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Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is Counter-Party Risk?

Counter-party risk is the risk that the person on the other side of the trade will not meet his or her contractual obligations. In other words, it’s essentially the risk of doing business with someone. In financial contracts, counter-party risk is also known as “default risk.” Continue reading...

What is an Abandonment Clause?

An Abandonment Clause primarily refers to maritime insurance contracts in which a lost vessel can be replaced without the expectation of recovery or salvage, or the terms by which a construction contract or lease agreement can be dissolved. This is not to be confused with an Abandonment Option contract between a financial advisor and his or her client. It can also refer to a frequently used clause in construction law, in which the contractors define an abandoned project and give their counter-parties the right to move on and find another contractor to finish the job. Continue reading...

How Do Ethereum Smart Contracts Work?

Ethereum smart contracts are an essential part of the Ethereum blockchain that can be coded into financial transactions or decentralized applications. Smart contracts were first described in 1998 by Nick Szabo, but they did not really make their debut until being popularized by the Ethereum platform in 2015. Bitcoin even has protocols in its code to facilitate smart contracts, but Ethereum, because it is a platform for the development of decentralized applications, instead of just a medium for currency like Bitcoin, has gotten all the glory. Continue reading...

What are forward contracts?

Forward contracts are agreements to exchange specific assets on a specific date, at a price determined at the outset. Forward contracts are similar to futures contracts, but they are over-the-counter private contracts drafted for specific purposes, quantities, and dates that satisfy the specific needs of the counter-parties. These contracts are mostly entered into by institutional investors seeking a hedge against risks such as interest rates and exchange rates. Continue reading...

What is a foreign currency swap?

These are generally referred to as currency swaps or cross-currency swaps , since “foreign” is a little redundant (currencies are from different countries anyway). Central banks and large institutions sometimes swap principal amounts and loan interest in their domestic currency in exchange for a foreign currency, to provide liquidity and a hedge. Currency swaps are where banking institutions, particularly central banks, exchange a loan in one currency for a loan in another currency. Continue reading...

What is Pari-Passu?

“Pari-passu” is a Latin phrase meaning “equal footing,” typically in reference to treatment of creditors or beneficiaries when assets are distributed. Some examples of pari-passu in practice would be bankruptcy proceedings when credits are given ‘equal access’ to assets of the company, or in a probate hearing when assets are divided equally amongst beneficiaries. Continue reading...

What is a derivative?

A derivative is a security which monetizes the risk or volatility associated with a reference asset. Derivatives derive their value from speculation surrounding an underlying or reference asset. The reference asset could be another security, an interest rate, or an index, for example, but there are also derivatives based on future weather patterns. Derivatives come in many forms; examples include options, swaps, and futures. Some derivatives trade on exchanges and some are Over-the-Counter (OTC). Derivatives might be used for speculation or hedging. Continue reading...

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is the standard, baseline hospital coverage that comes at no cost as part of everyone’s Medicare benefits. It will pay for inpatient stays at hospital and skilled care facilities, but only for a certain number of days. Medicare Part A is hospitalization and inpatient care insurance. It will pay fully for about 20 days of care, but only if there is an inpatient procedure first and the patient appears to be convalescing. If the patient is not gradually recovering, their Medicare benefits will be suspended. Continue reading...

What is FOREX?

Forex is the common name for the Foreign Exchange market, an international network of currency trading that is active 24/7. Forex is by far the most active and highest-volume market in the world, because it involves large trades between international institutions in an effort to diversify or consolidate their exposure to various currencies. Individual traders can also participate, usually by trading nano-lots, which are 100-unit increments of currency. Continue reading...

What is a Swap?

A swap is an over-the-counter agreement between institutions to "swap" one thing for another, usually the cash flow related to interest-bearing instruments. Given the negotiable and over-the-counter nature of swaps, there are many permutations and manifestations of this concept. The most common is the interest rate swap, in which the counter-parties agree to pay the interest due on principal amounts which are not exchanged. Continue reading...

What is an OTC Stock?

