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What is a Credit Crunch?

A credit crunch is when access to liquidity dries up dramatically in rapid fashion, or becomes less accessible due to a spike in borrowing rates. Central banks will often step-in to try and curb the lack of liquidity by offering the markets access to cash at lower than market rates, in the event of a crisis. Perhaps the most famous credit crunch in history occurred in late 2007 and early 2008, when bank balance sheets became highly leveraged overnight due to mark-to-market accounting rules that were applied to the mortgage backed security portfolios on their balance sheets. Continue reading...

What is a Bear Squeeze?

Investors who were bearish on a stock may have chosen to short-sell shares in the hopes that they could cover at a lower price. Short selling is when a broker facilitates the actions of an investor who wishes to take on the risk of replacing sold shares of a particular stock because he or she believes the price will be lower when he or she replaces the inventory. The broker passes the proceeds of the sale (minus a fee) along to the investor who is taking the risk of replacing the shares, and charges the investor interest or fees as long as the shares are outstanding. Investors need to cover the short before prices go up and it results in a loss for them. Continue reading...

What is a bear market?

Bear markets are loosely defined as periods when markets experience declines in magnitude of 20% or more. More specifically, bear markets are a period in which a major index like the S&P 500, for example, declines by 20% or more, with this decline sustained for a period over two months or so. Consequently, many investors become “bearish” – they lose confidence in the market, sell off their securities they do not believe will recover soon, and sit on the sidelines. There have been 25 bear markets since 1929, for an average of one every 3.4 years. Continue reading...

What is defined as a market correction?

Sometimes a stock or index will reflect prices that have become inflated or overvalued in the short-term as a result of bullish conditions. In some cases, due to shift in sentiment or a negative news story in the headlines, stocks may retreat suddenly and without notice. A market correction is a sharp, sudden decline in stock prices, where they fall in value by around 10% - 20% over a short period, usually no longer than 6 months. Corrections are frequent occurrences (typically an average of once a year) and are a normal and healthy part of equity investing. Continue reading...

How to Trade Moving Averages: The Death Cross?

The Death Cross is the inverse of a Golden Cross: a chart pattern occurring when a security’s short-term moving average crosses underneath its long-term counterpart, typically followed by an increase in trading volume. A death cross, which like a golden cross most commonly uses long-term 50-day and 200-day moving averages to detect the pattern, usually signifies an incoming bear market to traders. Continue reading...

What are Some of the Biggest Bankruptcies in Recent History?

Before Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns, probably the most well-known and publicized bankruptcy was the infamous Enron scandal. To summarize, Enron executives, fully aware that the company was insolvent, started to sell their stock, while convincing the general public that the stock would continue to rise and the company was prospering (despite actual horrendous losses). As the stock dropped lower and lower, the executives continued to lie to the public, and most people fell into the trap, convinced that the low stock prices were a great opportunity (the stock was going to rebound any day – or so they thought). Continue reading...

What is the Descending Triangle (Bullish) Pattern?

The Descending Triangle pattern is formed when the price of a security establishes a support level (1, 3, 5) and bounces off that level to a declining resistance level, creating a down-­sloping top line (2, 4). The breakout can either be up or down, depending if the resistance or highest support level is broken first. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. Continue reading...

What is the Profit Rate for the Ascending Triangle (Bullish) Pattern?

The Ascending Triangle pattern forms when the price of a security tests a resistance level and creates a horizontal top line (1, 3, 5), with an upward­-sloping bottom line (2, 4) formed by a rising support level. The breakout can either be up or down, and it will determine whether the target price is higher or lower. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets, since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. When the price of a security consolidates around a certain level, it may indicate growing investor confidence for a significant uptrend. Continue reading...

What is the Symmetrical Triangle Bottom (Bullish) Pattern?

The Symmetrical Triangle Bottom pattern forms when the price of a security fails to retest a high or a low and ultimately forms two narrowing trend lines. As the support and resistance levels consolidate, it forms a triangle (1­5). Symmetrical Triangles are characterized by the upper line sloping downward and lower line sloping upward. The price movement inside the triangle should fill the shape with some uniformity, without leaving large blank areas. Continue reading...

What is the Symmetrical Triangle Top (Bullish) Pattern?

