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What is Foreign Investment Funds (FIF) tax?

New Zealand and Australia, in particular, have instituted a tax regime for offshore investments that fall into the definition of Foreign Investment Funds (FIFs). FIFs will generally be mutual fund companies that are based overseas, but can also include cash value life insurance underwritten by a foreign company and some stock portfolios from overseas stock exchanges. The US has the PFIC tax, which is a passive foreign investment corporation tax. The PFIC category generally applies to mutual funds or pooled investment companies from foreign countries. Continue reading...

What is passive investing?

Passive investing relies on market indices and unmanaged approaches to investing, with the idea being that attempting to beat the market is futile, especially if such attempts involve fees and speculation. Passive investing favors buy-and-hold strategies using no-load, low-fee index funds and other securities meant to be held long-term, in a portfolio allocation suiting the investor that will usually be rebalanced over time to prevent overweighting anything. Continue reading...

What is a foreign fund?

A foreign fund is a mutual fund that invests solely in companies abroad and does not invest in corporations owned in the US. Owning foreign companies can be a very good diversification strategy and is considered a core holding in the portfolio of most investors. Foreign exposure means that if the US economy hits a rough patch, you may have a hedge in the foreign fund if the companies or markets in other parts of the world are not entirely correlated. 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 active trading?

Active trading is the pursuit of returns in excess of market benchmarks. Investors are advised to have a diverse portfolio, to hedge against the risk of seeing future financial plans devastated due to significant losses in one holding. When attempting to diversify, investors will hear from the increasingly popular camp which believes that the best strategy is to use only passive index funds, which follow indexes using computer algorithms and have low expense ratios. Continue reading...

What is a Dividends Received Deduction?

A Dividends Received Deduction (DRD) is a tax deduction available to corporations when they are paid dividends from another corporation. This is a provision to reduce the number of times an amount of earnings can be taxed: company A, which is paying the dividend, will have already been taxed on it, and the shareholders of company B will be taxed as well, so the Dividends Received Deduction alleviates taxes at the intermediary stage when Company B receives it. Continue reading...

What are foreign currency effects?

Companies with significant operations or sales abroad will be affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. If the dollar strengthens relative to a foreign currency, the price paid for the goods in the country will not be worth as much domestically when the company converts their profits back to dollars. Some foreign currencies fluctuate much more than the US dollar does, but even the dollar can behave unpredictably. This can have a tremendous effect on the bottom line of companies engaged in significant amounts of business abroad. Continue reading...

What is foreign investment?

Foreign investment is the act of an individual or corporation, or institutional investor, acquiring a large stake in a company, which may be a controlling or non-controlling interest. When it is a controlling interest, it is known as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Foreign corporate expansion in terms of newly acquired domestic facilities and equity interest in domestic companies tends to be monitored by domestic governments. Continue reading...

What is an Active Index Fund?

Most index funds are known for using a completely passive strategy to track an index, but some take a more active approach. Some mutual funds track an index by passively using algorithms to buy the shares necessary to build a portfolio which closely replicates an index. Such a fund will have low turnover, will only rebalance slightly based on the market cap or other criteria set forth in the prospectus, and will basically ride out all of the ups and downs of the index in a blind faith for the efficient market hypothesis. 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 Chapter 15?

Chapter 15 bankruptcy is a newer type of bankruptcy filing that has only been around since 2005. It allows foreign companies access to the US bankruptcy court system in certain circumstances. This is part of the US’s compliance with international trade laws. Part of the aim of bankruptcy law is to preserve employment and protect investment. In an increasingly globalized economy it is understandable that the US could offer hearings to corporations which straddle national borders but are not based in the US. Continue reading...

What is the Shanghai Composite Index?

The “Shanghai” is an index measuring all shares that are traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange (China). The Shanghai Index - also referred to as the SSE Composite Index or simply “the Shanghai” - is an index measuring price changes of all A and B shares traded on China’s Shanghai Exchange. Many foreign investors have only limited access to trading shares on China’s main exchange, which makes price discrepancies likely. Continue reading...

What is the Hang Seng Index?

The Hang Seng Index (HSI) is comprised of the 50 biggest stocks traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The Hong Kong stock market is much different than that of China, in that foreign investors are allowed access and the index is calculated on a free floating cap-weighted basis. It tracks the 50 biggest companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and is a better barometer for measuring overall performance of companies from the region. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax deduction?

Workers who earn income in foreign countries will frequently pay taxes on the income in the country in which the wages were earned. In such cases the worker may be eligible to take deductions for the amount of taxes paid so that their entire income is not subject to taxes again in their country of citizenship. Ex-patriot workers who earn income overseas are generally eligible for tax deductions, credits, or exclusions to account for the taxes that they have already paid on their income in the foreign country. Continue reading...

What is the foreign corrupt practices act?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act attempts to reduce the possibility that a corporation with American affiliations will engage in the bribery of foreign officials. The act was created in 1977 and has since been amended and expanded several times. The SEC and the Department of Justice are both responsible for enforcing the FCPA, which is a law designed to prevent US-based companies from engaging in corrupt practices abroad. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax credit?

A foreign tax credit (or deduction) allows a citizen who earned income in another country to reduce the amount of domestic income taxes owed if the foreign government has already taxed the income abroad. Workers who earn income in a foreign country may be entitled to a credit or deduction on their domestic income taxes if they show that this income was already taxed by the foreign government where the income was earned. In the US, there are at least three types of foreign income tax exemptions, with a foreign tax credit being one of them. Continue reading...

What are foreign deposits?

Foreign deposits are taken in by international branch locations of US-based banking institutions. Banks are not obligated to pay FDIC premiums on these deposits. Foreign deposits are placed by customers into a US-based bank branch which is located in international locations. Because it is outside of Federal jurisdiction, banks are not subject to the same capital reserve requirements and do not have to pay FDIC insurance on the deposits. 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 are Actively-Managed ETFs?

At their conception, ETFs only tracked indexes, but today there is also demand for actively-managed ETFs. ETFs tend to look a lot like passive index mutual funds, except that they can trade intra-day like stocks, while mutual funds only settle within 24 hours. In the last decade or so, there has been an increasing market for actively-managed ETFs as well. It is somewhat ironic that the popularity of actively-managed mutual funds has decreased while an abundance of actively-managed ETFs has appeared. The popularity of ETFs has grown enough for fund managers to attempt more and more things. Continue reading...

What is a Dividend Tax Credit?

In Canada, the dividend tax credit eliminates tax liability for eligible dividends. Eligible dividends can come from public companies, foreign-owned companies operating in Canada, and many privately owned companies. It allows Canadian citizens to avoid having their dividends double-taxed. Canada offers a dividend tax credit that allows investors to eliminate their taxes on dividends paid from eligible companies. Continue reading...