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What is a credit rating?

What is a credit rating?

A credit rating is given to a company or debt issue after a disinterested third party evaluates the strength of the business or cash flow and rates its ability to pay all of its liabilities. Third-party institutions such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch will conduct research in order to give investors an idea of how likely a business, bond issue, or insurance company can pay all of its obligations. Continue reading...

BB-/Ba3 — Credit Rating

BB-/Ba3 — Credit Rating

BB- — S&P / Fitch Ba3 — Moody’s The BB-/Ba3 rating is given to bonds and companies who have a moderate risk of default, and this rating appears around the middle of a scale with over 20 ratings. There are two symbols in this example which are the same rating: Fitch and S&P use BB-, and Moody’s uses Ba3. These are the Big Three of the Credit Ratings Agencies (CRAs) that the SEC has sanctioned to issue ratings which can be used for internal regulation within industry groups. Continue reading...

A+/A1 — credit rating

A+/A1 — credit rating

A+ — S&P / Fitch A1 — Moody’s In the spectrum of ratings given to bonds and companies, A+/A1 is a very good rating to get, even if it is the 5th rating from the top. The Big Three ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P, give ratings for creditworthiness after inspecting the books of companies who issue bonds. There are credit ratings given for companies and credit ratings given to bond issues. Continue reading...

What does it mean to Accept Risk?

The notion of who bears risk for various sorts of failures, circumstances, or losses is a prevalent one in the financial world, and many institutions make all of their money accepting risks. To accept a risk is to bear the burden of loss or replacement if an event occurs that causes an asset to lose value or disappear. There is a bright side to this, however. There is a real and theoretical “risk premium” due to those who accept a risk. Continue reading...

BB+/Ba1 — credit rating

BB+/Ba1 — credit rating

BB+ — S&P / Fitch Ba1 — Moody’s This rating is the highest non-investment grade category that the ratings agencies will give to a bond. When rating bond issues based on their risk of default, investment grade bonds will range from AAA/Aaa to BBB-/Baa3, in the parlance of Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. Below this level, starting with the BB+/Ba1 rating, are High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk Bonds. If an investor chooses wisely, high yield bonds can be some of the best investments in his or her portfolio. The further down the ratings scale a bond appears, the higher the yield; but there is also a higher risk of default. The higher yield paid out on higher-risk bonds is known as the “risk premium,” which is a concept present throughout the investment world. Continue reading...

AAA/Aaa — credit rating

AAA/Aaa — credit rating

AAA — S&P / Fitch Aaa — Moody’s AAA/Aaa rated bond issues have an almost nonexistent chance of defaulting, according to the major ratings institutions that issue the ratings. AAA/Aaa is the highest rating a bond issue or company can get. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, many companies, and the US Government itself, were downgraded from AAA to AA+. Only two companies in the US still retain the AAA rating: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Continue reading...

What is Bond Insurance?

Bond insurance is a contract that protects the issuer and the holder of bonds from the risk that bond payments will not be made. Bond issues from the corporate or municipal world, or from derivative sources as with asset-backed securities and CDOs, come with the risk of default-- that is, that payments will not be made on time. The major credit ratings agencies (CRAs) assign a risk of default to each bond issue with proprietary analysis methods and ratings. Continue reading...

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+ — S&P / Fitch B1 — Moody’s B+/B1 is within the range of ratings given to High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk bonds. B+/B1 is the 14th rating rating from the top rating of AAA/Aaa in the scales used by the Big Three credit ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. They evaluate the fundamentals of companies, municipal entities, and their bond contracts to determine how much risk of default is present. The limit for the category of Investment Grade bonds is BBB-, and there are a few categories of BB above B. Continue reading...

B/B2 — credit rating

B/B2 — credit rating

B — S&P / Fitch B2 — Moody’s A bond issue that has a moderate chance of default but a high yield might be given a B2/B rating by the major ratings institutions. Bonds are rated based on their risk of default by the Big Three ratings institutions: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. The latter two use the same symbols, so if the algorithms and analysts at the two ratings institutions come to similar conclusions, a company might have the same rating from each of them, such as the “B” in this example. B2/B ratings are the 15th ratings down the scale from the top rating of AAA/Aaa. Continue reading...

B-/B3 — credit rating

B-/B3 — credit rating

B- — S&P / Fitch B3 — Moody’s In the world of junk bonds, a B3/B- rating is about as low of a rating as most investors will venture to explore. Bonds are rated by independent ratings institutions known as the Big Three: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. Two companies, S&P and Fitch, use the same symbols, and the B- in this example belongs to them. Moody’s has its own system, and the B3 in this example is theirs. Continue reading...

