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What is a hedge fund?

Hedge funds are private investment groups that attract high net worth individuals (and in some cases institutions), and use investment strategies that may be riskier than would be suitable for the average investor. While the name "hedge" implies that the fund serves a defensive purpose, today’s hedge funds use wide array strategies, and more often than not the goal is total return. The strategies used are often speculative, contrarian, or alternative compared to most investment options in say mutual funds or traditional long-only asset managers. Continue reading...

Why do Companies Opt for ICOs?

Initial Coin Offerings are ways for new cryptocurrency or other technology companies to raise capital and put their coins into circulation. For companies too small to attract the attention of a big investment bank, this may be the best option for “going public.” In initial coin offerings, as opposed to using venture capital and initial public offerings of stock in regulated markets, the new company doesn’t actually give up any of their equity (i.e., control) in the company to third parties. Continue reading...

What is a Private Placement?

Investing in a private placement opportunity is done off-exchange, and usually involves a small number of investors who are either institutions or accredited private investors. There are many possibilities when it comes to the types of private placement investments that can be made, but the nature of the offering is that it is not public, it is made to a small number of institutional level or individual accredited investors (see Regulation D, Rule 505 and 506), and the offering is not registered with the SEC. Continue reading...

Where can I get information about private placements?

The short answer is, you can’t. Private placements have no reporting or registration requirements with the SEC or other entities. Sometimes this can be good for investors who enjoy the discretion. But it can also be a shield for unethical business people who prefer to avoid regulatory oversight. There is no source for detailed information about private placements unless you personally know a general partner who can describe to you his project, or who comes highly recommended with a lot of references. If an offering seeks to raise over $2 million in the capital in a year’s time, they are obligated under Regulation D to provide audited financial statements to the investors. Continue reading...

How can I invest in hedge funds?

Fund managers are allowed to accept up to 35 non-accredited investors, but for the most part you will either need to satisfy the “accredited investor” requirement of the SEC to invest directly in a hedge fund. Otherwise, there are now hedge fund indexes and ETFs that track and mimic hedge fund strategies that are accessible to everyone. You should know now that the minimum initial investment requirement to participate in a hedge fund can be quite large, such as upwards of $1 million. Continue reading...

Should I invest in private placements?

Different opportunities to invest in private placements may present themselves to wealthy individuals over time. Unless the opportunity comes from someone that you know and trust, and you have the ability to research the opportunity, it is probably something you should avoid. Private Placements are sometimes complex deals that cost people a lot of money. You should definitely have your guard up if one is pitched to you. In general, the company or partnership seeking the private placement will not have to register with the SEC or report their books accurately on a public record. Continue reading...

Can I Get Exposure to Virtual Currency Through ETFs, Mutual funds, or Stocks?

While there aren’t that many ways to use institutional-level, regulated vehicles to get exposure to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there are some, and the market will likely expand. Money managers are finding ways to offer managed investments that offer exposure to cryptocurrencies, despite the hurdles presented by regulators and skepticism from large financial companies. On the over-the-counter market OTCQX, you can buy shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust from Grayscale (Nasdaq: GBTC). This fund has seen massive gains recently but does come with a 2% fee. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has stated that it would like to start trading cryptocurrency futures, but it may be a little time before this becomes a reality, due to significant red tape and guidance needed regarding cryptocurrencies. Continue reading...

What should I know about private placements?

Private placements fall under Regulation D, usually, which stipulates the rules by which investors can be sought and placed into privately arranged contracts for equity investments. Private placements may be for non-public companies, or it may be a private offering of a publicly traded company. Regulation D stipulates the guidelines by which investors can engage in private investment without many reporting requirements. Continue reading...

What is a Credit Crunch?

A credit crunch is when access to liquidity dries up dramatically in rapid fashion, or becomes less accessible due to a spike in borrowing rates. Central banks will often step-in to try and curb the lack of liquidity by offering the markets access to cash at lower than market rates, in the event of a crisis. Perhaps the most famous credit crunch in history occurred in late 2007 and early 2008, when bank balance sheets became highly leveraged overnight due to mark-to-market accounting rules that were applied to the mortgage backed security portfolios on their balance sheets. Continue reading...

