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Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What are “Dark Pools” of Money?

Large institutional investors sometimes trade on “Electronic Trading Crossing Networks," which allow them to conduct trades without publicly exposing them. They are used by financial institutions to move large blocks of shares without public investors even knowing about such transactions. Such examples of networks are “Liquidnet,” “Pipeline,” “SIGMA X,” and many others. It might be difficult to fathom the size of the transactions conducted over these networks, but the ownership of dark pools involves almost every institutional trading house. This is a huge business and regulators are carefully looking into their activities. Continue reading...

What is the Wilshire 5000 Index?

The Wilshire 5000 is about as broad as an index gets. There are over 9,000 companies traded on all of the U.S. equity markets, and the Wilshire 5000 tries to capture a broad sense for how they are performing. Though the index says 5000, there are actually just under 7,000 listed stocks in the index. It is a cap-weighted index meaning bigger stocks have more influence, and vice versa. It can be considered the broadest index of all U.S. equity markets. Continue reading...

What is a foreign institutional investor?

Institutional investors are corporations, banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other forms of pooled capital which act as one entity to engage in securities transactions in the best interest of the constituents or company that they represent. Foreign Institutional Investors are those whose company is based in another country. Investments made on behalf of foreign companies, foreign financial institutions, and foreign funds (such as the foreign equivalent of hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds) are foreign institutional investments. There are usually reporting requirements for both the foreign government for the county in which the interests are held and for the domestic government of the institutional investor. Continue reading...

How do I get IPO shares?

Participating in an IPO is generally limited to institutional investors. However, if you are a high net worth client at a brokerage firm that has access to the IPO, you may be able to purchase some shares. First, you need to know that investing in IPOs is considered speculative and only suitable for experienced investors will substantial assets. If you meet the criteria that your brokerage has for allowing IPO trading, which may include a minimum account balance of $250,000 or so, you may be allowed to submit an Indication of Interest (IOI), which is a document used to request shares in the IPO. Continue reading...

What is the Bond Market?

You might not know it, but the Bond Market is about twice the size of the Stock Market. It’s true; in the US and internationally, the bond market, which includes municipal bonds, corporate bonds, government bonds, v, etc, has almost twice the amount invested in it than the Stock Market. Within these categories, there are many subsets. Bonds are widely used by individual investors as well as corporations and governments. Continue reading...

What do ETFs Invest In?

ETFs invest in a wide array of securities, and which ones depends on the goal, strategy, or index that the ETF is built around. ETFs hold baskets of individual securities, of which investors can purchase an undivided interest in the form of ETF shares. ETFs can be a good option if you want quick diversification, and there is an increasingly diverse selection of ETFs on the market. Many investment companies have issued new ETFs in the last 10 years. One of the biggest issuers is Barclays - one of the largest investment banks in the world — through their ETF brand iShares. Continue reading...

What is Freddie Mac?

Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored company which purchases mortgages from banks and securitizes them for sales to investment banks or individuals. Freddie Mac is not a government organization, but was established by a congressional mandate in the 1970’s. It’s proper name is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC). The company’s purpose is to make mortgage debts into marketable securities by purchasing the mortgage risk and cash flow from banks and dividing into tranches which are sold to or through investment banking institutions. The securitized mortgages are known as Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, or CMO’s. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is to lenders what FDIC insurance is to savers; it protects lending institutions from mortgage defaults. By protecting lenders, the FHA was begun with the intention to stimulate the housing market. The FHA was established in 1934 in an effort to stimulate the construction and purchase of new homes by offering insurance protection to the institutions (banks and mortgage companies) who make mortgage loans. Continue reading...

B+/B1 — credit rating

B+ — S&P / Fitch B1 — Moody’s B+/B1 is within the range of ratings given to High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk bonds. B+/B1 is the 14th rating rating from the top rating of AAA/Aaa in the scales used by the Big Three credit ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. They evaluate the fundamentals of companies, municipal entities, and their bond contracts to determine how much risk of default is present. The limit for the category of Investment Grade bonds is BBB-, and there are a few categories of BB above B. Continue reading...

What is Federal Reserve Credit?

