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What is a Ponzi Scheme?

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is a scandal where new investment money is used to create the illusion of returns. A Ponzi scheme (named after Charles Ponzi, who in the early 1900’s was the first to effectively implement such a scheme) is essentially a confidence trick. As an example, suppose 10 people each give someone $100 to invest, with the promise of a 10% return (in addition to the $100 principal) in a year. During the course of that year, 20 more people invest $100 each as well (for a total of $2,000 from the second group). Continue reading...

What was the “Tulip” Bubble?

Markets have been around for much longer than most people think. The Tulip bubble happened in the 1500's! In the last decade of the 1500’s, Tulips were brought to Holland from Constantinople by botanist Carolus Clusius. Within a few years, the Tulips began to spread through Holland like wildfire, becoming luxury goods. As demand rose to astronomical levels, prices skyrocketed along with it. Eventually, people would gain and lose entire fortunes on the beautiful (but not that beautiful) plants. Of course, the actual value of the tulip bulbs was nowhere near the thousands of dollars (if the amounts were converted into today’s standards) that the traders paid for them. Eventually, people began to sell their invaluable tulip bulbs for real cash, and a domino effect ensued. Continue reading...

Do I Need a Financial Advisor?

The answer to this question will depend on the preferences and circumstances of each individual. As your assets grow and your financial picture becomes more complex (with unclear tax implications, and interdependent asset classes), then the answer is more likely to be yes. For those investors with a more modest-size portfolio, it may not be necessary. Financial modeling tools and market research publications are widely available, and while they are not one-size-fits-all answers, they can serve investors quite well when used wisely. Investors who choose not to consult an advisor must be willing to educate themselves. Continue reading...

Can I Start Collecting My Social Security Benefits If I’m Still Working?

Can I Start Collecting My Social Security Benefits If I’m Still Working?

Yes, you can start receiving social security benefits before you actually stop working, and your benefit amount will not be affected if you have attained normal retirement age, or NRA, which is determined based on the year of your birth. NRA is 67 for most people today. If you start to take benefits while working and before the normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. But there are a few caveats to consider if you start to receive the benefits before your normal retirement age. Continue reading...

What is Operating Cash Flow (OCF)?

Operating cash flow is the amount of cash a company is able to generate from its operations - i.e., how much real cash flow is being generated after accounting for expenses. It is calculated by adjusting net income for items like depreciation and changes in inventory. A company’s OCF is an important metric in determining whether it can generate cash flow without requiring external financing. The timeliness and frequency of cash flows is important as well, in that a company ideally produces consistent and favorable OCF. Continue reading...

What is active management?

What is active management?

Active management is the practice of attempting to outperform the market with selection and timing. Active management is a thoughtful and time-consuming approach to investing and is the opposite of Passive management. Active managers seek to outperform the benchmarks for their portfolio by researching and selecting stocks and other assets based on strategies and analysis methods thought to be superior. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage Refinancing?

Refinancing a mortgage means to get a new mortgage agreement with a different interest rate. If the prevailing interest rate environment has changed, or if a person’s credit history has strengthened since signing the original mortgage agreement, a homeowner might benefit from refinancing their mortgage with a new arrangement. The bank or lending institution would effectively pay off the first mortgage with the new one, and give the client a different interest rate or mortgage term (length) or monthly payment amount. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Pension Plan After I Retire?

Usually such withdrawals will be in the form of income payments, but there may be other options. If the plan administrator allows it, you can make non-recurring (one-time) withdrawals from a pension fund. This is usually not allowed, however. The regular qualified plan distribution rules will apply as far as the IRS is concerned, and they may charge a 10% penalty if the withdrawals are taken before age 59½. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life (also known as a Life Annuity), or a lump-sum payment. Continue reading...

What is the Investment Advisor Registration Depository (IARD)?

The IARD system is maintained by FINRA, and keeps track of all adviser registrations, which states they are licensed to work in, all licenses they hold, and any customer complaints. It simplified the registration requirements of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) was established in 2001 to streamline the registration requirements of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. The act required that all advisers register with the SEC and the states in which they practice. Continue reading...

Bitcoin’s Source Code, Part 2: What Does It Mean That Bitcoin Is Open-Source?

Bitcoin’s Source Code, Part 2: What Does It Mean That Bitcoin Is Open-Source?

Open-source software code can be viewed and changed by anyone, but it actually works in the favor of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s source code was uploaded by Satoshi Nakamoto to a code-sharing site called Sourceforge, which enabled anyone to download, use, and modify the code as they saw fit. In fact, he encouraged the community to do so. The fascinating thing about the design of Bitcoin and many other open-source software is that they will work, and will continue to exist, without anyone owning the rights to the code. In most people’s concept of ownership and responsibility, the owner is responsible for maintaining something, for protecting it from attacks, manipulation, vandalism, fraud, etc, and is also responsible for making sure that it is safe for other people to use. Continue reading...