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What are Accounting Controls?

Internal control systems and procedures can ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial accounts at a business. Accounting controls are meant to ensure that the numbers being put onto the books are accurate. Internal controls are the practices that employees are trained to do, and may be audited on, which general involve some oversight or double-checking to filter out mistakes. This not only prevents mistakes, but also malfeasance, embezzlement and fraud. Accounting done wrong can result in criminal penalties, bankruptcy, and tax problems. Continue reading...

What is an Accounts Payable Subsidiary Ledger?

Accounts payable may have enough items within it to require its own department in the company, or just a subsidiary ledger to supplement the General Ledger of the company. A subsidiary ledger gives full details of a line-item in the general ledger, especially when it is too detailed to include in the general ledger. The Accounts Payable Subsidiary Ledger will contain all of the transaction details for each credit and debit in the Payables history from a specific period. Continue reading...

What is Minority Interest?

Minority interest is a portion of a company’s stock that is not owned by the parent company, and refers to a type of ownership that generally cannot exert influence over a company’s business decisions. If an outside investor or another company has a less than 50% stake in a company via shares, then they are said to have a minority interest. From an accounting standpoint, only the dividends of a minority interest are counted on a company’s books. If they exert influence over the decision-making, then a percentage of the income may also need to be included. Continue reading...

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

A leveraged buyout occurs when members of management use outside borrowed capital to buy a controlling share in the company. Often times, the assets of the company being acquired are used as collateral for the borrowed capital. The purpose of leveraged buyouts is to acquire another company without having to commit a lot of working capital up front. In a typical leveraged buyout, you may see a ratio of 90% debt financing to 10% equity used to acquire the company. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable Subsidiary Ledger?

The Accounts Receivable Subsidiary Ledger will be a separate ledger from a company’s General Ledger, where all of the information pertaining to all Accounts Receivable will be reported. Receivables may have only a line-item on the General Ledger of a company, but may have an entire department dedicated to servicing the receivable accounts. Because there may be a large amount of information in just the Receivables sub-account, there is often a Subsidiary Ledger dedicated to the minutia of all the Accounts Receivable business. Continue reading...

What is the Accounting Cycle?

The Accounting Cycle includes all of the documentation that is collected and all of the controls and systems in place to ensure accurate accounting. The Accounting Cycle begins with the point of sale, with documentation for the transaction (invoice or receipt) and the internal expenses and inventory. There are conventions, controls and systems in place to account for and control the flow of information in a company at each stage of the process to ensure that accounts are as accurate as possible. The Accounting Cycle may refer to the length of time between trial balances, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Continue reading...

What is Monetary Policy?

Monetary policy is the stance of the central bank at any given time regarding the tightening or loosening of rates, or the issuance of new currency denominations, that will affect the money supply in the country. Monetary policy is the prerogative of the central bank but may be influenced by congress as well as private banking institutions and the central banks of other countries. The goal of monetary policy is to keep the Federal Funds Rate or the LIBOR, or whatever it might be depending on the country, at just the right level to keep the economy going in the direction that will be most helpful. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Payable for Accounting?

Accounts Payable is part of the Current Liabilities section of a company’s books. Accounts Payable are the short-term expenses and debts that a company must pay out in the near future. These might include utility bills and regular expenses, debt service, and bills to regular suppliers and vendors. The amounts that appear in the Payables, as they are also called, have not been paid out yet, but are scheduled to be paid within the current quarter, generally. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable for Accounting?

Also simply called Receivables, the Accounts Receivable line on a General Ledger will contain the amounts owed to the company which are due to be received in the near future. If a company offers financing for the items it sells, or it has regular payments coming in for things such as rent, leases, monthly subscription or membership fees, and so on, they will have substantial numbers in their accounts receivable. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Reserve Bank?

The Federal Reserve banking system was created in 1913, the same year that income taxes were added to the US Constitution. 12 regional Fed banks were established, each of which plays a role in monitoring and implementing interventions to the flow of money in the economy. The Federal Reserve Bank is a 12-bank system in the United States that plays the role of the country’s central bank. Central banks in other countries are typically part of the government and print the actual currency, but in this case the Fed is independent of the actual US government, and the Treasury Department technically prints the money. 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 an Adjunct Account?

An adjunct account increases the valuation of a liability account. An adjunct account is commonly used when accounting for a bond issue sold at a premium. The par value of the bonds sold is included in one line as a credit to Bonds Payable, and the increased premium in placed in another line as a credit to Premium on Bonds payable. The technical term for the account into which a discounted bond’s discount is placed is a Contra Account. Continue reading...

What is Account Reconcilement?

Account reconcilement is the act of comparing and affirming multiple records of the same financial information. To “reconcile the books” is to compare different records of the same accounts to ensure that they match up. One might reconcile all the different record-keeping for the same account, such as copies of checks and receipts, to be sure that they add up to the balance and ledger shown on a bank account statement. It could be that the recipient of a check has not yet cashed it, and it is important to keep all records “synced” with one another. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Policies?

Accounting policies are the internal controls of a company which stipulate the methods by which the books will be kept. Accounting policies are the agreed-upon accounting methods, conventions, and practices of an accounting cycle. A business must establish guidelines and training to ensure that accounts are kept in ways that satisfy their needs for documentation, security, liquidity, management, and the observation of applicable laws. Continue reading...

What is a Dividends Received Deduction?

A Dividends Received Deduction (DRD) is a tax deduction available to corporations when they are paid dividends from another corporation. This is a provision to reduce the number of times an amount of earnings can be taxed: company A, which is paying the dividend, will have already been taxed on it, and the shareholders of company B will be taxed as well, so the Dividends Received Deduction alleviates taxes at the intermediary stage when Company B receives it. Continue reading...

What is currency substitution?

Currency Substitution can be an official or ad hoc occurrence in a country whose commerce is partially, or fully, conducted using the currency of another country. Some currencies which are pegged to another currency at a fixed rate (especially at whole integers) are domestically exchanged in the same manner that the local currency is. Many countries have completely adopted the currency of another country, and do not have a central bank of their own. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. Continue reading...

What is Stagflation?

Stagflation is the occurrence of both stagnation, which is slowing growth and production levels, and inflation, which is the increase of the average cost of goods. If production costs rise for some reason, such as higher oil prices, it can cause economic growth to slow down and the supply of goods in the market to drop. This is known as stagnation. The weakened supply of goods in the market and the higher production costs of the goods will cause the retail prices of the good in the market to go up. 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 foreign exchange intervention?

If a central bank takes actions that intentionally and artificially affect the value of a currency, particularly its own, it is engaging in what is known as a Foreign Exchange Intervention, or an interventionist policy. Central banks occasionally use interventions in foreign exchange markets to achieve a desirable end. The banks will intentionally make trades and hold certain amounts of currencies or derivatives with the sole purpose of manipulating the value of their domestic currency. The reasons for that manipulation might be to slow down inflation or to make their county’s exports look more attractive by pushing the value of their currency lower. Continue reading...