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Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities
Technical Analysis and TradingAnalysis BasicsTechnical IndicatorsTrading ModelsPatternsTrading OptionsTrading ForexTrading CommoditiesSpeculative Investments
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Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is Consensus?

Consensus in investing is a measure of how in line investor beliefs are with one another. It describes strong trends in both trading and investor sentiment, often manifesting as bullish or bearish outlooks on a security or market. Bullish or bearish outlooks can be misleading, however. Opinions are not facts, and the noise of opinions from news sources and pundits can make opinions seem more factual than they are. Many investors require time to develop and form opinions, or form opinions for the wrong reasons, and can succumb to a herd mentality Continue reading...

What is the adaptive market hypothesis?

The Adaptive Market Hypothesis uses theories of behavioral economics to update the aging Efficient Market Hypothesis. There have been many debates surrounding the Efficient Market Hypothesis and its validity, and a lot of research over the last 15 years or so has been done which suggests that behavioral finance holds many of the keys to an accurate “universal theory” of the markets. A marriage between the two schools of thought has given birth to the Adaptive Market Hypothesis, coined in 2004 by Andrew Lo of MIT. Behavioral and evolutionary principals come into play when theorizing about the large-scale behavior and adaptation of humans in a system. Continue reading...

What are trading models?

Trading models are emotionless systems for decision-making in trading that can be automated or just used for reference. They tend to have logical parameters, such as “if x, then y” which can use popular trading indicators to implement a strategy that might only be used in certain conditions. Trading models are strategies employed with a specific design. Different trading models will use different technical indicators or types of charts to define and search for certain conditions in which a strategy can be used. Once the conditions are met, the model provides the decision-making logic that is intended to carry out a profitable trade without guesswork or emotion. Continue reading...

What are the basics of technical analysis?

What does it mean to technically analyze a stock or other security? Technical analysis involves identifying price ranges, trend momentum, and points of possible reversals via graphical representations of the math behind price movements, examining information to the second or third derivative, and using trial-and-error with formulas. Geometry, calculus, physics, and finance all play a part in this methodology. Continue reading...

What does overbought mean?

Overbought is a term used when analysis indicates demand seems to have been escalated by investor emotion or media hype, beyond the point where it can be sustained or supported by fundamentals. The increased demand drives the price of the security up for a short time, before the overbought security likely experiences an eventual sell-off and price decline. It is hard to determine when a security is overbought, but the Relative Strength Index (RSI), an momentum oscillator developed by Welles Wilder, is one tool that can help make a determination. In the RSI, the average gains and average losses over a specific time period (such as 14 days) are divided to calculate the Relative Strength, then normalized into the Relative Strength Index (RSI), which is range bound between 0 and 100. The RSI typically fluctuates between values of 70 and 30, with higher numbers indicating more momentum. According to this indicator, a security with an RSI over 70 (out of 100) can be considered overbought. Continue reading...

Is there a Benefit to Self-Managing?

An investor may be able to save money in management fees self-managing, but there are also limitations and risks. Perhaps the biggest risk is the role that emotion can play in investing. Even the most skilled professionals are tempted by emotions in the market - big declines like the financial crisis can make one second-guess whether the market has hope of recovering, and big gains can create confidence that leads to less prudent risk-taking. Continue reading...

What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...

How often do I check the performance of my portfolio?

You don’t want to overdo it, but it’s important to stay on top of things. Generally speaking, if your portfolio is run by professional investment managers, you should check the performance quarterly; otherwise, you may not give them enough room to do their jobs. If you run your own portfolio, it is entirely up to you how often you check the performance, but be aware that the closer and more short-term your focus gets, the higher the chance you have of losing sight of the bigger picture. Continue reading...

Should I invest in commodities?

Investing in commodities has lately become accessible to even small retail investors via ETFs. There are now literally hundreds of different commodity ETFs, linked to various individual commodities and baskets (such as agricultural baskets, commodity indices, etc.) These instruments are very complex and sometimes do not reflect the behavior of the underlying commodity. While investing in commodities may significantly diversify your portfolio, it requires profound knowledge of the behavior of the underlying assets. Continue reading...

How much time should I spend thinking about my investments?