What does Investment Grade Mean?

Investment grade refers to the highest quality of debt available, and usually means the bond has little risk of default. Determining a bond’s credit rating is typically handled by ratings agencies, which is far from a perfect process. Ratings agencies like Moody’s and S&P notoriously failed to rate mortgage backed securities as high risk in the months/years leading into the 2008 financial crisis, instead keeping them as investment grade even as the crisis took hold. Continue reading...

How Do I Know that Life Insurance Companies are Reliable?

How Do I Know that Life Insurance Companies are Reliable?

Life insurance companies that have not been around more than 20 years may not be reliable. Even the ones that have been around 30 years or so need to have very good credit ratings and business models for you to expect them to be around in 30 years or so to pay a possible death claim. To determine whether an insurance company is reliable, it is necessary to look at their financial strength rating. A financial strength rating is a letter-grade provided by major rating services, such as Moody’s Investor Services, Fitch Ratings, and others. For example, Moody’s Investor Services ratings are as follows: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, etc. Continue reading...

AA+/Aa1 — credit rating

AA+/Aa1 — credit rating

AA+ — S&P / Fitch Aa1 — Moody’s Major independent rating institutions such as Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) can make or break a company or municipality’s ability to issue debt at a competitive yield. They rank companies and debt issues in terms of the risk of default. Ratings in the A range are considered Investment Grade, which is a rating mostly used by institutional investors. The interesting thing is that there are 7 kinds of A ratings, and they are different between the ratings institutions. We will not list them here, but charts that show the system are readily available online. Continue reading...

Where Do I Buy Life Insurance?

Where Do I Buy Life Insurance?

There is no clear-cut answer this question. There are many companies that offer life insurance and countless salespeople and brokers anxious to sell an insurance policy. You should buy your Life Insurance from a company that is reliable, financially stable, and reputable. You can find a policy yourself online or through an agent or advisor. Of course, you must do research and analyze the companies which you are considering very carefully. It is of utmost importance to be sure that your insurance company has policies that suit your needs and are not a scam, especially since this may be some of the most important insurance you can own. Continue reading...

Can I Leave My 401(k) With My Former Employer?

Generally a plan will allow you to leave your assets in there indefinitely, but this is probably not ideal for you. Most custodians will be happy to hold onto your account dollars as long as you’re willing to leave them there. They don’t have to spend any time servicing your account since you can’t make contributions and probably aren’t even able to reallocate your assets, and they will continue to make money on your account with the built-in fees. You may be charged inactive account fees or small account fees as well. Continue reading...

What Should I Know About Roth IRAs?

Roth IRAs are a very popular and useful accumulation vehicle, and there are some things you should be aware of. Along with Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are very important retirement tools and should be taken into careful consideration while deciding upon the account that is right for you. The first thing you’ll want to know is whether you can contribute, based on income limitations, so check the current IRS website to find out. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 10?

Chapter 10 is a bankruptcy filing available to smaller corporations where they agree to have their management replaced to oversee a restructuring, and they also agree to have their debts repaid within three years. If a company does not have more than $2.5 million in debt, they may be able to file Chapter 10 bankruptcy. The company and its attorney will put together a plan for reorganization and explain how the plan will ensure that the company meet its obligations in the future. Continue reading...

What is the Equity Multiplier?

The Equity Multiplier is a number used to compare companies, arrived at by dividing total assets by owner’s equity, and it gives an idea of what proportion of the company’s assets have been financed through equity vs debt. In general a low Equity Multiplier is a good sign because it means that a higher proportion of equity has been used to acquire assets, as opposed to funding assets with debt. However, the absence of significant debt could mean that the company lacked the credit rating to issue debt or take out loans. Continue reading...

What are the Withdrawal Rules for My SEP IRA?

SEP IRAs are subject to the same withdrawal rules as Traditional IRAs. SEP IRA contributions and earnings may be withdrawn at any time, but there are penalties that may apply, using the same rules as those applied to Traditional IRA withdrawals. If you are under the age of 59½, you must pay a 10% penalty fee in addition to income taxes on your withdrawal. Of course, there are certain exceptions to the penalties: first time home-buyers expenses up to $10,000, medical bills, educational expenses, and a few others. Continue reading...

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...