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What is a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?

CTRs (Currency Transaction Reports) are required filings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to report all transactions and deposits in cash (in any currency) worth over $10,000. This includes multiple transactions that add up to over $10,000. This rule is closely tied to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and reporting requirements which have become more stringent since the turn of the century. Continue reading...

What is active management?

Active management is the practice of attempting to outperform the market with selection and timing. Active management is a thoughtful and time-consuming approach to investing and is the opposite of Passive management. Active managers seek to outperform the benchmarks for their portfolio by researching and selecting stocks and other assets based on strategies and analysis methods thought to be superior. 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 Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. 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...

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 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 an Account Freeze?

An account freeze stops all pending transactions and does not honor new transaction requests for a financial depository account. A checking or savings account might be frozen at the prerogative of the banking institution or at the request of the account owner or government agency. Similarly an investment account might be frozen for breaking the terms of the account agreement with regards to trading activity or margin requirements, in addition to illegal activity or court order for another reason. Continue reading...

What is a market-on-close order?

A market-on-close order is used to execute a trade at the last possible moment before the market closes for the day. This may be an order to sell or buy. Market-on-close orders are instructions to execute a trade just before the market closes for the day, at the best price available at the time. The exchange will actually settle all of the market-on-close orders at the same price. Why would an investor enter this kind of trade order? Continue reading...

What is Account Activity?

Account activity is any credit or debit activity in a checking or savings account, or investments, withdrawals, dividends or fees in an investment account. Account activity is the transactional history that will appear in ledger statements from a checking, savings, money market, investment, or other kind of financial account. This usually refers to transactions that were originated by the account owner, such as buying and selling securities or withdrawing and depositing in bank accounts, but could also include activity such as dividends, interest, fees, and other sorts of automated activity generated by the custodial institution. Continue reading...

What is foreign debt?

Foreign Debt is also called International Debt or External debt. It is the amount of debt that is owed by one country to other countries or entities outside of the borrowing country’s borders. A country may find it easy to raise capital for operations and projects by issuing lots of bonds and taking on lots of debt obligations. If this proves to be unsustainable, or if the sheer amount of debt has investors worried, it can have significant detrimental effects and send an economy spiraling out of control. Continue reading...

What is Par Value?

Par value is the nominal value of a security (such as a stock or a bond) that is typically indicated on the certificate of ownership. Par value is most often associated with bonds, and refers to the amount that will be returned to the investor at the bond’s maturity. Par value of bonds is generally $100 or $1,000. Bonds traded on the open market are not generally bought and sold at par value, as they typically trade at a premium or a discount to par. Bond prices are influenced by interest rates, and have an inverse relationship with them. Continue reading...

What were the Biggest Insider Trading Scandals?

In 2007, Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio was convicted of making over $50 million dollars through illegal trades. Essentially, Nacchio knew that the company wasn’t doing well, while telling the public that it was on track to pursue highly exaggerated revenue gains. He capitalized on the inflated stock, and was, of course, caught and found guilty. He’s currently serving a six year prison sentence. Continue reading...

What is Times Interest Earned (TIE)?

Times Interest Earned (TIE) is also known as the interest coverage ratio, is a cash-flow analysis that compares the pre-tax earnings of a company to the total amount of interest payable on their debt obligations. A healthy ratio indicates that a company will probably not default on loan repayments. To compute this ratio, divide a company’s annual income before taxes by their annual interest payments on debt obligations. This ratio is not concerned with the actual principal due on loans since the principal amount is already pegged to some of the assets on the books of the company, and other fundamental equations will already factor that in. Continue reading...

What is currency depreciation?

The value of a currency can depreciate in relation to the value of other currencies or to another benchmark. Currencies can have their value determined by the cost of a basket of consumer goods from one period to another, but this is really just a measure of inflation. Inflation (or “deflation”) is a subset of the appreciation/depreciation metric, but changes in the exchange rates between currencies are typically seen as the most relevant measure of a currency’s value. Continue reading...

What can I find out about hedge funds?

Hedge funds have historically been very secretive. They still mainly fall under Regulation D and private-placement laws, but their reporting requirements have been slightly expanded after the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. Now, they are a little more transparent, but not fully. Up until the Dodd-Frank Act, it was basically impossible to know what hedge funds were investing in and who was involved. Hedge fund managers and their investment banks were under no obligation to report the holdings, and they generally avoided leaking any information about their market positions for fear of damaging their advantages. Continue reading...

What is Securitization?

Securitization is to turn an asset which would otherwise not be a liquid, tradable security, into one. Simply put, securitization turns assets into securities. The most common example when discussing securitization is mortgage-backed securities, in which the cash flow of interest and principal payments on mortgage loans has been pooled, cut up, and distributed for sale in the form of marketable securities which can be held by an everyday investor. The bank or institution who sold the mortgage-backed securities receives cash which they can loan out to more home-buyers. Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Period?

An accounting period is a specific time frame from which documents and records have been used by accountants to arrive at reported balances and statements. An accounting period can be a fiscal year, quarter, or month, or any other time frame for which reporting is being done. At any given time, there may be different accounting periods running. Books are kept and reports are made for different tiers of accounting periods. Continue reading...

What is a Reverse Stock Split?

A reverse stock split consolidates stocks at a certain ratio and reduces the number of shares outstanding while increasing the value of each share, as opposed to a regular stock split, which divides existing stocks into more shares which are worth less apiece. A normal stock split, which increases the number of shares an investor owns without increasing the total value of his or her interest in the company, has the benefit of increasing liquidity with the shares and possibly narrowing the bid/ask spread. A reverse stock split reduces the number of shares in circulation by effectively combining the existing shares at a certain ratio (such as, 2 shares now equals 1 share). Continue reading...

What is Tier 1 Capital?

Tier 1 Capital are the core asset holdings of a bank. They are disclosed, liquid, risk-averse assets, and are used by regulators to evaluate a bank's compliance with capital requirements. Banks lend out about as much money as they can in general. They must have capital on hand to absorb losses and remain solvent. The Basel Accord is an international agreement dealing with capital reserve requirements for banks, enacted after the meltdown of 2008. Continue reading...