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What is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change, over time, in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI is an important economic indicator, as it’s changes influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions and it gives an indication if an economy is experiencing adequate inflation. The most common reading on the CPI is % change from a previous period, with most developed economies generally striving for 2% annualized inflation. Continue reading...

How is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Calculated?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated using prices of sample goods from predetermined urban areas. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the CPI is a product of a series of interrelated samples. First, using data from the 1990 Census of Population, BLS selected the urban areas from which data on prices were collected and chose the housing units within each area that were eligible for use in the shelter component of the CPI. The Census of Population also provided data on the number of consumers represented by each area selected as a CPI price collection area. Continue reading...

What are TIPS?

What are TIPS?

Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) are coupon-paying treasuries issued by the US Government whose principal amount adjusts with inflation. When a consumer buys Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), they experience a few benefits when compared to other investment options. One benefit is that the security is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Another benefit is that the principal amount adjusts automatically for inflation with the Consumer Price Index. Continue reading...

What is Real Rate of Return?

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

What is the House Price Index (HPI)?

The House Price Index (HPI) tracks average prices of homes using data from sales and refinancing, tracking the data for the same residential properties over many years. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes it quarterly and relies on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HPI is an important index for the real estate and mortgage industry, as well as the economy as a whole. It uses information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about home sale prices and the refinancing value of homes, tracking the sales and refinancing prices of homes in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases, all the way back to 1978. They do this using a weighted repeat-sales method. It is published quarterly by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Continue reading...

What is a price-weighted index?

What is a price-weighted index?

When creating an index, it must be decided what criteria will affect the value of the index, and in the case of a price-weighted index, the only consideration is the price of shares. A price-weighted index is created by adding up the individual price per share of the companies included in the index and dividing by the number of companies. Essentially what you've done is arrived at the average price per share of the companies included in the index. Continue reading...

What are Consumer Staples Stocks?

Consumer Staples are generally defined as companies that sell goods with inelastic demand, meaning that economic conditions generally don’t impact a consumer’s need for the product. They are also referred to as ‘non-cyclical,’ meaning that demand should not significantly waver even if the economy enters a recession. Because the earnings of consumer staples stocks is generally less volatile, they have historically outperformed other stocks during prolonged market downturns. Continue reading...

What are Consumer Discretionary Stocks?

Consumer Discretionary companies are those that sell ‘non-essential’ items, such as clothing retailers, media and entertainment, luxury goods, auto makers, and so on. Consumer discretionary companies tend to sell goods with elastic demand, meaning that demand goes up as economic conditions are good and falls when conditions are slowing or recessionary. Consumer discretionary companies are also categorically referred to as ‘cyclicals.’ Consumer discretionary stocks can also include companies in the service industry, like hotels and restaurants. Continue reading...

What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is an index comprised of 30 'significant' U.S. stocks, typically the biggest and most frequently traded. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1896 by Charles Dow, as a way to track the general trend of U.S. stocks. The index is price-weighted versus cap-weighted, meaning that if a company splits 2 for 1 its contribution to the index will drop by half (even though the company's value did not change). Continue reading...

What is the Nikkei 225?

What is the Nikkei 225?

The “Nikkei” is the most referenced index for measuring Japanese stocks. The Nikkei 225 - often just referred to as “the Nikkei” - is an index that tracks the performance of Japan’s top 225 publicly-traded companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It is to Japan what the Dow Jones Industrial Average is to the United States. The Nikkei is a price-weighted index. What is a Bear Straddle? What is Foreign Exchange? Continue reading...

What is a market index?

What is a market index?

Market indexes attempt to give an overall picture of the behavior of the market by tracking the performance of a representative sample of stocks. Different indexes have different focuses. The Russell 3000 samples more of the smaller companies than the S&P 500. Index mutual funds and ETFs track specific indexes but, as you’ll notice in their disclosures, it is impossible to invest directly in an index; they only follow the index by investing in as many of the companies as possible and minimizing lag as much as they can. Indexes give numerical values for the progressive fluctuations in the price action for specific sets of stocks. Continue reading...

What is the commodity selection index?

What is the commodity selection index?

The Commodity Selection Index (CSI) is a momentum indicator based on the Directional Movement Indicator and the Average True Range. It helps commodities traders find momentum in commodities futures that seem to be the best candidates to make the trader money in the short term, based on volatility and also the cost of holding the position. This momentum indicator uses multiple other indicators for price, volume, and volatility to find short term trends. It may identify situations where a price movement is likely to persist. This is certainly not a guarantee, and even if a trend is strong there are often retracements and unexpected reversals. Continue reading...

What is the MSCI ACWI Index?

What is the MSCI ACWI Index?

The MSCI ACWI is the “All Country World Index” - providing the broadest measure for global stocks. The MSCI ACWI tracks performance of stocks from all over the world - literally. It includes all markets and gives the broadest picture for how world stocks are performing. Developed markets account for some 75% of total global output, so the MSCI ACWI includes many countries that are not necessarily palatable contributors to world growth. Continue reading...

What is Weighted Average Market Capitalization?

What is Weighted Average Market Capitalization?

Indexes track markets in different ways, and Weighted Average Market Capitalization is a method which gives market cap, or the cumulative value of outstanding shares for a company, greater weight. Market Capitalization is the sum total value of all outstanding shares and is one way to judge the size of a company or at least its size in the market. Indexes such as the S&P 500 are Cap-Weighted indexes, which means they give greater emphasis the to the largest companies, and the dramatic price movements of only a few of the largest companies would mean that the index would swing disproportionately for large-cap companies. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?

What is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?

The FERC oversees the interstate commerce surrounding oil, energy, and natural gas. This regulation and oversight might deal with pipelines and storage facilities, permits for future exploration sites, environmental and safety concerns with projects, as well as the sale and transfer of these commodities. FERC deals with the companies engaged in the extraction, transfer, storage, and sale of energy and energy-related resources. Continue reading...

Where do I find a good CPA?

Where do I find a good CPA?

A good CPA can be a valuable ally. You should find one who works with clients similar to you and who is easy to talk to. Taxes and accounting are a part of nearly every financial instrument and consideration that people will be confronted with in their life. It can be very beneficial to work with a CPA who can advise you properly on the issues that affect you. It can also be detrimental to place too much trust in a CPA who isn’t really an expert in the areas he claims to be. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What is index investing?

What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...

What is a strike price?

What is a strike price?

A strike price names the price of the underlying security in options or derivative contract at which the underlying security will trade at settlement if it is exercised. In a call option, for example, the option would name a strike price, and if the current market price of the underlying security was more than the strike price, an investor who held the call contract would invoke his right to purchase the stock from the issuer/seller of the option at the strike price, which, remember is lower than the prevailing market price in this example, and the investor can turn around and sell it in the market at or near its most recent, and higher, price, for a profit. Continue reading...

What is a Breakeven Price?

There will be a premium paid by investors for the right to establish positions using options. The price of the underlying security must move to a certain point for the options position to become profitable. The strike price of an options contract names the price that an investor can use to buy or sell the underlying security, but the breakeven price will be the strike price plus the amount of the investor’s premium or net debit. Breakeven price can apply to a multi-option strategy such as a spread, or to a single option position. Continue reading...