You should give your portfolio some deep thought and keep it in the back of your mind throughout your day-to-day, up to a point. Some investors become somewhat obsessive about their portfolio, and it can cause them to lose focus at their own job, to make impulsive and irrational decisions, and to possibly over-trade. Many other investors need a more consistent system to keep up with it. With some good software on your side, or an advisor giving you updates, you should be able to keep up with what’s important without becoming too involved. The average investor, left to their own devices, will tend to make decisions based on emotion, and will likely underperform the market significantly. Continue reading...

What is alpha in investing?

Alpha is a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Alpha’s counterpart, the Beta figure, measures how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole or, when examining mutual funds, how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. Alpha is expressed as integers, which can be translated into percentage points above or below a benchmark for a time period. Investors are interested in higher Alpha figures: the larger the positive Alpha, the more the fund in question has outperformed its benchmark. An Alpha of 2 indicates a performance 2% greater than its benchmark; inversely, a -2 Alpha would denote 2% underperformance. Continue reading...

Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Custodians are the institutions which hold your securities for you and provide some related services. Some will have various arrangements and relationships with exchanges and broker-dealers, and some may do everything in-house; such things have bearing on what your investment options are, how much equity you must have for margin, what kind of fees you pay for various services, and so on. Different custodians tend to structure their fees and services to a particular type of clientele or a particular account size. You may outgrow the custodian you have, or you may discover that there is a better, more affordable option for an account like yours. Continue reading...

How do I Invest in commodities?

Commodities can be acquired through brokerage services that can access the commodities markets, or you can buy the stocks of companies that bring commodities to market. Investors can also gain exposure to commodities through mutual funds and ETFs that focus on them. There are a few ways to invest in commodities. One simple way is to purchase the stock of companies that produce commodities. You can also invest through futures contracts, which are agreements to buy a certain amount of a commodity at a certain price at some point in the future; this is the primary way that commodities are traded. They can also trade at spot, which means at the current price, or through the use of other derivative instruments, such as options on futures contracts. Continue reading...

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

There are many apps and online programs that investors can use, often for free, to help keep an eye on their holdings and to track their investment portfolio. In addition to the software accessible through your custodian, you might want to look at the programs available through Morningstar, Microsoft Money, and others. Apps on your phone (CNBC, TheStreet, Barron’s, MarketWatch, etc.) can keep you updated on market news related to your stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. You can also subscribe to market commentaries delivered via email. Continue reading...

What is Momentum Investing?

Momentum investors usually have their own models for determining whether they think a price trend (to the upside or downside) is set to continue - sometimes it’s looking at a 3 month trend, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes even longer. The idea is that once a trend is established, an investor can buy into its continuance (if its an upward trend), or sell into (or sell short) if it is an established downward trend. Momentum investing is by no means a proven method, but sophisticated investors will try to use models to increase their probabilities of success. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Center?

An investment center is an almost autonomous division of a company whose purpose is to generate returns on invested money. Cost center and profit center are terms used for various kinds of business divisions when observed from a solely financial, instead of operational, standpoint. These categories help a business to identify and group its similar assets for evaluation. A cost center can be turned into a profit center if it manages to reduce costs enough to generate a profit. Continue reading...

What is beta in investing?

Beta is a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole; when examining mutual funds, it indicates how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. It is often referenced with its counterpart, Alpha; a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Continue reading...

What is passive investing?

Passive investing relies on market indices and unmanaged approaches to investing, with the idea being that attempting to beat the market is futile, especially if such attempts involve fees and speculation. Passive investing favors buy-and-hold strategies using no-load, low-fee index funds and other securities meant to be held long-term, in a portfolio allocation suiting the investor that will usually be rebalanced over time to prevent overweighting anything. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Bank?

An investment bank is a financial institution that typically specializes in large, complex transactions, such as underwriting an Initial Public Offering (IPO), mergers and acquisitions, direct investment into start-up firms, or advising large institutional clients on investments/transactions. In short, investment banks help create the bridge between large enterprises and the investor. In that sense, IPOs are one way to accomplish this, but they also help businesses secure financing in other ways, such as through bond issues or derivative products. Continue reading...

What is Investment Analysis?

Investment analysis is the practice of evaluating assets or securities in terms of value, risk and return, as well as correlation with other assets. It is to determine their possible place within various strategies and portfolios. Some analysis will be done seeking the best option for specific asset classes, some analysis will focus on the best overall portfolio for a given situation. Analysis is done using quantitative metrics and indicators, some of which can be considered fundamental analysis tools and some of which are technical analysis tools. Continue reading...