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What is a bear put spread?

A bear put spread involves the use of two puts, one sold and one bought, at different strike prices, with the intention of profiting from declines in the underlying stock. A Bear Put Spread uses two put contracts, one long and one short, in such a way to achieve a maximum profit from modest downward movements in the underlying stock. A long put is purchased a strike price nearer the money that the short put contract. Continue reading...

What is a Calendar Spread?

A calendar spread is a strategy also known as a horizontal spread or time spread, in which the investor uses two options contracts, with the same strike price, on the same underlying security, but with different expiration dates. The trader will “write” (sell) the near-term one (front month) and hold the one with the more distant expiration date (back month) long. This is a debit spread, since the investor will pay more to establish this position than is received from the short sale of the near-term option: longer-term options have a greater time value than short-term options. Continue reading...

What is a ratio call spread?

Ratio call spreads are options strategies where the investor combines purchased calls and short calls at the same expiration but with different strike prices. A Ratio Call Spread starts off as a delta-neutral strategy, which means that even if you have two long calls and one short call, the sensitivity of your overall position to move in the underlying is equal whether it moves up or down by small amounts. Continue reading...

What is a Credit Spread?

Credit Spread is an indication of the default risk perceived in corporate bonds at the current time. The credit spread is the difference between the yield on the safest bonds and the riskiest bonds. How much does it cost corporations to issue bonds, in terms of the yield expected by investors in the current market? Typically, a higher spread indicates a more unstable economy. Buyers of large quantities of bonds tend to insure their purchases, and the cost of the insurance is usually reflected in so-called CDS's (Credit Default Swaps). The more expensive the CDS's are, the more risky it is to purchase the bond. 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...

What is a time spread?

A ‘Time Spread,’ also called a Calendar Spread or a Horizontal Spread, involves the use of multiple options of the same type (either all calls or all puts), with the same strike price but different expiration dates. Generally traders will sell a near-term option (take a short position) and buy a far-term option (take a long position). The strategy is virtually identical whether calls or puts are used. Continue reading...

What is a bull call spread?

A bull call spread is a vertical spread that buys and sells calls in a way that benefits from upward price movement but limits the risk of the short position. Using calls options of the same expiration date but different prices, a bull call spread seeks to maximize profits for moderate price movements upward. A long position is taken in a call contract (meaning it is bought and held) that has a strike price near the current market price of the security or is at least lower than the other call contract used in this strategy. Continue reading...

What is a bull put spread?

A bull put spread is used when an investor thinks the price of a security is set to rise modestly. The strategy involves buying one put option on the security while simultaneously selling another put option at a higher strike price. A Bull Put Spread is usually a vertical spread, meaning the two options used have the same expiration date (and different prices). The lower-strike put option is bought and held long, while the higher-strike option is sold short. The short position sold will be at or just below the current market price for the security, and the long position will be at a lower strike price than the short position. Continue reading...

What is a call time spread?

A time spread using call options is a strategy that buys and sells the same number of options with the same strike prices, but different expirations. Time spreads are sometimes called calendar spreads or horizontal spreads. They make money based on the time decay of the options being shorted. Two calls are used: one is shorted and one is purchased, and both have the same strike price and same underlying security. Continue reading...

What is a put time spread?

A put time spread is an options strategy that has the investor implementing a short put and a long put at the same strike price, but with different expirations. Time spreads can also be called calendar spreads or horizontal spreads. A put time spread will use two put contracts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates. One of the puts will be sold short, and one will be held long (this is the nature of spreads). Continue reading...

What is a vertical spread?

A Vertical Spread involves the strategy of buying and selling an equal number of options on the same underlying security with the same expiration date, but different strike prices. Vertical Spreads can be both bullish and bearish, depending on your view of the underlying security. If you use calls, you are constructing a Vertical Bull Spread, and if you’re using puts, you’re constructing a Vertical Bear Spread. Continue reading...

What are option strategies?

Option strategies are implemented by investment professionals to profit from the price movement of an underlying strategy, and can also be used as a hedge against losses or to preserve profits. Various option strategies have been developed over the years to take advantage of the behavior of the underlying assets. Some of these are designed to be conservative, and others are intended to be aggressive. Sometimes these strategies are known by epic-sounding names such as Iron Butterfly and Iron Condor. Continue reading...

What is a Breakeven Price?

There will be a premium paid by investors for the right to establish positions using options. The price of the underlying security must move to a certain point for the options position to become profitable. The strike price of an options contract names the price that an investor can use to buy or sell the underlying security, but the breakeven price will be the strike price plus the amount of the investor’s premium or net debit. Breakeven price can apply to a multi-option strategy such as a spread, or to a single option position. Continue reading...

What is an Account Balance?

An account balance is the amount either credited to or owed on a ledger assigned to a particular entity or line-item. The balance of an account is the net debit or credit assigned to it after all transactions have been documented for a current period. Transactions might be deposits, withdrawals, interest credited, fees, or other activity. The account in question could be a personal savings or checking account, or a ledger account at a business or institution, or another form of account, such as the macroeconomic concept of current national account. Accounts are said to be “in the red” when there is a net debit (negative) amount, and “in the black” when there is a net positive balance (net credit). Continue reading...

What is Amortization?

Amortization is like giving a life span to a financial obligation, over a set number of years, and gradually killing-off the obligation with set payments. Amortization is the calculation of a fixed payment schedule over a set number of years to allow the repayment of a loan, such as a home mortgage. From an accounting standpoint, it can refer to the practice of spreading-out the cost of any intangible asset over time. For example, the IRS will allow a taxpayer to amortize the premium of a bond for deductions. 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 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 Mortgage Par Rate?

Lenders have a different par rate for different types of borrowers, which is the base around which they have the ability to negotiate deals. The par rate will be based on the prevailing interest rate environment, with factors changing it slightly for different potential borrowers and the risk associated with them based on creditworthiness. Par rate is the fair market value of a loan for a person with certain risk characteristics, from a lending institution of certain size and qualities. The par rate is the reference point around which a borrower and a lender will strike a deal, even though this is often unknown to the borrower. If the lender, which might be a bank loan officer or a mortgage broker, gives the borrower a break on the front-end cost of the loan, the borrower might have some interest tacked on to the par rate to make up for it. Continue reading...