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What is the black swan theory?

The Black Swan Theory serves as a reminder to investors that unpredictable events can radically change our lives, society, and the markets. The Black Swan Theory, based on a recent book by Nicholas Nassim Taleb called “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” analyzes how events that were completely unexpected, or perhaps considered impossible, radically changed the world. Historical events such as the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the invention of the personal computer are categorized as Black Swans: they were unforeseeable, and their enormous impact on human civilization was only explainable in hindsight, according to Dr. Taleb himself. Continue reading...

What is the Black-Scholes formula?

The Black-Scholes formula is a formula and market model for explaining or determining the price of European-style options. It was developed in 1973 by two world-renowned economists, Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, and it led to a Nobel Prize in 1997. As opposed to the American-style of options, which can be exercised at any time, European-style options can only be exercised on their expiration date, they are not exposed to dividends, and they have no commission structure to consider. Some are content to use Black-Scholes for quick applications to American-style, but It is not as accurate as it should be. Continue reading...

What are Asset-Backed Securities?

An Asset-Backed Security, or ABS, are bonds or notes backed by financial assets. It is an example of “securitization.” The assets within the ABS generally tend to consist of different kinds of debt receivables, such as credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans, and so forth. Banks build portfolios of receivables in making loans and issuing credit, and then in many cases package these loans together and sell them to investors (known as “securitization”). Continue reading...

What is an Account Balance?

An account balance is the amount either credited to or owed on a ledger assigned to a particular entity or line-item. The balance of an account is the net debit or credit assigned to it after all transactions have been documented for a current period. Transactions might be deposits, withdrawals, interest credited, fees, or other activity. The account in question could be a personal savings or checking account, or a ledger account at a business or institution, or another form of account, such as the macroeconomic concept of current national account. Accounts are said to be “in the red” when there is a net debit (negative) amount, and “in the black” when there is a net positive balance (net credit). Continue reading...

What is an Asset-Backed Security?

Asset-backed securities are bonds or notes that come in several forms, but they typically use the cash flows from debt repayment as the asset that backs them. The assets that back the bonds called asset-backed securities (ABS) can be basically anything with a fairly predictable cash flow, but debt repayment cash flows tend to be used the most. These include credit card debt, home equity loans, auto loans, student loans, and so forth. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to some other portfolio theories?

Plenty of theories are known because they are useful, and it is up to you to discern which ones may be worth your time and fit your situation and investment or analysis style. There’s always merit to any theory which has been put through rigorous statistical tests. However, keep in mind that as with any other statistical inferences, an event with probability zero sometimes happens (Black Swans), and an event with probability one sometimes doesn’t. Continue reading...

How are option prices computed?

Option prices are decided by the buyers and sellers in the marketplace, but are tied closely to the amount of risk inherent in the agreed upon expiration date and strike price. Option prices change as the market factors in the relevant information. The main factor is the strike price. The closer an option’s strike price is to the actual market price of a security, the higher it’s price will be. Once it’s in-the-money, it has inherent value that makes it essentially the same price as the market security that underlies it. The expiration date of the contract is also a factor because if the expiration date is closing in, and the strike price is not quite close enough to the market price of the underlying asset, there is little chance that the option will be useful. Continue reading...

What are Mortgage-Backed Securities?

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are products that bundle mortgages together and are traded like securities for sale on the markets. Typically investment banks build these products by bundling mortgages with different interest rates and risk premiums, with the hope of the investor gaining a higher yield than can be found from traditional risk-free products, like U.S. Treasuries. Mortgage-backed securities got an infamous name during the 2008 financial crisis, as many of the packaged loans were subprime in nature. Many MBS products lost incredible value during the crisis, particularly following ruling FAS 157, which required banks to mark their value to market. Continue reading...

What is an Accelerated Share Repurchase?

An Accelerated Share Repurchase (ASR) is a method by which companies can buy back a significant amount of their outstanding shares with the help of an investment bank. By enlisting the help of an investment bank to accelerate a buy-back, a company can cleanly retire a large bulk of shares at once. These agreements have come into use in the last 10 years, and there is of course some variation in their composition. They fall under a category of buybacks known as structured buybacks. Continue reading...

What is Securitization?

Securitization is to turn an asset which would otherwise not be a liquid, tradable security, into one. Simply put, securitization turns assets into securities. The most common example when discussing securitization is mortgage-backed securities, in which the cash flow of interest and principal payments on mortgage loans has been pooled, cut up, and distributed for sale in the form of marketable securities which can be held by an everyday investor. The bank or institution who sold the mortgage-backed securities receives cash which they can loan out to more home-buyers. Continue reading...