The Federal Reserve extends credit in the form of short-term loans to member banks. Banks avoid taking loans from the Fed if they can, because it is viewed as a sign of instability. The Federal Discount Rate applies to loans taken from what is known as the discount window at the Fed, and it tends to be a higher rate than what is charged between two banks. The Federal Reserve will extend credit only to banking institutions that are members of the Federal Reserve system. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Reserve System?

The Federal Reserve System was established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which created a network of reserve banks that could help to prevent economic meltdowns by serving as a regulator and a source of funds. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks which monitor banks in their jurisdiction and make loans when necessary. The Federal Reserve System is sometimes referred to as one bank, but it is in fact a network of 12 banks with 24 branches, overseen by a Board with members nominated by the US Government. Continue reading...

Can I Decide How My Money is Invested in My Defined Benefit Plan?

Employees have no control over the assets in their Defined Benefit plan. The short and simple answer is: No. The payments you will receive in retirement are calculated according to a pre-determined formula. Your employer is responsible for managing the investments, while you simply receive the agreed-upon payments when they are due to you - assuming all goes as planned. Most pension funds, as they are sometimes called, are invested in very conservative instruments such as long term government bonds and fixed accounts offered by some insurance companies and banking institutions. Continue reading...

What is Bank Credit?

Bank Credit is the amount of loaned capital that an individual or business is capable of getting from a bank at a given time. This amount will be based on a series of evaluative metrics such as the total amount of assets an individual has, home equity, income, liquid net worth, work history, credit rating, and so forth. An individual can only borrow so much at a time, and, using these variables, a banker can essentially estimate how much credit could be extended that a given individual at that time. Continue reading...

What is Investment Banking?

Investment banking activity is different than traditional banking. Investment banks often serve as intermediaries that underwrite a new issue of stock and help to distribute it. They also trade in their own accounts, run hedge funds, and generally invest and speculate in ways that most institutions can’t. Investment banks can assist with new issues of stocks and bonds, purchasing large blocks of them to distribute at a premium. Continue reading...

What is Accommodative Monetary Policy?

Accommodative monetary policy is when a central bank makes it easier for banks and consumers to borrow money by lowering the interbank exchange rate. A central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Bank in the United States, can influence the economy by loosening or tightening the money supply. Loosening the money supply is known as accommodative policy, because it give the businesses and individuals in the country access to a higher degree of liquidity. Continue reading...

What is asset management?

Asset management is a term often reserved for the overseeing of assets on behalf of a business or for wealthy clients with significant and various assets. A financial planner, CPA, or estate attorney who is capable of assisting a client with various types of assets and their optimal arrangement for that client’s goals can be said to be in a business of asset management. Tax considerations and cash flows may be a larger consideration with asset management than with investment advising. 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 the Prime Rate

The prime rate is the lowest interest rate that banks will charge on loans at a given time, based on the Federal Funds Rate. Individual banks set their own prime rate, which they may also call their "Reference Rate" or "Base Lending Rate." It is the least they will charge for a loan at a given time, based on the creditworthiness of the customer, and the only clients whose risk of default is low enough to approach the prime rate are very large commercial clients. Continue reading...

What is Credit Counseling?

Credit counselors can negotiate debt management strategies with lenders on behalf of individuals with debt problems, as well as providing behavioral financial habit construction counseling. Debtors seek out credit counselors to find out what their options are to get out of debt and to get some coaching during the process. Credit counselors can be certified through several accredited institutions who are overseen by the Department of Justice in the United States, and they may be part of a non-profit organization, lending institution, or independent financial practice. Continue reading...

What is a Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI)?

When foreigners purchase shares of domestic companies that represent less than 10% of the voting shares in the companies, and the investments are not those of company expansion or market penetration, but rather to add diversification to the foreigners’ investment portfolios, it is known as Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI). FPI is the passive investing that foreigners do in a domestic market. It is separate from investments that companies might make into joint ventures or purchase facilities or acquire controlling interest in a domestic company — all of those are active investing and are usually called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). FPI can be done by individuals or institutional investors. Institutional investors might run a mutual fund or pension fund in another country. Continue reading...