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What is the Unemployment Rate?

There are a few ways to measure unemployment, but it is normally interpreted as a percentage of the working-age population that does not have a job. The statistics that are used to determine unemployment rate typically use the number of unemployed people who are actively searching for a job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts a monthly poll called the Current Population Survey which goes out to about 50,000 households, and this is a significant source of unemployment data. 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 Current Assets?

Current Assets are items on a balance sheet that are either cash or are going to be cash in the near future. The current assets section of a balance sheet is an indication of cash flows and liquidity. The assets are usually listed in order of liquidity, or the amount of time that it will take for them to become cash. This section includes cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, inventory, supplies, and temporary investments. (The order given here is not necessarily the order of liquidity found on a balance sheet.) Continue reading...

What are Current Yields?

The current yield on a bond takes into account its annual interest payment but also the price at which it can be sold. The yield on a bond held to maturity is fairly straightforward. However, if the bond you are holding is trading at a price higher or lower than where you purchased it, the current yield would be different than the yield to maturity. For example, if you purchased a 5% bond at a price of $100, but the current market price was $90, your current yield would be significantly lower than 5%. To calculate, simply divide annual cash inflows by market price. Continue reading...

What is a currency basket?

Currency baskets are composed of weighted amounts of certain currencies. The most common use of a currency basket is as a benchmark for certain economic analysis, but it can also be used as a unit of account where an international organization has constituents that use various currencies. A basket of currencies is a weighted index of various currencies which serves a specific purpose as a benchmark or as a unit of account. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What is a currency symbol?

Currency symbols are characters written or typed in a specific arrangement alongside the numerical values of a currency amount, to denote the kind of currency in which the amount of money is held. An example would be the dollar sign ($), which is placed at the beginning of the numbers which describe the amount of currency in question, despite the fact that in most languages the word “dollars” follows the numbers when spoken. Many currencies have their own symbol but not necessarily all do. Continue reading...

What is the Current Ratio/Liquidity Ratio?

The current ratio is a measure of a company’s immediate liquidity, calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. The value of this ratio lies in determining whether a company's short-term assets (cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, receivables and inventory) are sufficient enough to pay-off its short-term liabilities (notes payable, current portion of term debt, payables, accrued expenses and taxes). Generally speaking, the higher the current ratio, the better. Continue reading...

What is a Non-Current Asset?

A non-current asset is an asset on the balance sheet that is not expected to convert into unrestricted cash within a year’s time. Non-current assets may include such things as intellectual property and production/operations equipment - meaning they likely do not have a need to convert to cash. From a balance sheet standpoint, non-current assets are capitalized rather than expensed - meaning the company can allocate the asset’s cost of the asset over the number of years for which the asset will be used, instead of allocating it all in the year it was purchased. Continue reading...

What is the currency carry trade?

Assets that are held are sometimes analyzed in terms of the cost of carrying them, called the cost of carry. In certain situations, there may be a potential for profit if an asset that might otherwise have a cost of carry could be traded for an asset that actually generates profit. The arbitrage opportunity that exists in that space, and the market formed by it, is sometimes called the carry trade, or the currency carry trade where it applies to currency. Continue reading...

What is currency depreciation?

The value of a currency can depreciate in relation to the value of other currencies or to another benchmark. Currencies can have their value determined by the cost of a basket of consumer goods from one period to another, but this is really just a measure of inflation. Inflation (or “deflation”) is a subset of the appreciation/depreciation metric, but changes in the exchange rates between currencies are typically seen as the most relevant measure of a currency’s value. Continue reading...

What is a currency peg?

The currency pairs you are most familiar with, such as EUR/USD or USD/JPY, are floating currencies, meaning that their value changes freely with market forces. Some countries have chosen to peg their currency to another currency, most commonly the USD. The exchange rate between their currency and the peg currency never changes, unless policy makers tweak things slightly. Currencies can also be pegged to commodities or baskets of other currencies. Pegged currencies are not discussed often in the Forex market because their value is tied directly to the value of another, more liquid floating currency, or to a basket of currencies, or to a commodity. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Guarantee?

When a lending institution offers a Bank Guarantee, they are reducing the risk involved in a transaction by guaranteeing payment to the seller. Bank Guarantees often come into play with deals made internationally, where the participants in the deal prefer to have some assurances before they do business. The guarantee acts as insurance to protect the parties involved in transactions where they are not fully able to assess the strength and reliability of the other, such as when small companies bid for projects or when bids for a job come-in from around the world. Continue reading...

What is currency in circulation?

Currency in circulation tends to be defined as the currency held by commercial banks, and currency with the public, without including long-term deposits or investments. As much as 2/3rd of Currency in Circulation is held outside of the borders of the US, and is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion as of 2016. Currency in Circulation is one part of what’s known as the money supply. Money supply is divided into four levels: M0, M1, M2, and M3. Some might define currency in circulation as the larger part of M0, which is the money base, constituted by the currency held in commercial banking institutions and excluding central bank reserves / Federal funds. This definition disregards the Currency with Public, which is included in other definitions and is part of M1. Continue reading...

What is a currency swap?

In a currency swap, institutions will enter into an arrangement lasting anywhere from 1 to 30 years, in which they loan each other an equal principal amount at the current exchange rate, lending out their currency and taking a loan in a foreign currency, and paying an interest rate in foreign currency to their lending counter-party. Institutions that engage in a currency swap (also called a cross-currency swap) seek to increase their exposure or liquidity in a foreign currency, and in some cases seek to take advantage of favorable interest rates in the arrangement. In fact, a currency swap can be considered a variation on an interest rate swap, except that in this case, a notional principal is exchanged at the onset. Continue reading...

What is a currency pair?

Currency exchange rates are discussed in terms of currency pairs, where you say how much of a given currency it would take to equal one unit of another currency. The single-unit currency is the “base” currency in the pair, and it appears as the second currency or denominator in the comparison. The base currency is always implied to be 1 unit, so only the value of the other currency in the pair is stated in the exchange rate quote. Continue reading...

What is currency risk?

Countries, investors, and international businesses have to frequently assess currency risk, which is the chance that exchange rates will change unfavorably at inopportune times. An investment in a foreign security or company, or income payments coming from foreign sources, can be at risk for exchange rate changes. If an investor or company has financial interests which are based in another currency, or if the investor engages in Forex trading, currency risk looms over the future value of the holdings, on top of any typical market risk. Continue reading...

What is currency substitution?

Currency Substitution can be an official or ad hoc occurrence in a country whose commerce is partially, or fully, conducted using the currency of another country. Some currencies which are pegged to another currency at a fixed rate (especially at whole integers) are domestically exchanged in the same manner that the local currency is. Many countries have completely adopted the currency of another country, and do not have a central bank of their own. Continue reading...

What factors affect currency exchange rates?

Currency exchange rates will fluctuate with various macroeconomic factors such as inflation, interest rates, trade balance, and so on, as well as political climate. Currency exchange rates are influenced by a number of factors, with some experts listing 5, some experts listing as many as 10. The main variables that will affect exchange rates are inflation rates, interest rates, the trade balance / current account, speculation in Forex markets, and government policies and interventions. Continue reading...

What is FOREX?

Forex is the common name for the Foreign Exchange market, an international network of currency trading that is active 24/7. Forex is by far the most active and highest-volume market in the world, because it involves large trades between international institutions in an effort to diversify or consolidate their exposure to various currencies. Individual traders can also participate, usually by trading nano-lots, which are 100-unit increments of currency. Continue reading...