The Symmetrical Triangle Top pattern forms when the price of a security fails to retest a high or low and ultimately forms two narrowing trend lines. The price is expected to move up or down past the triangle depending on which line is broken first. The price movement inside the triangle should fill the shape with some uniformity, without leaving large blank areas. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout). Continue reading...

What is the Rising Wedge (Bullish) Pattern?

The Rising Wedge pattern forms when prices seem to be spiraling upward, and two upward sloping trend lines are created with the price hitting higher highs (1, 3, 5) and higher lows (2,4). The two pattern lines intersect to form an upward sloping triangle. Unlike Ascending Triangle patterns, however, both lines need to have a distinct upward slope, with the bottom line having a steeper slope. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout). Continue reading...

What is the Falling Wedge (Bullish) Pattern?

The Falling Wedge pattern forms when the price of a security appears to be spiraling downward, and two down-­sloping lines are created with the price hitting lower lows (1, 3, 5) and lower highs (2, 4). The two pattern lines intersect to form a narrow triangle. Unlike Descending Triangle patterns, however, both lines need to have a distinct downward slope, with the top line having a steeper decline. Continue reading...

What is the Symmetrical Triangle Top (Bearish) Pattern?

The Symmetrical Triangle Top pattern forms when the price of a security fails to retest a high or low and ultimately forms two narrowing trend lines. The price is expected to move up or down past the triangle depending on which line is broken first. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout). The price movement inside the triangle should fill the shape with some uniformity, without leaving large blank areas. Continue reading...

What is the Symmetrical Triangle Bottom (Bearish) Pattern?

The Symmetrical Triangle Bottom pattern forms when the price of a security fails to retest a high or a low and ultimately forms two narrowing trend lines. Points 1­ 5 form the triangle patterns. The price is expected to move up or down past the triangle depending on which line is broken first. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout). Continue reading...

What is the Descending Triangle (Bearish) Pattern?

The Descending Triangle pattern has a horizontal bottom (1, 3, 5) which represents the support level, and a down­-sloping top line (2, 4). The breakout can be either up or down and the direction of the breakout determines which corresponding price level is the target. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. When the price of a security consolidates in a somewhat volatile fashion, it may indicate growing investor concern that the price is set to break out. Continue reading...

What is the Rising Wedge (Bearish) Pattern?

The Rising Wedge pattern forms when prices appear to spiral upward, with higher highs (1, 3, 5) and higher lows (2,4) creating two up­-sloping trend lines that intersect to form a triangle. Unlike Ascending Triangle patterns, both lines need to have a distinct upward slope, with the bottom line having a steeper slope. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. There is a distinct possibility that market participants will sell out, and the price can move down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout). Continue reading...

What is the Falling Wedge (Bearish) Pattern?

The Falling Wedge pattern forms when prices appear to spiral downward, with lower lows (1, 3, 5) and lower highs (2, 4) creating two down­-sloping trend lines that intersect to form a triangle. Unlike Descending Triangle patterns, however, both lines need to have a distinct downward slope, with the top line having a steeper decline. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout).​​ Continue reading...

What is market neutral?

Market neutral is a term used to describe strategies of investing that are poised to benefit whether the market goes up or down, or even if it stays stagnant. Some professionally managed funds might take a market-neutral stance in their entirety, or investors might employ market-neutral strategies for specific parts of their portfolio. Market Neutral means that your position as an investor is neither bearish nor bullish, and you may be able to profit whether the market moves up or down, or even if it doesn’t move at all. Options traders, for instance, have a wide variety of market-neutral positions that they can take, since profiting may depend more on the presence of volatility rather than price movement in one direction or another. Continue reading...

What is Earnings Season?

Earnings season describes not one, but four times in a year, when corporations release their quarterly earnings reports. Investors look forward to this time because they are able to get an update about how the year is going, compared to projections. After each fiscal quarter ends, there are a few weeks in which companies file their quarterly reports with the SEC and announce their current earnings and sales numbers. Each of these periods is known as earnings season. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Pension Plan After I Retire?

Usually such withdrawals will be in the form of income payments, but there may be other options. If the plan administrator allows it, you can make non-recurring (one-time) withdrawals from a pension fund. This is usually not allowed, however. The regular qualified plan distribution rules will apply as far as the IRS is concerned, and they may charge a 10% penalty if the withdrawals are taken before age 59½. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life (also known as a Life Annuity), or a lump-sum payment. Continue reading...

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