Over-the-Counter securities transactions are done outside of formal exchanges, and the term could refer to private investments and contracts or transactions in unlisted securities, such as penny stocks. The major exchanges have requirements for being listed, pertaining mainly to the size of the company offering equity shares and the nature of the securities. Resources such as the Over the Counter Bulletin Board and "pink sheets" help to facilitate trades that cannot be performed on the largest exchanges, but there are several caveats to bear in mind. Continue reading...

What is Corporate Equity?

Corporate equity is retained earnings plus common shares outstanding. On a corporate balance sheet, the retained earnings and the outstanding common stock capitalization combined would be considered the corporate equity, also called shareholder’s equity / owner’s equity. Of the total corporate equity, the portion representing common stock equity is only the capital raised through the issuance of shares in an IPO (initial public offering), where payment for those shares was paid to the company. Subsequent trading in those shares does not affect the common stock equity on the company books. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What is a Buying Hedge?

Hedging against future price risk was the main reason Futures contracts came into being. If an investor or a business knows that they need to acquire an asset or security at a future date, they might go ahead and agree to a price and have it in writing on a Futures contract. A futures contract means that an item has been sold at a stated price, and only awaits settlement at a future date. This will protect them from the risk that the price will move unfavorably in the future, and it will allow them to balance books and plan a budget with more certainty. Futures contracts are standardized and traded on exchanges. Continue reading...

What are My 401(k) Investment Options?

401(k)s can offer many options for investment, but they generally only offer 15 or fewer in each plan. Investment options in your 401(k) are completely determined by the agreement between your employer and the custodian. Therefore, you’re limited to the investment instruments selected for you. The majority of 401(k) plans will offer fewer than 15 investment options, which are generally part of prepackaged 401(k) products from major broker-dealers or mutual fund companies. Large companies will frequently also offer stock of their company within the 401(k) plan architecture. Continue reading...

Who Administers a 401(k)?

A 401(k) plan Administrator will usually be an officer of the Employer sponsoring the plan. A 401(k) plan document will specify who is the Administrator of the plan, but it is generally an executive or officer of the company sponsoring the plan. 401(k)s can be sold in packages that are essentially the same from employer to employer. When the design is well-established, and there are systems in place to enroll employees and maintain the plan, such as an employee website, a company’s CFO or human resources department chair may wear the Administrator hat. Some plans require a special administrator, and this may be a requirement of the broker-dealer acting as Custodian, especially if the plan has been designed from an open architecture, and there are many moving parts. 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 a Rate Swap?

A rate swap is the exchange of cash flows on underlying principals which are not exchanged. It is an over-the-counter contract between two institutions to trade the cash flows on two comparable principal amounts, but not to exchange the actual principal amounts. Institutions might prefer this arrangement because they only have access to floating interest rates or are overweight in them and would prefer to have some fixed rate interest cash flow, or vice versa. These swaps might occur between banks on opposite sides of the world to take advantage of rates elsewhere or to simply diversify their risks. Continue reading...

What is foreign aid?

Wealthy countries and non-government organizations frequently donate or lend resources to help the population of a country in dire economic need. This can come in the form of educational assistance, funds, materials, construction, food, medicine, and so on. On a macroeconomic scale, foreign aid constitutes one of the major forms of asset transfer between different parts of the world. Governments, charitable organizations, and NGOs donate or lend resources to countries that cannot supply their own needs effectively. Aid can be given altruistically, that is, just for the sake of doing good deeds, or it can be used as a tool for influence or personal gain, which is common. Continue reading...

Should I Buy a Medigap Policy?

There are pros and cons to buying so-called Medigap coverage, and it can depend on how much medical care and services you anticipate needing. They cover all or nearly all of the out-of-pocket costs left over by Part A and Part B, but they don’t offer Part D coverage. Obviously, buying a Medigap policy will mean additional costs. If you have the means and you’re looking to extend your medical insurance to areas not covered by Medicare Part A and B (original Medicare), it might be a good option. Continue reading...