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How to use the MACD in trading?

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a frequently used momentum indicator composed of several moving average lines. A MACD line is plotted by using the exponential moving average (EMA) over 12-day periods and subtracting the EMA of 26-day periods. A “signal line” – the 9-day EMA – is then plotted on top of the MACD line. A histogram is also usually included to indicate the divergence between the signal line and the MACD. When the MACD and the signal line cross paths, these points of convergence are widely used as trading indicators that trends are starting or ending. Continue reading...

What is a Moving Average Ribbon?

A moving average ribbon is created by plotting many incremental moving average lines on top of the same price chart. The visual relationship of the moving averages can help reveal crossover points, which traders can use as trade signals. As with other crossover indicators, the shorter-term moving average lines will tend to move more than the longer-term ones, and the degree of momentum that the crossovers imply increases for moving average lines of lengthier look-back periods. Continue reading...

What is an Uptrend?

An uptrend is a continuous upward movement in a stock's price. An uptrend is an upward movement over a few increments of time (whatever time increment being used), where the successive numbers being compared continue to increase. The parameters being compared might be just peaks, just troughs, closing prices, or averages, but formally it is defined as increased in successive peaks and troughs both. Continue reading...

What is divergence analysis?

The analysis of convergence and divergence between indexes and other data seeks to find leading indicators where there is confirmation or non-confirmation of trends. Dow Theory was one of the first examples of such thinking. Charles Dow would watch the movements of Industrials and the Rail and compare the uptrend or downtrend of each. Where trends do not line up (e.g., one is trending downward with lower troughs and the other has “higher lows”) there is “divergence”, and non-confirmation of what was thought to be a trend in one index. Continue reading...

How to Trade Moving Averages: The Golden Cross?

The Golden Cross is a breakout candlestick pattern formed when the short term 50-day moving average for a security exceeds its long term 200-day average, backed by high trading volumes. Investors typically interpret this crossover as a harbinger of a bull market, and its impact can reverberate throughout index sectors. The longer time horizons tend to increase the predictive power of the Golden Cross. As seen in the chart in this example, a trader may view the moment when a 50-day moving average (blue line) crosses above a 100-day or 200-day moving average (red line) as a bullish sign for the stock or security. A trader may consider taking a long position in the security, or perhaps explore call options to take advantage of the potential upside. Continue reading...

What is Freddie Mac?

Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored company which purchases mortgages from banks and securitizes them for sales to investment banks or individuals. Freddie Mac is not a government organization, but was established by a congressional mandate in the 1970’s. It’s proper name is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC). The company’s purpose is to make mortgage debts into marketable securities by purchasing the mortgage risk and cash flow from banks and dividing into tranches which are sold to or through investment banking institutions. The securitized mortgages are known as Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, or CMO’s. Continue reading...

What are Simple and Exponential Moving Averages?

Moving averages are important components of many technical indicators. A simple moving average determines the average of a range of closing prices for a security or index for a specific period of time. An exponential moving average is a moving average that gives more weight to the most recent data. Simple moving averages are not weighted for time the way that exponential moving averages are, which has the effect of snapping the chart to the most current information, while simple moving averages have lag. Continue reading...

What Kinds of Overlays are Used in Chart Patterns?

Overlays are technical supplements which help to interpret the data of a normal price chart. Often a chart program will allow the user to pick a few different overlays at a time, to help him or her get a better idea of what is going on with the price. Some common overlays include moving average lines, Bollinger Bands, Ichimoku clouds, and channel lines. An overlay or series of overlays will appear as additional lines, shading, or other graphics on a price chart. An overlay helps a trader or analyst interpret the price data in the context of other data, by putting the other data right on top of it. Continue reading...

What is the FHFA?

The Federal Housing Finance Association is the Conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since the 2008 meltdown. The FHFA was established as an independent government entity to oversee the secondary mortgage market. The FHFA is a regulatory agency which took over for the Federal Housing Finance Board and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). It was created in 2008 by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA), and it oversees the operations of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the 11 federal home loan (FHL) banks. If you’ll recall, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide liquidity to banks and transfer risk from them by buying their mortgage cash flows from them. 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 the Home Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP)?

HASP came into being in 2009 in response to the housing market crash that made life very difficult for many Americans. Also known as the Making Home Affordable Plan. It called for the creation of various programs and support for lending institutions, consumers, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Program (HASP) has three main parts. Part one is to aid responsible homeowners who are suffering from falling home prices and have become underwater on their mortgages. 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 Ginnie Mae?

Ginnie Mae is the colloquial name for the Government National Mortgage Association, or GNMA. It brokers mortgage-backed securities which are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Among Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, only Ginnie Mae is actually owned by the government and issues securities which are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Ginnie Mae’s mission is to increase liquidity and decrease risk to mortgage lenders so that Americans are able to purchase homes. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Company?

Most mortgage companies today are brokerages that do not underwrite or fund the loans themselves. They help to place customers with the most competitive loans that make sense for their situation and personal finances. Many small mortgage companies went bankrupt in the housing bubble of 2008. Mortgage companies are known as loan originators since they pair customers with loans that suit them and get the process started. Some companies also fund mortgage loans, but most are basically brokerage services that do not lend the money themselves. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Home Loan Bank Act?

The Federal Home Loan Bank Act was signed into law by President Hoover in 1932. The goal of the legislation was to make liquidity more accessible to banks for the purpose of making home loans, so that more Americans could acquire permanent residences. The bill established the FHL Bank system, which now consists of 11 FHL banks. The Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 established the FHL Bank system, which is a co-operative banking network for banks and other lending institutions who make home loans. The FHL banks are owned by their member institutions, who purchase stock in the bank and are then permitted to take loans out from it, using that money to provide loans to customers. Continue reading...

What is a Jumbo Loan?

A jumbo loan is a mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming loan limits set by the Office of Federal Enterprise Housing Oversight. For borrowers with low debt to income ratios and good credit scores, jumbo loans are often utilized for purchases of larger or luxury homes. Often times jumbo loans are too large in size to be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and are securitized in other ways. Continue reading...

What is Housing Expense Ratio?

When deciding whether to issue a mortgage loan to a customer, a bank or lender will look at the housing expense ratio, which is the annual cost of the mortgage payments, including all insurance and expenses related to owning the property, divided by the gross income of the individual. Gross income is used because tax deductions can be taken for mortgage payments. If a proposed mortgage leaves the borrower with a housing expense ratio (HER) over 28%, they will usually not be approved for this mortgage loan. The HER is found by dividing all annual costs associated with the new home with the gross annual income of the (proposed) borrower. 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...

What was the Subprime Meltdown?

A high volume of loans issued to those who were unable to repay them, and a high volume of derivative securities traded on top of these loans, contributed to the subprime meltdown of 2007-2009. A large amount of collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and other collateralized debt were owned by large institutions and investors as alternative high yield investments prior to the crash of 2007-2009. Continue reading...

What is a Housing Bubble?

Bubbles form in markets when there is such a large amount of demand that it drives prices up to levels where it is no longer supported by inherent value. Bubbles have effects on an interconnected web of economic forces and institutions. It was postulated before 2008 that the housing market could not form a bubble in the same way the stock market could, but the subprime meltdown proved those theorists wrong. Bubbles are when a market suffers from unnatural price inflation due to speculation, bandwagon investing, and, to some extent, misinformation. Continue reading...