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What Happens When a Company Goes Bankrupt?

There is a hierarchy of which creditors and investors will be serviced first in the event that a company goes bankrupt. When a company goes bankrupt, it is unable to pay back the money that it borrowed. The higher the bond's rating, the less likely that the issuer will go bankrupt. To learn more about bond ratings, see “What are Bond Ratings?” The possibility of bankruptcy is the risk associated with investing in bonds - you can never know for sure if you will get your money back. Typically, bonds with higher coupons are riskier investments (again, the recurring theme of higher returns = higher risks!). For example, if you see a bond with a 30% coupon, there is (obviously) a greatly increased chance that the company will not be able to pay back your loan. Continue reading...

Why Should I Have a 401(k)?

There are many potential benefits to using a 401(k) for retirement savings. You can break down the primary benefits of a 401(k) to 3 things: 1) Tax-Deferred Growth: This is probably the most advantageous aspect of a 401(k). Not only is the money contributed to the account pre-tax, which lowers your current taxable income, but the money also grows without being taxed within the account. The effect produced by the tax-deferred growth is much more powerful than most imagine. Continue reading...

How Do Deductible and Non-Deductible IRAs Differ?

It is possible to make non-deductible contributions to an IRA, even if you have a qualified plan at work. Traditional IRAs are a good place to stash retirement money because of the tax treatment. Some people will choose to make contributions even when they are not deductible, which gives us two kinds of Traditional IRAs: deductible and non-deductible. Deductible IRAs provide a way to lower your taxes because you can deduct contributions to your IRA from your income. Nondeductible IRAs do not allow you to deduct your contributions, but they still retain their tax-deferred growth. Unlike a Roth, these after-tax contributions will be taxed upon withdrawal as income. Continue reading...

What are My Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan Investment Options?

Generally the same kind of investment options available in a 401(k) are present in these plans. Money Purchase and Profit Sharing Plans have several investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, fixed accounts, annuities, certificates of deposit, and a few others. Keep in mind that Money Purchase and Profit Sharing Plan investments are determined by the financial institution at which your plan is established. If you are opening a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, be sure to find out what investment options the financial institution offers and what fees may be charged to accounts per year, per trade, etc. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution From My Cash-Balance Plan?

Periodic distributions are one of the main ways that former employees enjoy the benefits of a Cash Balance plan. Yes, you can take periodic distributions from your cash-balance plan. As opposed to the other option (lump-sum distribution), opting for the periodic distribution can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. This Life Annuity option is mandated by law to be an option to participants of a cash balance plan. Continue reading...

Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?

Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?

Many people do not realize that their Social Security Benefits may be taxed. If you have a taxable income in retirement above a certain threshold, up to 85% of your social security benefits can be taxed. The calculation for the threshold income actually includes half of your social security benefits. Whether or not you trigger taxation on your benefits will depend on your “combined” income, which is a sum of your adjusted gross income (taxable income, which can include taxable sources such as qualified retirement plans), your nontaxable interest (from Muni bonds in particular, Roth IRAs are excludable), and half of your household Social Security benefits. Continue reading...

What is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change, over time, in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI is an important economic indicator, as it’s changes influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions and it gives an indication if an economy is experiencing adequate inflation. The most common reading on the CPI is % change from a previous period, with most developed economies generally striving for 2% annualized inflation. Continue reading...

What is a Closed-End Fund?

A closed-end fund is a collective investment model where a company raises a fixed amount of capital through a share offering. It’s also known as a closed-end investment, and it trades on a stock exchange just like a stock. Closed-end funds that are managed generally tend to focus on a specific sector or segment of the market. What is an Open-End Fund? What Should I Know About IPOs? Should I Buy IPOs For My Portfolio? Continue reading...

What is the FCC?

The Federal Communications Commission is a bipartisan regulatory body that oversees interstate communications media, grants licenses to entities which plan to use the bands available, and to some extent regulates the content of these communications in the public interest. Communications media, including radio, satellite, cable, telephone, and others, are overseen and regulated by the FCC. They help to standardize measures and regulate the commercial activity of the entities which seek to use these media, including licensing and content regulation. Continue reading...

What is a leading indicator?

What is a leading indicator?

Leading indicators are economic or price data which have some degree of correlation with a movement in the market or a stock price. Leading indicators tend to happen before the market or price movement occurs. Traders and economists use leading indicators frequently to prepare for what’s next; they are based on theory as well as empirical historical evidence but like all indicators, they do not have a 100% accuracy rate – past performance does not guarantee future results. Continue reading...