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What is a credit rating?

A credit rating is given to a company or debt issue after a disinterested third party evaluates the strength of the business or cash flow and rates its ability to pay all of its liabilities. Third-party institutions such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch will conduct research in order to give investors an idea of how likely a business, bond issue, or insurance company can pay all of its obligations. Continue reading...

What are Bond Ratings?

The possibility of a company or municipal government defaulting on their bond obligations, usually by going bankrupt, is a real one. For this reason, all bonds are rated according to the financial stability of the issuer. A look at the history of corporate and municipal debt will illuminate the fact that the possibility of the issuer being unable to pay its obligations to bondholders is a very real one. There is an established system of bond ratings that gives a rough estimate of the bond's reliability. Continue reading...

What is the Fiduciary Standard?

The Fiduciary Standard stipulates that an advisor must place the client’s best interests first. The best way to understand the fiduciary standard is to think in terms of another standard, called the suitability standard. The suitability standard says that a broker/advisor need only recommend investment products that are “suitable” for the client - but those investments do not necessarily have to be in the client’s best interests. Continue reading...

What is the Suitability Standard?

The suitability standard states that a broker-dealer is obliged to, in the very least, make investment recommendations that are suitable for their clients. The SEC defines a broker as someone who acts as an agent for someone else, and a dealer as someone who acts as a principal for their own account. The suitability standard only details that the broker-dealer has to reasonably believe that any recommendations made are suitable for clients (in terms of the client’s financial needs, objectives and unique circumstances) instead of having to place his/her interests below that of the client. An example would be a broker recommending a proprietary bond fund for a client looking for a fixed income solution. Continue reading...

What is standard deviation?

Standard Deviation is a measurement of how far from the average (mean) the majority of a data set lies. Standard Deviation is a measure of variability, and it is on a different scale for each data set being measured; there is no “standard” standard deviation. It is possible to normalize it for comparison to other data sets using measurements like r-squared and the sharpe ratio. The number arrived at when computing standard deviation is going to reveal the distance, in terms of one of the quantifiable variables being observed, from the average, in either a positive or negative direction, within which 68% of the data set falls. Continue reading...

What is a commodity pool?

Commodity pools are like the REITs of the commodity world, and some of them can be categorized as hedge funds or managed futures accounts (MFAs). Accredited investors, who meet qualifying requirements regarding income and total net worth, pool their money to be managed by a commodity pool operator (CPO) or commodity trading advisor (CTA) for the purpose of investing in commodities and commodity derivative instruments. Continue reading...

What are Bitcoin Mining Pools?

Individuals who do not have the computing power to compete with large bitcoin mining operations can join a mining pool and split the rewards. Mining pools allow individuals with insufficient computing power to join a mining pool and split the rewards proportionally to the amount of computer power that they contributed. If a user contributes 3% of the computing power that it took for the pool to solve a block, that user will receive 3% of the reward. Continue reading...

What are “Dark Pools” of Money?

Large institutional investors sometimes trade on “Electronic Trading Crossing Networks," which allow them to conduct trades without publicly exposing them. They are used by financial institutions to move large blocks of shares without public investors even knowing about such transactions. Such examples of networks are “Liquidnet,” “Pipeline,” “SIGMA X,” and many others. It might be difficult to fathom the size of the transactions conducted over these networks, but the ownership of dark pools involves almost every institutional trading house. This is a huge business and regulators are carefully looking into their activities. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted EBITDA?

Basically synonymous with Normalized EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP method of making earnings valuations a little more standardized between companies. Adjusted Earnings is a valuation that has many moving parts in the form of the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that might be included there, in addition to the non-GAAP nature of the methods. EBITDA removes all of those moving parts and looks at the Earnings before any of the other arithmetic interferes, hence the name Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Continue reading...

How Do You Set Up a Bitcoin Miner?

