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Is my portfolio diversified enough?

Diversification is intended to reduce the volatility of price movements in individual securities, but many people are not sure what proper diversification looks like. It depends. You should definitely have exposure to at least two asset classes: equities and bonds. Within each asset class, diversification is also important. In your equity portfolio, you should have exposure to stocks with various capitalizations (such as Large Cap, Mid Cap, and Small Cap), various geographical areas (such as the Europe), Developing Markets, and Emerging Markets. Continue reading...

What are some strategies for diversifying a portfolio?

There are many ways to diversify a portfolio, but all of them center around a strategy of owning different types of asset classes. For equity investors, perhaps the best strategy for diversifying a portfolio is to own companies from different sectors in different style categories, maybe even across the globe. The S&P 500 has ten different sectors, and a very broadly diversified portfolio should have exposure to each one in some capacity. Continue reading...

How Much Money Should I Set Aside for Emergencies?

Research suggests that more than half of adult Americans do not have sufficient savings needed for emergency purposes. Here’s a startling but true piece of information: most surveys conducted in the past few years indicate that more than half of adult Americans do not have any kind of emergency fund at all, and even fewer have enough to cover three months of living expenses in the event of an unexpected event, like job loss or health emergency. Continue reading...

What is a Market Maker?

A market maker is a broker-dealer firm or a registered individual that will hold a certain number of shares of a security in order to facilitate trading. There could be as many as 50 market makers for one particular security, and they compete for customer order flows by displaying buy and sell quotations for a guaranteed number of shares. The market maker spread refers to the difference between the amount a market maker is willing to pay for a security and the amount that the other party is willing to sell it. Continue reading...

How Should I Invest my First Thousand Dollars Saved?

If you already have an emergency fund, you should put your $1,000 into a brokerage account and buy an ETF. Keep it simple – buy an ETF that corresponds to the S&P 500, and leave your money there for as long as possible. What Should My First Savings Vehicle Be? Should I Trust an Article Such as “Five Best Ways To Invest For Income?” Continue reading...

What is a market-maker spread?

The difference between the Bid and Ask prices on a stock or other security are known as the Spread. Designated market makers are traders whose job it is to make a market for securities, by offering to buy or sell shares, and thus creating liquidity, often at the same time. Their money is made on the spread. In highly liquid markets, the spread will shrink. So if everyone is buying and selling the same stock one day, there may be virtually no spread between the Bid and the Ask price, and this is seen as efficient. Continue reading...

How large are market fluctuations?

Fluctuations are represented in terms of volatility, and different types of investments experience different levels of volatility. The answer here depends on which market you’re talking about. Generally speaking, the capital markets in fixed instruments, such as government bonds, are the least volatile. Market fluctuations of the price of commodities, small-cap stocks, and emerging markets are the largest, and can be as high as 30-40% per year. Continue reading...

What are Other Mutual Fund Classifications?

Let’s look at some of the classifications for mutual funds that are determined using criteria other than market cap and P/E ratios. What is Mutual Fund Classification According to the Price to Earnings Ratio? What is Mutual Fund Classification According to Market Capitalization? Besides the main classifications for equity mutual funds which are derived from market cap and price-to-earnings ratio, many other categories for mutual funds exist. These criteria may be based on how much exposure a fund has to a specific industry, sectors or geographical regions, as well as the types of management strategies that the fund uses and which kinds of assets are held. Continue reading...

What is active money management?

Active management is when an investor or money manager attempts to outperform an index or benchmark, using tactical strategies. Many economists and financial professionals believe that the markets are efficient. This means that all available financial information has already been built into the prices of securities, and that you cannot outperform the market by making specific selections of stocks, timing the market, reallocating your assets regularly, following the advice of market pundits, or finding the best portfolio managers. Continue reading...

What Does Mark to Market (MTM) Mean?

Mark to Market (MTM) is an accounting method meant to price an asset by its most recent market price. An example would be mutual funds, whose “NAV” price is a mark to market price of how much the mutual fund closed for at the end of a trading session. The mark to market accounting method has some pros and cons. On the pro side, if an asset is very liquid, then MTM will provide an accurate reflection of its current value. Continue reading...

What is market research?