What Is the Black Market?

A black market, often referred to as a shadow economy, is a clandestine platform, either physical or virtual, where goods or services are illicitly exchanged. The term "black" signifies the illegal nature of the goods, services, or the transactions themselves. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of black markets, why they exist, what they encompass, and the debate surrounding their impact on society. Continue reading...

What is Form 1040-X?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 1040-X is the amendment form used to change previously submitted information from the 1040, 1040-A, or 1040-EZ tax filing form. The taxpayer has 3 years to file the 1040-X to make changes. The 1040-A and EZ are simpler versions of the 1040 which can be used by individuals who have relatively simple filings to do, and have modest household income. The 1040-X requires a line-by-line amendment request and explanation of why the changes are being requested. You will also need to attach supporting documents that provide more information about the changes being requested. Continue reading...

What is a Calendar Spread?

A calendar spread is a strategy also known as a horizontal spread or time spread, in which the investor uses two options contracts, with the same strike price, on the same underlying security, but with different expiration dates. The trader will “write” (sell) the near-term one (front month) and hold the one with the more distant expiration date (back month) long. This is a debit spread, since the investor will pay more to establish this position than is received from the short sale of the near-term option: longer-term options have a greater time value than short-term options. Continue reading...

What does 'Outstanding Shares' mean?

Outstanding shares refers to all of the shares of company held in total, which includes all ownership - retail investors, institutional, the company’s officers, insiders, and so on. Outstanding shares are listed on the balance sheet under “Capital Stock,” and are used in calculating market capitalization, earnings per share, and other critical per share calculations. The amount of outstanding shares can fluctuate over time on the basis of corporate actions, such as share buybacks (reduces overall count) or new share issuance (increases overall count). Continue reading...

Who Can Contribute to a Roth IRA?

Most people will be able to contribute to a Roth, but once your income hits certain limits, you may need to find another way. Many people use Roth IRAs to make after-tax retirement contributions that will not be taxable upon withdrawal. If you have earned income under certain income limits, you can fund a Roth for yourself and even for a non-working spouse. Roth IRAs cannot be opened by everyone: the income limits are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and marital status. Continue reading...

What are Load Mutual Funds?

“Load” mutual funds are those which have a fee structure that includes a front-end or back-end sales charge. All funds have expenses, but not all funds have loads. Loads are sales charges that are part of the fee structure of a mutual fund. Each mutual fund will typically offer a few types of shares classes to its investors, and the main difference between the share classes are their fee structures. There are front-end loads, which come out of your initial investment and can be up to 5%. Continue reading...

What is Form 1045: Application for a Tentative Refund?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 1045 can be used to apply for a refund that might carry-back of up to 5 years, if an individual or trust has overpaid on their taxes, finds Net Operating Losses (NOL), or has section 1256 losses to carry-back. The 1045 is meant to be the quickest way to get a carry-back refund. Net Operating Losses from a pass-through entity or business can be carried back up to 5 years now, according to updates to IRC 172(h). Section 1256, which applies to futures contract investing, will allow a carry-back of losses in a 3-year time frame. For such carry-backs, the standard filing is IRS Form 1045. Continue reading...

What is Cash-Flow Financing?

Cash flow financing is an alternative method of securing a loan, in which cash flows are the collateral, not assets. In cash flow financing, also known as cash flow loans, a lending institution will base their decisions regarding the size of the loan and the loan repayment schedule on future expected cash flows of the company. The cash flows serve as collateral instead of assets, as in an asset-backed loan. Continue reading...

What's important to know about real estate investments?

Real estate can be purchased in a form you can see, touch, and pay maintenance costs on, or it can be purchased indirectly through the use of REITs and other securities tied to the real estate industry. Real estate investments fall into a wide spectrum of subsets. You can invest in residential property, commercial property, development projects, raw land, etc. Within the residential sphere are multi-family residential complexes, rental houses, foreclosure flips, and vacation rentals with property management. Continue reading...

What Are Black Swan Events in Investing?

J.C. Penney, an iconic name in American retail, faces turbulent times. With its stock plummeting to historic lows and the shadow of competitors' failures looming, is there hope on the horizon? This analysis delves into the factors influencing J.C. Penney's stock trajectory, from economic challenges to internal strategies. Discover the company's financial maneuvers, its position in the broader retail landscape, and the potential paths it might take in the coming years. Whether you're an investor or just curious about the fate of a retail giant, this exploration offers insights into the complexities of the modern retail market. Continue reading...