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What are Asset-Backed Securities?

An Asset-Backed Security, or ABS, are bonds or notes backed by financial assets. It is an example of “securitization.” The assets within the ABS generally tend to consist of different kinds of debt receivables, such as credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans, and so forth. Banks build portfolios of receivables in making loans and issuing credit, and then in many cases package these loans together and sell them to investors (known as “securitization”). Continue reading...

What is an Asset-Backed Security?

Asset-backed securities are bonds or notes that come in several forms, but they typically use the cash flows from debt repayment as the asset that backs them. The assets that back the bonds called asset-backed securities (ABS) can be basically anything with a fairly predictable cash flow, but debt repayment cash flows tend to be used the most. These include credit card debt, home equity loans, auto loans, student loans, and so forth. Continue reading...

What are Mortgage-Backed Securities?

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are products that bundle mortgages together and are traded like securities for sale on the markets. Typically investment banks build these products by bundling mortgages with different interest rates and risk premiums, with the hope of the investor gaining a higher yield than can be found from traditional risk-free products, like U.S. Treasuries. Mortgage-backed securities got an infamous name during the 2008 financial crisis, as many of the packaged loans were subprime in nature. Many MBS products lost incredible value during the crisis, particularly following ruling FAS 157, which required banks to mark their value to market. 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...

A-/A3 — credit rating

A- — S&P / Fitch A3 — Moody’s Rating institutions assign various levels of credit ratings to signify the chance of default; the A-/A3 rating is considered Investment Grade, but it is getting closer to the Junk Bond range. If a company or debt issue has a rating of A-/A3, it means that S&P and Fitch have given it an A- and Moody’s has given it an A3 rating. They have their own symbology for their ratings system but these are at the same level on both scales: these ratings are at the 6th or 7th degree from the top possible ratings, which is AAA/Aaa. Continue reading...

What is Bond Insurance?

Bond insurance is a contract that protects the issuer and the holder of bonds from the risk that bond payments will not be made. Bond issues from the corporate or municipal world, or from derivative sources as with asset-backed securities and CDOs, come with the risk of default-- that is, that payments will not be made on time. The major credit ratings agencies (CRAs) assign a risk of default to each bond issue with proprietary analysis methods and ratings. Continue reading...

What is Cash-Flow Financing?

Cash flow financing is an alternative method of securing a loan, in which cash flows are the collateral, not assets. In cash flow financing, also known as cash flow loans, a lending institution will base their decisions regarding the size of the loan and the loan repayment schedule on future expected cash flows of the company. The cash flows serve as collateral instead of assets, as in an asset-backed loan. Continue reading...

What are Subprime Loans?

Subprime loans are loans made by institutions to individuals who do not meet the industry standards for a desirable loan client. Lenders such as banks and mortgage companies are able to shift much of the risk of loans they make by selling the debt off to investors and investment banks in the form of collateralized mortgage obligations and other forms of securitized debt. This paves the way for lenders to adopt more liberal guidelines around who can receive a loan for their home purchase and so forth. A thorough banker who is preserving the financial stability of his employing institution will perform due diligence to prove that a client can meet the repayment schedule for the loan by showing adequate cash flow and credit history. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage REIT?

Mortgage REITs are a type of Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which offers investors income distributions which result from the interest payment on mortgage loans. Investors enjoy REIT investments as a high-yield income investment which offers exposure to an asset class which is not necessarily correlated with other major asset classes. Mortgage REITs are a subset of this asset type which derives income from the interest due on mortgage loans, which are generally purchased in the form of mortgage-backed securities. Equity REITs are the other major type of REIT, and they invest directly in income-producing properties. Continue reading...

What is Asset Turnover?

Asset Turnover is a metric that investors and companies can use to determine how efficiently a business uses its assets to create revenue. Asset Turnover is a ratio of the value of a company’s sales or revenues relative to the value of its assets. It can be calculated simply by dividing sales or revenue by total assets. The higher an asset turnover ratio for a company, the better that company is performing - since it implies that the company is generating a high level of sales and revenue per unit of assets. Continue reading...

What is the Bond Market?

