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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...

A+/A1 — credit rating

A+ — S&P / Fitch A1 — Moody’s In the spectrum of ratings given to bonds and companies, A+/A1 is a very good rating to get, even if it is the 5th rating from the top. The Big Three ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P, give ratings for creditworthiness after inspecting the books of companies who issue bonds. There are credit ratings given for companies and credit ratings given to bond issues. Continue reading...

AAA/Aaa — credit rating

AAA — S&P / Fitch Aaa — Moody’s AAA/Aaa rated bond issues have an almost nonexistent chance of defaulting, according to the major ratings institutions that issue the ratings. AAA/Aaa is the highest rating a bond issue or company can get. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, many companies, and the US Government itself, were downgraded from AAA to AA+. Only two companies in the US still retain the AAA rating: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Continue reading...

What is Times Interest Earned (TIE)?

Times Interest Earned (TIE) is also known as the interest coverage ratio, is a cash-flow analysis that compares the pre-tax earnings of a company to the total amount of interest payable on their debt obligations. A healthy ratio indicates that a company will probably not default on loan repayments. To compute this ratio, divide a company’s annual income before taxes by their annual interest payments on debt obligations. This ratio is not concerned with the actual principal due on loans since the principal amount is already pegged to some of the assets on the books of the company, and other fundamental equations will already factor that in. Continue reading...

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+ — S&P / Fitch B1 — Moody’s B+/B1 is within the range of ratings given to High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk bonds. B+/B1 is the 14th rating rating from the top rating of AAA/Aaa in the scales used by the Big Three credit ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. They evaluate the fundamentals of companies, municipal entities, and their bond contracts to determine how much risk of default is present. The limit for the category of Investment Grade bonds is BBB-, and there are a few categories of BB above B. Continue reading...

What is a credit default swap?

A Credit Default Swap is a contract that provides a hedge against credit default risk. To guarantee against the non-payment of a loan, a Credit Default Swap can be purchased for a premium. The seller of the swap bears the risk of payment if a bond issuer defaults, or if there is a similarly threatening “credit event” which is agreed upon in the terms of the swap contract. Generally, the buyer of a credit default swap will pay quarterly premiums for the protection, and the annualized premium is called the "spread," which may be a set percentage of the notional amount. Continue reading...

What is the Prime Rate

The prime rate is the lowest interest rate that banks will charge on loans at a given time, based on the Federal Funds Rate. Individual banks set their own prime rate, which they may also call their "Reference Rate" or "Base Lending Rate." It is the least they will charge for a loan at a given time, based on the creditworthiness of the customer, and the only clients whose risk of default is low enough to approach the prime rate are very large commercial clients. Continue reading...

What was the Subprime Meltdown?

A high volume of loans issued to those who were unable to repay them, and a high volume of derivative securities traded on top of these loans, contributed to the subprime meltdown of 2007-2009. A large amount of collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and other collateralized debt were owned by large institutions and investors as alternative high yield investments prior to the crash of 2007-2009. Continue reading...

What is Collateral?

Collateral is an asset/property that a borrower commits to a lender in exchange for a loan, which will be forfeited if the borrower defaults. A loan that has collateral attached to it will generally carry a more favorable interest rate, but that is not necessarily always the case. Some examples of collateral are a house when you take out a mortgage, your car when you take out an auto loan, or the stocks in your portfolio if you take your account on margin. Continue reading...

BB/Ba2 — credit rating

BB — S&P / Fitch Ba2 — Moody’s A bond rated BB/Ba2 is just below investment grade and is a somewhat speculative financial instrument. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) are the Big Three major credit ratings institutions. They each have proprietary formulas for assessing the financial strength and creditworthiness of companies, municipalities, insurers, and bond issues, The most common use of these ratings is for bonds, as investors seek to learn how likely it is that a bond will default on its payments. Continue reading...

A/A2 — credit rating

A — S&P / Fitch A2 — Moody’s Such ratings are given to bond issues and insurance companies, primarily, and this particular one is in the Upper Medium band of the Investment Grade ratings. Investment grade bonds are considered to have a very low possibility of default. The ratings go up to AAA/Aaa and all the way down to DDD/D, with Investment Grade bonds being in the range of AAA/Aaa to BBB-/Baa3. Continue reading...

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...

B/B2 — credit rating

B — S&P / Fitch B2 — Moody’s A bond issue that has a moderate chance of default but a high yield might be given a B2/B rating by the major ratings institutions. Bonds are rated based on their risk of default by the Big Three ratings institutions: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. The latter two use the same symbols, so if the algorithms and analysts at the two ratings institutions come to similar conclusions, a company might have the same rating from each of them, such as the “B” in this example. B2/B ratings are the 15th ratings down the scale from the top rating of AAA/Aaa. Continue reading...

What is Bond Insurance?

Bond insurance is a contract that protects the issuer and the holder of bonds from the risk that bond payments will not be made. Bond issues from the corporate or municipal world, or from derivative sources as with asset-backed securities and CDOs, come with the risk of default-- that is, that payments will not be made on time. The major credit ratings agencies (CRAs) assign a risk of default to each bond issue with proprietary analysis methods and ratings. Continue reading...

What is Risk?

Risk can be defined as exposure to the possibility of loss of an asset. Risk might be used to denote the cause of the potential loss, or the probability of the loss. In finance, it is common to hear about the correlation between risk and return; more risk may yield a higher return, but it also has the potential for more loss. The situation requires that an investor willing to take such a risk must provide the capital to fund the investment which may grow or may fail. Continue reading...

B-/B3 — credit rating

B- — S&P / Fitch B3 — Moody’s In the world of junk bonds, a B3/B- rating is about as low of a rating as most investors will venture to explore. Bonds are rated by independent ratings institutions known as the Big Three: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. Two companies, S&P and Fitch, use the same symbols, and the B- in this example belongs to them. Moody’s has its own system, and the B3 in this example is theirs. 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 are credit derivatives?

Stemming from the hedging strategy of Credit Default Swaps, an entire speculative derivatives market continues to grow, in which tranches of credit risk and indices are traded. With the ballooning of consumer credit in recent years, it is only natural that a credit derivatives market would follow it. In essence, the risk associated with a loan or bond is separated from the actual asset and is passed on to a counter-party for a premium, and then other market participants become involved, perhaps in the form of futures contracts or other derivatives. Continue reading...

What is Systematic Risk?

Systematic risk is the broad risk of fluctuations and downturns in the market as a whole, which it is said cannot be eliminated through diversification. Systematic risk is also known as market risk, which is the exposure of all investors to the broad movements and downturns of the market as a whole. Theoretically it cannot be controlled for through simple diversification, since that would only bring a portfolio closer to the broad market performance, with a Beta closer to 1. Continue reading...

What is currency risk?

Countries, investors, and international businesses have to frequently assess currency risk, which is the chance that exchange rates will change unfavorably at inopportune times. An investment in a foreign security or company, or income payments coming from foreign sources, can be at risk for exchange rate changes. If an investor or company has financial interests which are based in another currency, or if the investor engages in Forex trading, currency risk looms over the future value of the holdings, on top of any typical market risk. Continue reading...

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