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What is a Home Debtor?

In contrast to the term “home owner,” home debtor is reserved for those who will seemingly never be able to pay off the mortgage(s) on their home, or who have already defaulted. Most Americans live in homes that they pay on, but are still primarily owned by the bank that loaned them money. Banks have insurance to protect them against mortgage defaults. Home mortgage loans are the primary way that Americans by homes today. Continue reading...

What is the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA)?

HERA was passed in 2008 in response to the subprime mortgage crisis that rocked the entire economy and left many Americans underwater on their mortgages. People would need to refinance their mortgages and this bill approved the funding to help that happen. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act did several things, all aiming to help American consumers and lending institutions get out of the recession left by the subprime mortgage bubble in 2008. Continue reading...

How Much Money Should I Set Aside for Emergencies?

Research suggests that more than half of adult Americans do not have sufficient savings needed for emergency purposes. Here’s a startling but true piece of information: most surveys conducted in the past few years indicate that more than half of adult Americans do not have any kind of emergency fund at all, and even fewer have enough to cover three months of living expenses in the event of an unexpected event, like job loss or health emergency. Continue reading...

How large are market fluctuations?

Fluctuations are represented in terms of volatility, and different types of investments experience different levels of volatility. The answer here depends on which market you’re talking about. Generally speaking, the capital markets in fixed instruments, such as government bonds, are the least volatile. Market fluctuations of the price of commodities, small-cap stocks, and emerging markets are the largest, and can be as high as 30-40% per year. Continue reading...

What is active money management?

Active management is when an investor or money manager attempts to outperform an index or benchmark, using tactical strategies. Many economists and financial professionals believe that the markets are efficient. This means that all available financial information has already been built into the prices of securities, and that you cannot outperform the market by making specific selections of stocks, timing the market, reallocating your assets regularly, following the advice of market pundits, or finding the best portfolio managers. Continue reading...

What is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?

In 2009 the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) commissioned the HARP program to help Americans upside-down on mortgages to get approved for mortgage refinancing. This is only available to people whose mortgages are already owned by Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many Americans find themselves upside-down, or underwater, on their home mortgages, particularly after the housing bubble popped in 2008. To be underwater means that there is more owed on the loan than the home can serve as collateral for. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Open Market Committee?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the monetary policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System. The FOMC makes the decision on “raising” or “lowering” interest rates, which refers to moves in the federal funds rate. The FOMC consists of 12 members, which is comprised of the seven members of the Board of Governors and 5 of the 12 Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York always has a seat on the FOMC, while the other presidents rotate for one year terms. This policy-making body meets eight times a year to decide monetary policy, which consists of setting the benchmark interest rate and make decisions regarding the supply of money. All dependent on economic conditions. Continue reading...

What is currency convertibility?

Currencies may work fine in a particular country or region, but it may happen that certain currencies are not convertible into other currencies or gold. Sometimes this is by choice, such as was formerly the case with closed economies like the People’s Republic of China, Soviet Russia, Cuba, and others. Most currencies are convertible into other currencies. Banks, at least the central banks of countries, tend to have reserves of most foreign currencies with their citizens do business. Continue reading...

What are Housing Bonds?

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 took several steps to patch up the housing market after the subprime meltdown, one of which was the authorization of states and municipalities to issue mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) which they could then use to help local lending institutions fund mortgages for lower-income Americans. Housing bonds are issued by state and local governments as a way to raise revenue that can help local banks and lending institutions fund mortgage loans to the community. Continue reading...

What Health Insurance Do I Need if I Don't Have a Job?

Unemployed people are still required to have health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will likely qualify for a federal subsidy to help you pay for it. Younger people can buy a catastrophic policy, which offers minimal coverage but can still help prevent eroding all of your savings in the event of a major accident. How Much Will Individual Health Coverage Cost? What is Medicare Part D? Continue reading...

What are Other Mutual Fund Classifications?

Let’s look at some of the classifications for mutual funds that are determined using criteria other than market cap and P/E ratios. What is Mutual Fund Classification According to the Price to Earnings Ratio? What is Mutual Fund Classification According to Market Capitalization? Besides the main classifications for equity mutual funds which are derived from market cap and price-to-earnings ratio, many other categories for mutual funds exist. These criteria may be based on how much exposure a fund has to a specific industry, sectors or geographical regions, as well as the types of management strategies that the fund uses and which kinds of assets are held. Continue reading...

What Does Asset Mean?

Any item of economic value that a person or entity owns, benefits from, or has use of in generating income. Assets can generally be converted to cash, but economic circumstances often determine whether the asset can be sold at fair value. Some common examples of assets are cash, stocks, paid-for real estate, inventory, office equipment, jewelry, artwork, or other property of value that can be counted towards a person’s estate or a corporation’s balance sheet. 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 is Income Inequality?

Income inequality is the difference in the average income of the lower/middle class and the upper class. Naturally the high income of very rich people in the country, which constitute a very small percentage of the population, will dwarf the average income of those who are not very rich. The worrisome thing is when the gap between them widens at an accelerating rate and the lower classes are not able to break through to the upper classes. Continue reading...

What are some strategies for diversifying a portfolio?

There are many ways to diversify a portfolio, but all of them center around a strategy of owning different types of asset classes. For equity investors, perhaps the best strategy for diversifying a portfolio is to own companies from different sectors in different style categories, maybe even across the globe. The S&P 500 has ten different sectors, and a very broadly diversified portfolio should have exposure to each one in some capacity. Continue reading...

What is a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?

CTRs (Currency Transaction Reports) are required filings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to report all transactions and deposits in cash (in any currency) worth over $10,000. This includes multiple transactions that add up to over $10,000. This rule is closely tied to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and reporting requirements which have become more stringent since the turn of the century. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage Fallout?

Mortgage fallout refers to the instance of proposed loans falling through before closing. This is something tracked by not only mortgage producers and their mortgage companies, but also economists who keep up with mortgages and the secondary market for mortgage derivatives. Since mortgages take two months or more to close, the fallout rate can indicate a stagnancy in the economy and trouble for the secondary mortgage market. Continue reading...

What is the Glass-Steagall Act?

The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 to place a dividing wall between commercial banking and investment banking. It was in an effort to protect consumers and the economy from the risks of speculative investment banking. JP Morgan and other large institutions were targeted. The act was partially repealed and replaced in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. After 2008, some opined that the repeal of the original act contributed to the financial crises, and they instituted the Volcker Rule, which reinstated part of the original Glass-Steagall act. Continue reading...

What is Bankruptcy Court?

Bankruptcy court is a special judicial proceeding which determines how a debtor can settle accounts and move on. Bankruptcy courts are always federal, and not state, courts. They were established in the Constitution and given structure by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. They give debtors a means of moving beyond debts that cannot be fully repaid. There are several kinds of bankruptcy filings (found here — ‘chapter 7-15’, some for individuals, some for businesses, some involving foreign entities or persons operating in the US. Some are for absolution and the dissolution of a business entity, and other filings are requests for partial debt forgiveness and reorganization of the entity. Continue reading...

What is the Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016. Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically. As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: Continue reading...