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What is Effective Annual Interest Rate?

Also known as the annual equivalent rate (AER), the effective annual interest rate is the actual annual interest rate on a bond or loan when it compounds more than once a year. The effects of compounding will make the AER higher than the annual interest rate if the security compounds greater than annually. Continue reading...

Is there such a thing as the “January effect?”

The January Effect is a hypothesis which states that stocks will see their biggest monthly gains in January. The January Effect states that the stock market usually increases during the first few days in January, or that the largest monthly gains of the year will be realized in January, therefore January will set the pace. There are many explanations for this effect, such as tax-loss selling in December, fresh starts after the New Year, and many others. Continue reading...

Is there such a thing as the “pre-holiday effect?”

Pre-Holiday price fluctuations have been observed in many instances, but there a difference of opinion as to whether the markets are higher or lower just before holiday. Pre-Holiday Seasonality is the idea that prices will rise or fall before a holiday weekend in which the market will be closed for a day. When researching this phenomenon you may find colloquial wisdom stating that prices always rise before a holiday, but in actuality most of the evidence points the opposite direction: prices are most likely to close lower the day or two before a holiday weekend, and may remain low the day after the holiday, but this provides a possible opportunity to ride the upswing. Continue reading...

What factors affect currency exchange rates?

Currency exchange rates will fluctuate with various macroeconomic factors such as inflation, interest rates, trade balance, and so on, as well as political climate. Currency exchange rates are influenced by a number of factors, with some experts listing 5, some experts listing as many as 10. The main variables that will affect exchange rates are inflation rates, interest rates, the trade balance / current account, speculation in Forex markets, and government policies and interventions. Continue reading...

What is Income Tax?

Income tax is paid to the government based on the amount of income earned. There are federal income taxes, and some states have their own income taxes, too. As an employee for a company, income taxes will be withheld from paychecks using the company’s best estimation of your annual earnings. At the end of the year it may turn out that they withheld too much, and the government may give you a tax refund for what was overpaid. 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...

What is an ETF? Definition

ETFs are very popular and useful investment vehicles that offer affordable diversification and professional portfolio management. An ETF is a basket of securities that is designed to ‘mimic’ the performance of an index, sector, or category of securities. For example, the ETF with ticker SPY is designed to track the performance of the S&P 500, and the company that creates the ETF (in this case Barclays iShares) builds the ETF simply by purchasing the 500 stocks in the S&P 500. Investors can purchase shares of the ETF as a means of gaining instant access to all 500 stocks in the S&P 500, thus tracking its performance. Continue reading...

What are foreign currency effects?

Companies with significant operations or sales abroad will be affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. If the dollar strengthens relative to a foreign currency, the price paid for the goods in the country will not be worth as much domestically when the company converts their profits back to dollars. Some foreign currencies fluctuate much more than the US dollar does, but even the dollar can behave unpredictably. This can have a tremendous effect on the bottom line of companies engaged in significant amounts of business abroad. Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here This IRS guide gives taxpayers and businesses an idea of how to calculate the appropriate amount of withholding to do and how to continually estimate tax rate on an ongoing basis for an entire year. It is about 60 pages long and touches on many issues related to tax withholding. Tax withholding applies to payroll needs, self-employed reporting, as well as some retirement planning applications, among other things. Continue reading...

What is Income Tax Payable?

Income Tax Payable is an account on a company’s ledger where they reserve amounts that will be used to pay the tax liability in the current quarter or year. This account tends to be separate from payroll taxes and sales taxes. This account will typically be empty at the end of the fiscal year. Corporations must pay income taxes based on their gross income, and the funds to pay them are held in the Income Tax Payable account on their company ledger. Continue reading...

What is Form 706: Estate Tax and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here The Form 706 is required not only if there is a tax implication for an estate, but also to claim exclusions. Each person has an exclusion of 5.49 Million as of 2017. For married couples, that goes double, such that heirs to an estate under $11 million probably will not owe any estate taxes. A surviving spouse should still report the inherited portion of the deceased spouse’s estate up to the exclusion amount, otherwise the exclusion will be lost. There are also lines for the lifetime gift exclusion amount and the generation skipping transfer tax. Continue reading...

What are Bond Ratings?

The possibility of a company or municipal government defaulting on their bond obligations, usually by going bankrupt, is a real one. For this reason, all bonds are rated according to the financial stability of the issuer. A look at the history of corporate and municipal debt will illuminate the fact that the possibility of the issuer being unable to pay its obligations to bondholders is a very real one. There is an established system of bond ratings that gives a rough estimate of the bond's reliability. Continue reading...

What is a Run Rate?

Run rate is a term that can be applied to a certain type of accounting and management estimation or to the depletion of equity options. The first kind is when a current metric (such as sales revenue for a quarter) is assumed to extend out to the end of the year or accounting period for estimation or valuation purposes. The second kind uses the average dilution from the past three years, generally, to show the effect that convertible securities are having on the share price of a company. Continue reading...

What is Accrual Rate?

This term might apply to bonds or pensions and other financial instruments which build up interest value which is paid out at a later time. Accrual Rate is the rate at which a nominal interest rate is credited to an account that will be paid out at a later time. A bond sold in the secondary market, for instance, will take the accrual rate into account if the sale takes place in between coupon payments. 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 an Interest Rate?

An interest rate is a simple financial principle that’s been around for centuries, whereby a borrower has to pay for money borrowed. The interest rate is agreed to between the lender and the borrower, and there may be provisions under which the rate could change over the course of  a loan. In simple terms, an interest rate is the cost of money. Continue reading...

What is a Consolidated Tax Return?

A consolidated tax return is a single filing that covers several subsidiary companies and their parent company. One of the advantages of doing so is that the capital gains of one can be offset by the capital losses of another. It can also allow a profit sharing plan for the parent corporation to use profits from the subsidiaries. Corporations with subsidiaries can file a consolidated tax return that covers all of the affiliated companies. Continue reading...

What are Federal Tax Brackets?

Income taxation in the United States is done by assigning different tax rates to each specific range of income. Generally the lower income amounts will correspond to lower percentage toward federal income tax than higher income amounts. This is called a progressive tax and is frequently misunderstood. Many people mistakenly think that if they “fall into” a specific tax bracket based on their income that they will owe that higher tax rate that corresponds to the bracket on all of their income. Continue reading...

What is a foreign tax deduction?

Workers who earn income in foreign countries will frequently pay taxes on the income in the country in which the wages were earned. In such cases the worker may be eligible to take deductions for the amount of taxes paid so that their entire income is not subject to taxes again in their country of citizenship. Ex-patriot workers who earn income overseas are generally eligible for tax deductions, credits, or exclusions to account for the taxes that they have already paid on their income in the foreign country. Continue reading...

What is Fiscal Policy?

Fiscal Policy refers to the tactics used by a central government to influence the nation’s economy, whether by setting tax and/or spending policies. Fiscal policy is related to monetary policy, in that they are both aimed to either boost an economy or temper growth to avoid overheating. A fiscal policy conducive to growth would aim to have low taxes and higher level of spending. When a government invokes “austerity” measures, it means they are trying to cut spending most likely to reel-in budget deficits or overall debt levels. Continue reading...