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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 market-maker spread?

The difference between the Bid and Ask prices on a stock or other security are known as the Spread. Designated market makers are traders whose job it is to make a market for securities, by offering to buy or sell shares, and thus creating liquidity, often at the same time. Their money is made on the spread. In highly liquid markets, the spread will shrink. So if everyone is buying and selling the same stock one day, there may be virtually no spread between the Bid and the Ask price, and this is seen as efficient. Continue reading...

What is foreign aid?

Wealthy countries and non-government organizations frequently donate or lend resources to help the population of a country in dire economic need. This can come in the form of educational assistance, funds, materials, construction, food, medicine, and so on. On a macroeconomic scale, foreign aid constitutes one of the major forms of asset transfer between different parts of the world. Governments, charitable organizations, and NGOs donate or lend resources to countries that cannot supply their own needs effectively. Aid can be given altruistically, that is, just for the sake of doing good deeds, or it can be used as a tool for influence or personal gain, which is common. Continue reading...

What is a Money Market?

Money markets are very short duration debt securities, essentially the equivalent of cash traded between banks and offered to investors at a very nominal interest rate. Money market securities are essentially IOUs issued by governments, financial institutions and large corporations, and they’re traded between each other in very high denominations. Retail investors can gain access to money markets via money market funds, which generally pay very low interest rates. Continue reading...

What are International Equity Funds?

International equity funds hold stocks of corporations based outside of the United States. International equity funds invest mostly in the stock of overseas companies. People purchase shares of such funds as a means of globally diversifying their portfolio. There is some degree of currency risk involved in international investments, which may necessitate a currency hedging strategy if an investor is heavily invested across the globe. Continue reading...

What is a Market Maker?

A market maker is a broker-dealer firm or a registered individual that will hold a certain number of shares of a security in order to facilitate trading. There could be as many as 50 market makers for one particular security, and they compete for customer order flows by displaying buy and sell quotations for a guaranteed number of shares. The market maker spread refers to the difference between the amount a market maker is willing to pay for a security and the amount that the other party is willing to sell it. Continue reading...

What does out of the money (OTM) mean?

If an option on an underlying security does not have a strike price giving the option holder the ability to exercise the option for a profit (based on the current market price of the underlying security) that option is “Out of The Money.” An option is Out Of The Money (OTM) if it isn’t profitable for the option holder to exercise it. Options have a strike price that contractually defines the amount which will be paid for the underlying security if the option is exercised. Continue reading...

What is the foreign credit insurance association?

The Foreign Credit Insurance Association protects American businesses from non-payment in international trade deals where goods were sold on credit. The Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA) is a group of insurance companies which underwrite the foreign credit insurance sold by the Export-Import Bank of Washington DC. The Export – Import Bank, also known as the Ex/Im Bank, is an independent government entity that facilitates and encourages some international trade activity of American companies. Continue reading...

Learn Options Trading

Options are contracts used by investors to take a speculative position – or a hedge – based on expected future price movements of the underlying securities. An option is a contract which can be exercised if the price of an underlying security moves favorably. An option will be written or sold short by one investor and bought by another. It will name the strike price at which the security can be bought or sold before the expiration of the contract. 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 is a Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI)?

When foreigners purchase shares of domestic companies that represent less than 10% of the voting shares in the companies, and the investments are not those of company expansion or market penetration, but rather to add diversification to the foreigners’ investment portfolios, it is known as Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI). FPI is the passive investing that foreigners do in a domestic market. It is separate from investments that companies might make into joint ventures or purchase facilities or acquire controlling interest in a domestic company — all of those are active investing and are usually called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). FPI can be done by individuals or institutional investors. Institutional investors might run a mutual fund or pension fund in another country. Continue reading...

What is a REPO?

REPO is shorthand for Repurchase Agreement. It is a money-market practice where two entities agree to buy/sell government securities overnight and reverse the transaction the next day for the sake of providing the selling entity with short-term cash. Repurchase Agreements provide the selling party with short term liquidity, and are considered a money-market instrument. A third party usually acts as a clearing agent. Continue reading...

What is a foreign institutional investor?

Institutional investors are corporations, banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other forms of pooled capital which act as one entity to engage in securities transactions in the best interest of the constituents or company that they represent. Foreign Institutional Investors are those whose company is based in another country. Investments made on behalf of foreign companies, foreign financial institutions, and foreign funds (such as the foreign equivalent of hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds) are foreign institutional investments. There are usually reporting requirements for both the foreign government for the county in which the interests are held and for the domestic government of the institutional investor. Continue reading...

What is Yield?

Yield is a term which describes the cash return on a security investment, and does not include appreciation. Yield is the cash paid out of an investment in the form of dividends and interest received. The term does not encompass the appreciation of the investment, and it may be evaluated in different ways for different types of investments, so comparisons of yield across asset types is not standardized or recommended. Continue reading...

What is the Accounting Cycle?

The Accounting Cycle includes all of the documentation that is collected and all of the controls and systems in place to ensure accurate accounting. The Accounting Cycle begins with the point of sale, with documentation for the transaction (invoice or receipt) and the internal expenses and inventory. There are conventions, controls and systems in place to account for and control the flow of information in a company at each stage of the process to ensure that accounts are as accurate as possible. The Accounting Cycle may refer to the length of time between trial balances, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Reconciliation Statement?

It is a useful practice to compare the balance reported by the bank and your internal accounting, in the form of a Bank Reconciliation Statement. Bank Reconciliation is the useful practice of comparing the records of the bank and a business's internal accounting for a specific accounting period. Many businesses produce Bank Reconciliation Statements (BRS) on a monthly basis. There may be pending transactions that have not settled yet, such as outstanding checks to vendors, which have shown up on the business’s books but are not represented in the bank account balance. It can be important to identify which transactions have shown up on the bank’s ledger and which ones have not. 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 the Federal Reserve System?

The Federal Reserve System was established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which created a network of reserve banks that could help to prevent economic meltdowns by serving as a regulator and a source of funds. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks which monitor banks in their jurisdiction and make loans when necessary. The Federal Reserve System is sometimes referred to as one bank, but it is in fact a network of 12 banks with 24 branches, overseen by a Board with members nominated by the US Government. Continue reading...

What Does Ripple Do?

Ripple does several things, serving as a protocol for decentralized currency exchange and transfers of value, primarily focused on the financial service industry. Ripple’s defining characteristic is probably its interface for inter-ledger payments and settlements, meaning the ledgers of other blockchains and the database systems of banks can be seamlessly integrated to offer validation and record-keeping with a reliability and speed that was heretofore unheard-of. Ripple cuts out as many middlemen as possible and dramatically reduces the transaction costs and time required for cross-border money transfers, while also significantly reducing some of the risks inherent to international trade, like counter-party risk. Continue reading...

What is the XRP Escrow Lock-Up?

Ripple does not have a mining rewards system like Bitcoin for releasing new coins into the market, so they’ve enacted a plan to put 55 billion XRP into escrow accounts. Prior to 2017, Ripple did not offer any guarantees to coin-holders concerning the rate at which Ripple would release XRP coins into the wild, and this made investors nervous. At any moment, Ripple theoretically could have dumped the approximately 60 billion remaining XRP into the market and washed out any value that the investors... Continue reading...