Setting up a bitcoin miner can be as simple as downloading a mining client program, or as complicated as building a custom rig. Bitcoin mining used to be cheaper and easier to do than it is today, but it can still be relatively simple to execute. In the past, a computer with a CPU could crunch through enough hashes to solve a few blocks and turn a profit. Now, a good GPU, that is, a Graphics Processing Unit card connected to the motherboard of a computer, or a series of GPUs, is par for the course because they can perform many times as many hashes per second than a CPU can alone. This is the case even if the CPU has several cores, and it just has to do with the way that GPUs handle their work. Continue reading...

What is a Life Annuity?

Annuities are primarily designed to pay a substantially similar sum at regular intervals until the annuitant dies. Life insurance companies write these contracts since they are designed as a kind of longevity insurance. A lifetime income annuity, sometimes called a life annuity, is a stream of guaranteed payments for the duration of the annuitant’s life, based on the sum used to purchase the lifetime income and the age of the annuitant at the time of purchase. Life annuities can also be joint-life, meaning the contract will pay an amount to either of two people as long as one is alive. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage Suitability?

Mortgage suitability is a standard that does not technically exist in a regulatory way at this point, even though some legislators and consumer protection groups have sought such a standard. Some financial services representatives, for instance, operate under a suitability standard that takes the financial situation and goals of the individual into account when making investment recommendations. This protects consumers to the extent that it deters some professionals from taking advantage of the consumer and being possibly subject to fines, sanctions, and suspension or loss of license due to violations of the standard. Continue reading...

What is coefficient of variation?

A coefficient of Variation is a statistical measure of expected return relative to the amount of risk assumed. It’s also known as “relative standard deviation,” which makes sense since that implies that your expected risk is adjusted based on the expected return. You can easily calculate the Coefficient of Variation by dividing the standard deviation of the security by its expected return. Continue reading...

What is Acquisition Accounting?

Also known as Business Combination Accounting, there are specific guidelines and bits of information that must be documented on the books during an acquisition. Acquisition Accounting is a standardized way to account for the assets and liabilities of companies who are part of a merger or acquisition. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) stipulate that even in a merger where a new company is formed, one company must play the role of acquirer and the other of acquiree, but that rule really only applies outside of the US. Continue reading...

Who Establishes a 401(k)?

Employers make the decision to establish a 40(k), but it has to be good enough for employees to want to participate. An employer is responsible for establishing a 401(k) and for overseeing it as the sponsor and fiduciary. A self-employed individual can also establish an Individual 401(k), which has the same contribution limits and requires none of the testing or auditing of a regular plan. Other options for work-site retirement plans are SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and various kinds of profit-sharing and deferred compensation arrangements. Continue reading...

What is a resistance line?

A resistance line is the inverse of a support line and represents the glass ceiling through which a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines are calculated as part of analysis methods which use moving averages and standard deviation, or similar calculations, to put a range of probability on the expected movement of a security price, with the resistance line representing the top of that range. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

What is Volatility?

Volatility is a measure of the variance, deviation, or movement of a stock. Volatility is all the extra movement of a stock or other security over and above (and below) a line of averages. Put another way, it is a measure of how many changes in price, and by how much, a security experiences over an amount of time. Computations of Standard Deviation and Variance are measures of the degree of volatility which exists in the movement of a stock. Volatility will also be measured relative to a benchmark index, and the degree to which a security adheres or deviates from the benchmark is called Beta. People will also trade on derivatives of the VIX, which is the volatility index of the S&P 500. Continue reading...

What is Sharpe Ratio?

The Sharpe Ratio is a risk-weighted metric for returns on investment. It measures whether an investment offers a good return for the amount of risk assumed by the investor. The risk/return trade-off is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions – if an investor seeks greater returns, they will have to take on greater risk. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

How to use Bollinger Bands in trading?

Bollinger Bands were developed by famous trader John Bollinger as a technical analysis tool to discern the likely trading range of a security. A Bollinger Band is typically two standard deviations from a moving average line, both above and below the average. Standard deviation is another word for the average volatility of a price over a length of time. It is typical for a trader looking up the historical price chart for a security to compare it to a moving average line. Continue reading...