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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...

What is Dividend Policy?

Different companies have different approaches to dividends: whether to pay them, whether it’s a fixed amount in the budget or dependent on the kind of expenses they incur each year. These and other considerations make up what is known as a company’s dividend policy. Companies may have a different phases in their development that will lead them to adopt different dividend policies along the way. As a young company in the Growth category, the dividend policy will most likely be not to distribute any dividends. Continue reading...

What is Hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is when a rate of inflation grows exponentially, and a currency is rapidly devalued. Hyperinflation occurs in the midst of dire economic circumstances. This is usually partially due to the piling on of downward price pressure in which newly printed currency rapidly floods the market as the government attempts to cover debt obligations. Sometimes this stems from situations where the government is having trouble receiving adequate taxes from the population. Continue reading...

What is the Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016. Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically. As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: Continue reading...

What is Monetary Policy?

Monetary policy is the stance of the central bank at any given time regarding the tightening or loosening of rates, or the issuance of new currency denominations, that will affect the money supply in the country. Monetary policy is the prerogative of the central bank but may be influenced by congress as well as private banking institutions and the central banks of other countries. The goal of monetary policy is to keep the Federal Funds Rate or the LIBOR, or whatever it might be depending on the country, at just the right level to keep the economy going in the direction that will be most helpful. Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Period?

An accounting period is a specific time frame from which documents and records have been used by accountants to arrive at reported balances and statements. An accounting period can be a fiscal year, quarter, or month, or any other time frame for which reporting is being done. At any given time, there may be different accounting periods running. Books are kept and reports are made for different tiers of accounting periods. Continue reading...

What Provisions Should a Long-Term Care Policy Contain?

Long-term care insurance policies can be structured in any number of ways, depending on your desired coverage. More coverage equals more premium cost, but may save you money later in life if you use your policy for a number of years. There are a variety of provisions (also known as riders) to consider, including but not limited to the dollar amount of your daily benefit (usually $200 - $500), whether it is a reimbursement or paid in full, which facilities qualify for coverage, what kind of assistance you’ll provided, whether or not it includes a nurse on duty 24 hours a day, access to a doctor, whether you’ll have a room to yourself or not, and so on. Continue reading...

What is Stagflation?

Stagflation is the occurrence of both stagnation, which is slowing growth and production levels, and inflation, which is the increase of the average cost of goods. If production costs rise for some reason, such as higher oil prices, it can cause economic growth to slow down and the supply of goods in the market to drop. This is known as stagnation. The weakened supply of goods in the market and the higher production costs of the goods will cause the retail prices of the good in the market to go up. Continue reading...

What are market cycles?

Markets are said to experience cycles of various length and magnitude. Cycles tend to be defined in retrospect and it is not always evident what part of a cycle the market is in. Cycles can be of various length and magnitude, with current cycles existing as minor subtexts of the larger cycles. In Elliott Wave Theory, for instance, cycles of various levels exist simultaneously, with the longer cycles exhibiting “self-similar” patterns to the shorter-term cycles, as in naturally occurring fractals in nature (since Elliott’s theory is that the market is a natural phenomenon, just like the breeding cycles of rabbits). Continue reading...

What is a Loss?

A loss refers to reduction in the value of an investment, or in business terms, to having expenses outweigh revenues. In a company’s fiscal year, if their operating and total expenses outweigh their revenues, they are operating at a loss. If those companies are not supported by private capital and operate at a loss for too long, it can easily lead to bankruptcy or closure. Newer businesses often run at a net loss for the first few years, while they rush to build labor and capital infrastructure, with costs such as equipment, buildings, technology, employees, and rights. Continue reading...

What is Earnings Season?

Earnings season describes not one, but four times in a year, when corporations release their quarterly earnings reports. Investors look forward to this time because they are able to get an update about how the year is going, compared to projections. After each fiscal quarter ends, there are a few weeks in which companies file their quarterly reports with the SEC and announce their current earnings and sales numbers. Each of these periods is known as earnings season. Continue reading...

What is currency substitution?

Currency Substitution can be an official or ad hoc occurrence in a country whose commerce is partially, or fully, conducted using the currency of another country. Some currencies which are pegged to another currency at a fixed rate (especially at whole integers) are domestically exchanged in the same manner that the local currency is. Many countries have completely adopted the currency of another country, and do not have a central bank of their own. Continue reading...

What is Second-To-Die Life Insurance?

Second-to-die policies are also known as survivorship policies, and are primarily used by married couples to provide a guaranteed legacy to their children after they have both passed away. These come in handy for estate planning, when an estate tax bill might be looming for the heirs. To be clear, this insurance covers the lives of two individuals and provides a death benefit to a listed beneficiary only after the last surviving insured individual dies. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Open Market Committee?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the monetary policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System. The FOMC makes the decision on “raising” or “lowering” interest rates, which refers to moves in the federal funds rate. The FOMC consists of 12 members, which is comprised of the seven members of the Board of Governors and 5 of the 12 Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York always has a seat on the FOMC, while the other presidents rotate for one year terms. This policy-making body meets eight times a year to decide monetary policy, which consists of setting the benchmark interest rate and make decisions regarding the supply of money. All dependent on economic conditions. Continue reading...

What is Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement?

A Profit and Loss Statement, also referred to as an “income statement,” is a corporate statement that summarizes the revenues, costs and expenses incurred by a company during a specific time period, such as a quarter or a fiscal year. The main difference between a P&L statement and a balance sheet is that the P&L is designed to show changes in line items over the period analyzed, versus a balance sheet which simply shows a comprehensive snapshot of a company’s asset and liabilities on a set date. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Reserve Bank?

The Federal Reserve banking system was created in 1913, the same year that income taxes were added to the US Constitution. 12 regional Fed banks were established, each of which plays a role in monitoring and implementing interventions to the flow of money in the economy. The Federal Reserve Bank is a 12-bank system in the United States that plays the role of the country’s central bank. Central banks in other countries are typically part of the government and print the actual currency, but in this case the Fed is independent of the actual US government, and the Treasury Department technically prints the money. Continue reading...

What is a 10-k?

A 10-k is an annual filing required by the SEC for companies over a certain size, which provides the regulators with more detail than can be found in an Annual Report. If a company has over $10 Million in assets and equity shares divided among 500 or more people, it must file a 10-K within 60 days of the end of the fiscal year, as well as 10-Q filings quarterly, whether it is publicly or privately traded. The 10-K will include specific details that companies may not have put in their Annual Report to shareholders, such as executive compensation, subsidiaries, audited financial statements, lawsuits, and so on. 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 the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change, over time, in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI is an important economic indicator, as it’s changes influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions and it gives an indication if an economy is experiencing adequate inflation. The most common reading on the CPI is % change from a previous period, with most developed economies generally striving for 2% annualized inflation. Continue reading...

What is foreign exchange intervention?

If a central bank takes actions that intentionally and artificially affect the value of a currency, particularly its own, it is engaging in what is known as a Foreign Exchange Intervention, or an interventionist policy. Central banks occasionally use interventions in foreign exchange markets to achieve a desirable end. The banks will intentionally make trades and hold certain amounts of currencies or derivatives with the sole purpose of manipulating the value of their domestic currency. The reasons for that manipulation might be to slow down inflation or to make their county’s exports look more attractive by pushing the value of their currency lower. Continue reading...