below the strike price in the put, the owner of the put contract can buy the stock at the lower market price and immediately sell it at the higher strike price in the put contract. That is a speculative way to use a Put contract. Continue reading...

What is a call option?

A call option is a type of contract that allows the holder of the contract to purchase an underlying stock at a specific price, even if the market price goes higher. A call option contract gives the owner of the contract the right to purchase a particular asset, which is typically a stock, at a strike price designated in the contract during a certain period of time. For example, if the stock of company ABC is trading at $100/share, you might purchase the right to buy it at $90/share for a $12/share premium. Continue reading...

What are option strategies?

Option strategies are implemented by investment professionals to profit from the price movement of an underlying strategy, and can also be used as a hedge against losses or to preserve profits. Various option strategies have been developed over the years to take advantage of the behavior of the underlying assets. Some of these are designed to be conservative, and others are intended to be aggressive. Sometimes these strategies are known by epic-sounding names such as Iron Butterfly and Iron Condor. Continue reading...

What is a foreign fund?

A foreign fund is a mutual fund that invests solely in companies abroad and does not invest in corporations owned in the US. Owning foreign companies can be a very good diversification strategy and is considered a core holding in the portfolio of most investors. Foreign exposure means that if the US economy hits a rough patch, you may have a hedge in the foreign fund if the companies or markets in other parts of the world are not entirely correlated. Continue reading...

What are the basics of options?

Options are contracts used by investors to take a speculative position – or a hedge – based on expected future price movements of the underlying securities. Many investors are scared when they heard the word "option" and perceive it as a risky, speculative investment. Options certainly can be risky, but they don’t have to be. In fact, certain options strategies are far more conservative than many available investments in the marketplace. Continue reading...

What is a short position in options trading?

Taking a short position is selling a security that you don’t own because you anticipate that its value is set to fall. In simple terms, an investor that takes a short position is betting against it. “Shorting” is the opposite of being “long” in a security, where being “long” means to actually own it and to wait for it to appreciate. When you contact your broker or custodian to take a short position on a security, you essentially sell shares you don’t own, and then after a period, you have to return those shares to the custodian. Continue reading...

What is an Abandonment Option?

An Abandonment Option can be worked into a contract for a capital project at a business, for example, or between an investment advisor and his or her clients. An abandonment option outlines the terms by which either party in an agreement can choose to cease their involvement in the project or a working relationship without penalty. This may be worked into the contract on a business partnership agreement, a capital project, or even something as simple as the relationship between a financial planner and his or her clients. Continue reading...

Should I use options in my portfolio?

Options can be a valuable tool in portfolio management, but investors should be well-versed in how options work, and the risks involved, before actively engaging in options trading. Options can provide you a hedge, or provide the potential for unlimited gains or losses. They can also give you a relatively conservative income stream. Proper use of options can be highly profitable, but requires some level of expertise and a watchful eye. Continue reading...

What Kinds of ETFs Exist?

There are many ETFs on the market and more popping up all the time. Currently, there are over 900 ETFs available on the market, covering basically every market sector, industry, commodity, asset class, country, style of investing on the stock market. The amount of money invested in ETFs has increased exponentially over the last decade and is likely to continue in that direction. Many more ETFs are introduced to the market every year, many with different and creative strategies that have never been available in a single investment product before. These might use Forex, rate swaps, CMOs, futures, options, short-selling, and other advanced or institutional trading strategies, to create a new kind of position in a sector, industry, or geography to which the investor wants to gain exposure. Continue reading...

What is a Global Depository Receipt (GDR)?

A Global Depository Receipt is a security which represents ownership in shares of a foreign corporation. Investment banks in the United States and elsewhere purchase shares in foreign corporations and sell the equity in the form of a Global Depository Receipt, also called an International Depository Receipt, and formerly known as an American Depository Receipt. They allow foreign companies to find investors in other countries, and vice versa, and the Americans and other foreigners can pay for the GDRs in American currency. They are typically sold in lots such that 1 GDR equals 10 shares of the underlying foreign company, but other ratios can be used. Continue reading...

What is the Lifetime Learning Credit?

The Lifetime Learning Credit is a federal tax credit to offset expenses associated with higher education. There is no age limit and the credit can be applied to part-time student courses, even if it is only one class. The credit is for 20% of the related expenses up to a maximum of a $2,000 credit per household. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes due. The Lifetime Learning Credit can be used for higher education expenses, regardless of the age of the student, but there is a household limit per year. 20% of educational expenses up to a household maximum of $2,000 can be applied as an income tax credit. The credit exists to make it easier for Americans to increase their skill-set and education. Continue reading...

What does 'call option' mean?

If you own a Call Option, you have the right (not the obligation) to purchase a security at an agreed-upon price from the seller of the option. Buying a call option means you are bullish on the security. For example, an investor may buy an August 2017 call on stock XYZ for $50/share (strike price). This means that the owner of this call option has the ability to buy XYZ on the expiration date (August) for $50/share. Continue reading...

What does it mean to 'exercise an option?'

An options contract does not affect the underlying securities until the option is exercised, meaning that the option or buy or sell the security is utilized. Many options trades do not directly touch the underlying securities – investors worldwide make plenty of money buying and selling the options contracts themselves. Options have time-value inherent in them based on how the underlying securities are priced and when the options expire, and traders will speculate on when and if someone might actually “exercise the option,” and thereby use the rights of the contract holder to buy or sell the underlying securities. The contract names the strike price at which the holder of a call option can buy a security; or, for a put option, the price at which the holder can sell the security. Continue reading...