You might not know it, but the Bond Market is about twice the size of the Stock Market. It’s true; in the US and internationally, the bond market, which includes municipal bonds, corporate bonds, government bonds, v, etc, has almost twice the amount invested in it than the Stock Market. Within these categories, there are many subsets. Bonds are widely used by individual investors as well as corporations and governments. Continue reading...

What is a Hybrid REIT?

A Hybrid REIT blends the two major classes of REITs (Equity REITs and Mortgage REITs) to give the investor increased diversification with one investment. A Hybrid REIT is a marketable security much like a mutual fund, invested in both Equity and Mortgage real estate investments. The equity part includes income-producing properties, in which the REIT company owns equity in the property. The mortgage portion consists of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, in which the REIT earns revenue from debt interest payments. REITs must distribute 90% of their revenue each year to their shareholders (in the form of dividends), and this makes them a high-yield income investment. Continue reading...

What are Marketable Securities?

Marketable securities is a term referring to assets / securities that can be converted to cash easily, at least within a year. Examples of marketable securities are stocks, bonds, or CDs you might buy at the bank. What makes an asset a marketable security is its ability to be redeemed for cash quickly at a known market price. What is a Broker-Dealer? What is an Illiquid Security? Continue reading...

What is an Illiquid Security?

An illiquid security is one that cannot easily be sold or exchanged for cash on a timely basis. The lack of ready buyers tends to create a fairly sizable discrepancy between what a seller wants and what a buyer is offering, versus an orderly market where assets change hands at high volumes and therefore have high liquidity. An illiquid security should generally be held only if the investor/owner has a long-time horizon, and therefore can handle the risk of not being able to offload the asset easily. Continue reading...

What Does Asset Mean?

Any item of economic value that a person or entity owns, benefits from, or has use of in generating income. Assets can generally be converted to cash, but economic circumstances often determine whether the asset can be sold at fair value. Some common examples of assets are cash, stocks, paid-for real estate, inventory, office equipment, jewelry, artwork, or other property of value that can be counted towards a person’s estate or a corporation’s balance sheet. Continue reading...

What is a Security?

A security is a marketable ownership contract which entitles the owner to the right to use the contract as a type of currency backed by a specific asset, which could be partial ownership in a company, a debt (bond), or a derivative interest. Securities are broadly categorized into debt securities (e.g., bonds), equity securities (e.g., stock), and derivatives (e.g., futures, options, etc.). They will generally be issued by a company or government entity and will entitle the owner of the contract the right to trade the ownership interest for value in the open market. Continue reading...

What is asset allocation?

Asset allocation is theoretically the best way to control the return you experience, through diversification and rebalancing. Asset allocation theories provide you with mechanisms to diversify your money among various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, precious metals, etc. The benefit of asset allocation is twofold: first, nobody knows which asset class will perform better at any given time, and second, various asset classes are not entirely correlated or have a negative correlation, which provides a hedge. If one asset class appreciates significantly, the other might not, but, if the allocation is done correctly, this may be exactly what the investor was looking for. Continue reading...

What are Tangible Assets?

Tangible assets are the property of a company that are tangible and can be quickly liquidated. This includes current-period accounts receivable and money in checking, savings, and money-market accounts. Buildings, land, equipment and inventory are all tangible assets as well. Tangible assets are an important part of a company’s book value. For most valuations, intangible assets such as patents, other intellectual property, and goodwill are not included. Continue reading...

What are Current Assets?

Current Assets are items on a balance sheet that are either cash or are going to be cash in the near future. The current assets section of a balance sheet is an indication of cash flows and liquidity. The assets are usually listed in order of liquidity, or the amount of time that it will take for them to become cash. This section includes cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, inventory, supplies, and temporary investments. (The order given here is not necessarily the order of liquidity found on a balance sheet.) Continue reading...

What is an asset mix?

An asset mix is the blend of major asset classes in a portfolio, which should be constructed based on the risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals of the investor. A common example of an asset mix is the 70/30 stock-bond mix, where 70% of the assets are invested in stocks and 30% in bonds. “Mix” is one way of describing the asset allocation of a portfolio, but it also describes the practice of diversifying among asset classes. The core asset classes that most people consider are stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, real estate, and commodities. Continue reading...