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What is a Housing Bubble?

Bubbles form in markets when there is such a large amount of demand that it drives prices up to levels where it is no longer supported by inherent value. Bubbles have effects on an interconnected web of economic forces and institutions. It was postulated before 2008 that the housing market could not form a bubble in the same way the stock market could, but the subprime meltdown proved those theorists wrong. Bubbles are when a market suffers from unnatural price inflation due to speculation, bandwagon investing, and, to some extent, misinformation. Continue reading...

What is the FHFA?

The Federal Housing Finance Association is the Conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since the 2008 meltdown. The FHFA was established as an independent government entity to oversee the secondary mortgage market. The FHFA is a regulatory agency which took over for the Federal Housing Finance Board and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). It was created in 2008 by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA), and it oversees the operations of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the 11 federal home loan (FHL) banks. If you’ll recall, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide liquidity to banks and transfer risk from them by buying their mortgage cash flows from them. Continue reading...

What is Housing Expense Ratio?

When deciding whether to issue a mortgage loan to a customer, a bank or lender will look at the housing expense ratio, which is the annual cost of the mortgage payments, including all insurance and expenses related to owning the property, divided by the gross income of the individual. Gross income is used because tax deductions can be taken for mortgage payments. If a proposed mortgage leaves the borrower with a housing expense ratio (HER) over 28%, they will usually not be approved for this mortgage loan. The HER is found by dividing all annual costs associated with the new home with the gross annual income of the (proposed) borrower. 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 Bad Debt?

Lending companies or other companies with Receivables may characterize certain unpaid accounts as Bad Debt and write off the losses. Bad debt is debt that is on the books and is in default, meaning payment has not been made on it in a long while. Creditors, banks, and companies may periodically get bad debt off of their accounting books by moving it out of Receivables. Most companies have attempted to calculate their exposure to default risk and bad debt, and have allocated amounts into accounts such as Allowance for Doubtful Accounts (ADA). It can be passed off to debt collection agencies, but most of the debt will never be recouped. Continue reading...

What Does Debt Mean?

Debt is money owed from one party or parties to another, plain and simple. Whether it’s money borrowed, loaned, credit, or a good sold for which payment has yet to be received, debt lives on just about every company and government’s balance sheet. Debt has a negative connotation generally, but it is not always a bad thing - in fact, having certain type of debt is good! Especially if the corporation or person borrows money at an attractive interest rate in order to invest in an asset that they expect to generate a higher return. In order to maintain a good credit standing, it is imperative that a borrower make interest payments on time and never default on debt. Continue reading...

What are Debt Ratios?

Debt ratios give a relative picture of a company’s ability to repay debts, make interest payments, and meet other financial obligations. They generally compare the level of debt in a company to the level of assets. Debt ratios are key for investors and particularly creditors, to determine the overall level of financial risk faced by a company. Debt ratios that increasingly turn unattractive can serve as “canaries in a coal mine” that a company is in danger of bankruptcy or default. There are several types of debt ratios, such as debt-to-equity, debt-to-capital, cash flow to debt, and so on. Continue reading...

What is Cost of Debt?

The cost of debt is a calculation that determines the actual cost of a company’s debt financing. Since interest payments are generally tax deductible, the cost of debt may not be as simple as just adding up all of the interest paid on a loan. It would have to be adjusted for the tax savings, such that it is total interest paid less the tax savings. 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 is the Debt Ratio?

The debt ratio measures a company’s total debt to total assets. It is the simplest calculation available for determining how indebted a company is on a relative basis. The debt ratio is crucial for determining a company’s financial standing, and should be considered by potential investors. To calculate the debt ratio, one only needs to divide total liabilities (i.e. long-term and short-term liabilities) by total assets. Continue reading...

What is Federal Debt?

Federal debt is the money owed by the government. The primary source of this debt is Treasury Bonds (Notes), which constitute debt obligations. About 25% of the current national debt is owed internally between different government agencies, mostly to the Social Security Trust Funds. The Federal Debt is also, and perhaps more commonly, referred to as the National Debt. Currently the debt is approximately $19 Trillion. 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 are Envelopes and Trading Bands?

Moving average envelopes and trading bands help traders filter their decisions to trade. These tools set thresholds on the amount of movement above and below a moving average to trigger a decision to trade (or at least prompt further consideration by the trader). A moving average envelope often takes a moving average line for a security or index and duplicates it, moving one line a certain percentage above and one a certain percentage below (the distance may depend on volatility levels). Price fluctuations in a security then might trigger a decision to sell when the price hits the upper band, or a decision buy when the price hits the lower band. If it crosses the bands it might be seen as a new trend. Continue reading...

What is a Debt Settlement Company?

A debt settlement company is a company who specializes in helping people with overwhelming debt settle with their creditors. Debt settlement companies can help individuals with debt issues settle with their creditors for less than they owe. Of course, this will give the individual’s credit score a significant dent that stays on public record for seven years, but at least it gets people out from under their crushing debt. A settlement company will attempt to negotiate a settlement deal on your behalf with one or all of your creditors. Continue reading...

What is Long-Term Debt?

Long-term debt refers to the duration of a liability/amount owed, and to qualify it must be due at least 12 months out. The period is in reference to 12+ months from the date of the balance sheet. A company will typically take on long-term debt in the form of a mortgage for property owned, or as capital for growth raised through bond sales or other debentures. Continue reading...

What Does Debt Financing Mean?

Debt financing occurs when a company borrows money or secures financing through loans, with the obligation to repay the money (typically with interest). Generally, a corporation will engage in debt financing by selling bonds in the marketplace or to private investors, or with promissory notes or commercial paper. Generally the terms of the bond or the loan will have the company commit as collateral assets of the business, such as real estate, cash on hand, or fixed assets. Continue reading...

What is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

Also known as ‘leverage,’ the debt-to-equity ratio indicates the relative proportion of a company’s debt to total shareholder equity. Given that debt is looked at relative to shareholder equity, the debt-to-equity ratio is often given greater consideration than the debt ratio for determining leverage and risk. Similar to debt ratio, a lower debt-to-equity means that a company has less leverage and a stronger equity position. Continue reading...

What is the Debt to Capital Ratio?

The debt-to-capital ratio is a measure of a company’s leverage that looks at total debt compared to total capital (shareholder equity + debt). This measure of leverage is not a globally accepted accounting practice, therefore it is important for analysts to learn exactly what is being included by the company as their debt and equity in calculating the ratio. Generally speaking, a higher debt to capital ratio indicates that the company is financing more of its operations and needs through the debt markets versus with equity. Comparing debt-to-capital ratios amongst companies within the same sector or industry can be a useful exercise. Continue reading...

What is Subordinated Debt?

Subordinated Debt is a junior security which will be serviced after the Unsubordinated Debt in the event of a company bankruptcy. Subordinated Debt has been deemed less important than the Unsubordinated Debt that a company has taken on, in terms of what priority it will have for payment in the event of company default. The amount of money and length of term on the loan are considerations when making this distinction. Continue reading...

What is a "spread"?

Spread has several meanings in finance, but the most general usage is to describe the difference between the bid and the ask prices for a security, where a narrower spread would indicate high trading volume and liquidity. It also might refer to a type of options strategy in which an investor purchases two calls or two puts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates or strike prices. Continue reading...