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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 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 Cash Flow from Investing Activities?

In the Cash Flow Statement, the cash flow in and out of investments, whether in shares of other companies or in capital assets, is recorded. The gains or losses from investment activities, including but not limited to shares of other companies (non-controlling interest) and the gains or losses experienced with subsidiaries, as well as negative cash flow or positive cash flow into or out of capital investment projects such as production infrastructure, are recorded in a portion of the Cash Flow Statement called Investing Activities. 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 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...

Who is an activist investor?

Activist investors buy enough voting shares to influence the decisions of a company, sometimes for political or moral reasons, sometimes for purely financial reasons. Activist investors can act alone or in groups, but their goal is to acquire enough shares of a company’s equity to influence the company’s decisions. Activist shareholders may need as little as 10% of shares to sway corporate governance. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What is the SEC?

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a governmental regulatory agency established by Congress which polices the practices of the securities industry. Since 1934, the SEC's mission has been to protect investors and the market from malfeasance. FINRA (the 2007 successor to the NASD which was formed in 1939) is a self-regulatory organization in the industry which seeks to keep member firms more than compliant with SEC regulations. Continue reading...

What can I do to make my portfolio grow faster?

If your portfolio isn’t growing enough for your liking, you might need to take on more risk or change your active management company. The answer is surprisingly simple: find good managers, fill your portfolio with more risky assets, and rebalance it regularly. The last point has more of a long-term focus, since harvesting and redistributing the gains of successful investments may stunt the growth, but it could also prevent you from losing as much when the winners experience a corrective downturn. 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 beta in investing?

Beta is a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole; when examining mutual funds, it indicates how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. It is often referenced with its counterpart, Alpha; a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Continue reading...

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are managed portfolios of stocks and bonds, where the portfolio manager uses pooled investor funds to manage the portfolio. In the U.S., the first mutual fund was created in 1924 when three investors in Boston pooled their money and formed the Massachusetts Investors’ Trust. The essence behind Mutual Funds today is the same – a pool of money is collected from a number of investors and then professionally managed. 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 are the Expenses Associated with Buying and Owning Mutual Funds?

Several forms of fees and expenses may be charged to those who own, buy, or even sell mutual funds. With mutual funds, there two types of charges that might be paid by the investor: expenses and fees. Different types of share classes may have different types structures to their fees and expenses. Expenses are the operating costs of the fund company, essentially, and these show up in all mutual funds, usually labeled as expense ratios. The returns reported by the fund will be after expenses. Continue reading...

What is alpha in investing?

Alpha is a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Alpha’s counterpart, the Beta figure, measures how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole or, when examining mutual funds, how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. Alpha is expressed as integers, which can be translated into percentage points above or below a benchmark for a time period. Investors are interested in higher Alpha figures: the larger the positive Alpha, the more the fund in question has outperformed its benchmark. An Alpha of 2 indicates a performance 2% greater than its benchmark; inversely, a -2 Alpha would denote 2% underperformance. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Subsidy Bond?

Mortgage subsidy bond is another word for a mortgage revenue bond, which are municipal bonds which are used to fund mortgage relief programs and refinancing arrangements through the state or municipal government. In 1980, the Mortgage Subsidy Bond Tax Act established some rules and definitions surrounding mortgage subsidies and their bonds, and, more specifically, removing their exemption from federal taxation. Continue reading...

What is the difference between active and passive money management?

The debate on whether active or passive management is better for investors has polarized many advisors and theorists for years. There are two schools of thought when it comes to long-term investing. One basically states that you should determine a proper allocation of asset classes for yourself, buy index funds to reflect each particular asset class, and possibly rebalance the portfolio periodically. This basically means “set it and forget it,” and the investor must be willing to ignore fluctuations in the markets and maintain a faith in an Efficient Market. Continue reading...

Who Manages ETFs?

Several large and well-known investment banks and companies are major players in the ETF industry. There are several large investment houses which specialize in managing ETFs such as Barclays, ProShares, Vanguard, and Guggenheim Partners, LLC. ETFs are also managed by investment firms such as Schwab, Credit Suisse, and Eaton Vance. Even New York Life’s Mainstay Investments recently acquired Index IQ. The ETF industry has been growing rapidly in the last 10 years, with more investors choosing to use them, more ETFs on the market, and more investment companies choosing to offer them. Continue reading...

What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...