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Are the markets efficient?

The concept of an efficient market is more applicable today than it was when it was conceived, a truly efficient market is nearly impossible. The Efficient Market Hypothesis states that random new information will affect the value of securities, and that new information disseminates so quickly among rational investors that it is futile to try to beat the “market portfolio.” Thirty years ago, this was more of a theory than an observable phenomenon, and plenty of inefficiencies in the dissemination of information and the pricing of securities could be pointed out. Continue reading...

What is the October Effect?

The October Effect, also known as the Mark Twain Effect, is an anecdotally-founded fear that markets are vulnerable to catastrophe in the month of October. Several Octobers have appeared to be the origin of problems in the market: in 1929 at the onset of the Great Depression, the 1987 crash, and in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession. Perhaps superstitiously, many people expect October to be the worse month of the year for the market, supposing that if something bad were going to happen, it would happen in October. Statistically, there isn't much support for this idea. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to the “Elliot market waves theory?”

The Elliot Wave theory essentially uncovers larger trends and investor sentiment by smoothing and “zooming out” from market price action. Elliot Waves zoom out on market price action by using larger-interval moving average and smoothing out price information to reveal larger trends. He was one of the first to attempt such a theory, and his foundations may have contributed to the use of Fourier Analysis and Fibonacci Sequences in market analysis. Continue reading...

Which is Better for Me – a Roth or Regular 401(k)?

Some 401(k)s give participants the ability to make after-tax contributions, which raises the question of which fits better into a person’s retirement plan. One advantage to Roth 401(k)s is that they do not have income limits which may have barred certain high earners from contributing to a Roth IRA in the past. Down the road in retirement, it may be advantageous for someone with significant savings to be able to take some withdrawals that do not increase his or her income tax bracket. Continue reading...

What is the adaptive market hypothesis?

The Adaptive Market Hypothesis uses theories of behavioral economics to update the aging Efficient Market Hypothesis. There have been many debates surrounding the Efficient Market Hypothesis and its validity, and a lot of research over the last 15 years or so has been done which suggests that behavioral finance holds many of the keys to an accurate “universal theory” of the markets. A marriage between the two schools of thought has given birth to the Adaptive Market Hypothesis, coined in 2004 by Andrew Lo of MIT. Behavioral and evolutionary principals come into play when theorizing about the large-scale behavior and adaptation of humans in a system. Continue reading...

What does Oversold mean?

Oversold describes a situation in which a security has an inherent value greater than its price, which has decreased due to low demand. It is hard to determine when a security is oversold, but the Relative Strength Index (RSI), an momentum oscillator developed by Welles Wilder, is one tool that can help make a determination. In the RSI, the average gains and average losses over a specific time period (such as 14 days) are divided to calculate the Relative Strength, then normalized into the Relative Strength Index (RSI), which is range bound between 0 and 100. The RSI typically fluctuates between values of 70 and 30, with higher numbers indicating more momentum. According to this indicator, a security with an RSI under 30 (out of 100) can be considered oversold Continue reading...

What is market psychology?

Market psychology is the overarching sentiment of investors toward the stock market, and also their tendency as a group to pile-on in certain situations whether or not it is rational behavior and to exhibit other idiosyncrasies. Market psychology usually comes into conflict with the efficient market hypothesis tenet that investors are rational. Behavioral finance and the study of market psychology has become a more relevant topic in the last 30 years or so since more main street investors are influencing prices in the market. If you have taken a psychology course, you will know that sometimes people behave in ways that are incongruent with what they believe or what is rational. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage Fallout?

Mortgage fallout refers to the instance of proposed loans falling through before closing. This is something tracked by not only mortgage producers and their mortgage companies, but also economists who keep up with mortgages and the secondary market for mortgage derivatives. Since mortgages take two months or more to close, the fallout rate can indicate a stagnancy in the economy and trouble for the secondary mortgage market. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Open Market Committee?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the monetary policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System. The FOMC makes the decision on “raising” or “lowering” interest rates, which refers to moves in the federal funds rate. The FOMC consists of 12 members, which is comprised of the seven members of the Board of Governors and 5 of the 12 Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York always has a seat on the FOMC, while the other presidents rotate for one year terms. This policy-making body meets eight times a year to decide monetary policy, which consists of setting the benchmark interest rate and make decisions regarding the supply of money. All dependent on economic conditions. Continue reading...

What is Income Inequality?

Income inequality is the difference in the average income of the lower/middle class and the upper class. Naturally the high income of very rich people in the country, which constitute a very small percentage of the population, will dwarf the average income of those who are not very rich. The worrisome thing is when the gap between them widens at an accelerating rate and the lower classes are not able to break through to the upper classes. Continue reading...

What is the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA)?

HERA was passed in 2008 in response to the subprime mortgage crisis that rocked the entire economy and left many Americans underwater on their mortgages. People would need to refinance their mortgages and this bill approved the funding to help that happen. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act did several things, all aiming to help American consumers and lending institutions get out of the recession left by the subprime mortgage bubble in 2008. Continue reading...

What is Consensus?

Consensus in investing is a measure of how in line investor beliefs are with one another. It describes strong trends in both trading and investor sentiment, often manifesting as bullish or bearish outlooks on a security or market. Bullish or bearish outlooks can be misleading, however. Opinions are not facts, and the noise of opinions from news sources and pundits can make opinions seem more factual than they are. Many investors require time to develop and form opinions, or form opinions for the wrong reasons, and can succumb to a herd mentality Continue reading...

What is a leading indicator?

Leading indicators are economic or price data which have some degree of correlation with a movement in the market or a stock price. Leading indicators tend to happen before the market or price movement occurs. Traders and economists use leading indicators frequently to prepare for what’s next; they are based on theory as well as empirical historical evidence but like all indicators, they do not have a 100% accuracy rate – past performance does not guarantee future results. Continue reading...

What is the Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016. Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically. As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: 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 the Law of Demand?

The Law of Demand states that as prices increase, demand will decrease, and vice versa. That is to say, price and quantity are inversely related. There are some things which have an inelastic demand, meaning the quantity demanded will remain constant no matter the price. Medicine is a good example. Vices to which people are addicted are as well, so some degree, and tobacco stocks are considered fairly safe and defensive in bad economic times. 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 are some Key Numbers Related to the World Capital Markets?

As of 2014, global GDP was $77 trillion. The total market capitalization of all world stock markets is approximately $70 trillion, and about a fourth of that amount is the U.S. market. The U.S. economy is the largest by GDP, which for 'fiscal year' (FY) 2016 was approximately $19 trillion. The total value of notional derivatives fell to $18.1 trillion. How Many Dollars do We Have in Circulation? What is Currency in Circulation? Continue reading...

What is the Income of the Average American?

This is a simple question, but one that varies almost exclusively based on geographical location (cost of living). According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008, the Median Household Income for the state of Mississippi was $37,818, while the figure for Maryland was $70,482. In California, the average was at $61,017, and in Arkansas it was $38,820. Since the cost of living is drastically different in various states, counties, and even cities, the figure changes drastically. In San Francisco, California, for example, the median income for 2008 was $71,957, while in Billings, Montana, the figure was $35,147 (less than half as much). Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance for My Spouse?

The spousal relationship is usually intended to be a permanent one, and with it comes a high degree of financial co-dependence. Today, many working couples will mutually own life insurance for the sake of the other, so that long term financial plans do not have to change drastically if one of them dies. Even in the case of a non-working spouse, they are probably doing something that brings economic value to the household, a contribution which can be insured with life insurance. Life insurance on your spouse may protect you the same way that life insurance on your life can protect your spouse. Continue reading...