Market research is the process of evaluating a possible opportunity for entering into a market with a new product or company, or for evaluating the effectiveness of a product or company in a market that they are already invested in. Market research can also be important for decisions regarding mergers and acquisitions. It may involve surveys and market study groups. Sometimes a company will conduct its own market research, but often third-party companies are hired for the task. These companies may specialize in sampling and surveying methods for consumer groups, and/or statistical analysis of a business model or product’s chance of success in a given market. Companies may look to such analysts if they are considering a merger or acquisition, or of launching a new product. Continue reading...

What is market efficiency?

Market efficiency describes the degree to which relevant information is integrated into the price of a security. With the prevalence of information technology today, markets are considered highly efficient; most investors have access to the same information with prices and industry news, updated instantaneously. The Efficient Market Hypothesis stems from this idea. Efficient markets are said to have all relevant information priced-in to the securities almost immediately. High trading volume also makes a market more efficient, as there is a high degree of liquidity for buyers and sellers, and the spread between bid and ask prices narrows. Continue reading...

What is a market-on-open order?

Traders can enter time-specific trade orders in the form of opening or closing orders, which are only to be executed as close to the opening or closing price as possible. Market-on-open orders are looking to buy or sell immediately after the market opens, at the opening price. Market-on-open orders are instructions for a broker or floor trader (even though we don’t see those much anymore these days) to buy or sell shares at opening price of the stock being traded. Continue reading...

What is market saturation?

Market Saturation is the point at which there are few consumers that are still interested in buying a product because those who were ever likely to already have done so. Saturation can be said to exist for all similar products in a market. This may call for different strategies which could keep a company going. One is that products can be made to wear out after a certain amount of time and need replacement. Another is that the business can shift its focus to subscription or service-based income. Continue reading...

What is market share?

Market share is the percentage of the total amount of similar products sold in a marketplace that are constituted by a particular product or the products of a particular company. This sometimes used synonymously with the term Market Penetration. Most industries have many competitors offering essentially the same services and products; in fact that is a sign of a healthy capitalistic marketplace. The market share of a company is the proportion of the total sales in that industry that belong to their company. Continue reading...

What is a Reverse Stock Split?

A reverse stock split consolidates stocks at a certain ratio and reduces the number of shares outstanding while increasing the value of each share, as opposed to a regular stock split, which divides existing stocks into more shares which are worth less apiece. A normal stock split, which increases the number of shares an investor owns without increasing the total value of his or her interest in the company, has the benefit of increasing liquidity with the shares and possibly narrowing the bid/ask spread. A reverse stock split reduces the number of shares in circulation by effectively combining the existing shares at a certain ratio (such as, 2 shares now equals 1 share). Continue reading...

What is a Home Debtor?

In contrast to the term “home owner,” home debtor is reserved for those who will seemingly never be able to pay off the mortgage(s) on their home, or who have already defaulted. Most Americans live in homes that they pay on, but are still primarily owned by the bank that loaned them money. Banks have insurance to protect them against mortgage defaults. Home mortgage loans are the primary way that Americans by homes today. Continue reading...

What is market exposure?

Market exposure is the degree to which an investor is participating in the risks and returns of the market as a whole or a particular sector. Exposure can have a positive or negative connotation, but, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Market exposure allows an investor to participate in the potential upside of the market, but can also subject the investor to the inherent risks. Some people save money religiously but are not likely to retire the way they want to because they aren’t willing to let their money be risked in the market. Continue reading...

Are the markets efficient?

The concept of an efficient market is more applicable today than it was when it was conceived, a truly efficient market is nearly impossible. The Efficient Market Hypothesis states that random new information will affect the value of securities, and that new information disseminates so quickly among rational investors that it is futile to try to beat the “market portfolio.” Thirty years ago, this was more of a theory than an observable phenomenon, and plenty of inefficiencies in the dissemination of information and the pricing of securities could be pointed out. Continue reading...

What is secondary market?

The secondary markets are where most trading goes on today, where the trades are made investor-to-investor using shares that were issued sometime before, and profits are made by investors and not the underlying company who issued the shares originally. The secondary market is a term used to describe the market created by those who are selling and buying shares which were issued some time ago in what's called the primary market. Continue reading...

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