What is the minimum investment in a typical hedge fund?

Hedge funds can require initial investments that are quite large. This may be somewhere between $250,000 to $10,000,000. They will generally only accept Accredited Investors, meaning high net worth individuals that pass SEC standards which exempt the fund from some reporting and disclosure requirements. While the minimum investment varies, most Hedge Funds will accept only so-called accredited investors. Continue reading...

What is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit is a provided by a bank or financial institution on behalf of a borrower or buyer, to ensure the seller that payments will be made on time and in full. In the event that the buyer is unable to make payment on the purchase, the bank will have to step-in to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase. Letters of credit are often used in international transactions to guarantee that payment will be received. Continue reading...

What is Credit Debt?

Credit debt or credit card debt is a type of consumer debt that is incurred through a short-term revolving loan facility. The most common of course is a credit card company issuing a card to a client to make purchases, with the client being responsible for minimum payments plus whatever interest rate applicable. Removing credit card debt from one’s balance sheet is often an effective way of improving your financial life. Continue reading...

What are credit derivatives?

Stemming from the hedging strategy of Credit Default Swaps, an entire speculative derivatives market continues to grow, in which tranches of credit risk and indices are traded. With the ballooning of consumer credit in recent years, it is only natural that a credit derivatives market would follow it. In essence, the risk associated with a loan or bond is separated from the actual asset and is passed on to a counter-party for a premium, and then other market participants become involved, perhaps in the form of futures contracts or other derivatives. Continue reading...

What is Bank Credit?

Bank Credit is the amount of loaned capital that an individual or business is capable of getting from a bank at a given time. This amount will be based on a series of evaluative metrics such as the total amount of assets an individual has, home equity, income, liquid net worth, work history, credit rating, and so forth. An individual can only borrow so much at a time, and, using these variables, a banker can essentially estimate how much credit could be extended that a given individual at that time. Continue reading...

What is Bad Credit?

Bad credit implies that an individual or business has a low credit score or rating. Credit histories are reported and kept in publicly accessible databases. FICO (Fair Isaac & Company) is a credit rating institution that gives individuals a credit rating score based on reported credit histories. Scores range from 300-850, generally, but they also issue ratings based on auto loans and credit cards, which are on a scale from 250-900. Continue reading...

What is a Credit Spread?

Credit Spread is an indication of the default risk perceived in corporate bonds at the current time. The credit spread is the difference between the yield on the safest bonds and the riskiest bonds. How much does it cost corporations to issue bonds, in terms of the yield expected by investors in the current market? Typically, a higher spread indicates a more unstable economy. Buyers of large quantities of bonds tend to insure their purchases, and the cost of the insurance is usually reflected in so-called CDS's (Credit Default Swaps). The more expensive the CDS's are, the more risky it is to purchase the bond. Continue reading...

AAA/Aaa — credit rating

AAA — S&P / Fitch Aaa — Moody’s AAA/Aaa rated bond issues have an almost nonexistent chance of defaulting, according to the major ratings institutions that issue the ratings. AAA/Aaa is the highest rating a bond issue or company can get. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, many companies, and the US Government itself, were downgraded from AAA to AA+. Only two companies in the US still retain the AAA rating: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Continue reading...

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+ — S&P / Fitch B1 — Moody’s B+/B1 is within the range of ratings given to High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk bonds. B+/B1 is the 14th rating rating from the top rating of AAA/Aaa in the scales used by the Big Three credit ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. They evaluate the fundamentals of companies, municipal entities, and their bond contracts to determine how much risk of default is present. The limit for the category of Investment Grade bonds is BBB-, and there are a few categories of BB above B. Continue reading...

B/B2 — credit rating

B — S&P / Fitch B2 — Moody’s A bond issue that has a moderate chance of default but a high yield might be given a B2/B rating by the major ratings institutions. Bonds are rated based on their risk of default by the Big Three ratings institutions: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. The latter two use the same symbols, so if the algorithms and analysts at the two ratings institutions come to similar conclusions, a company might have the same rating from each of them, such as the “B” in this example. B2/B ratings are the 15th ratings down the scale from the top rating of AAA/Aaa. 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...

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