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What is Bad Debt?

Lending companies or other companies with Receivables may characterize certain unpaid accounts as Bad Debt and write off the losses. Bad debt is debt that is on the books and is in default, meaning payment has not been made on it in a long while. Creditors, banks, and companies may periodically get bad debt off of their accounting books by moving it out of Receivables. Most companies have attempted to calculate their exposure to default risk and bad debt, and have allocated amounts into accounts such as Allowance for Doubtful Accounts (ADA). It can be passed off to debt collection agencies, but most of the debt will never be recouped. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Rate Lock?

Mortgages take a while to process, but a broker or bank can lock in a rate for themselves or their clients. Locking-in rates costs money somewhere along the line, and the longer the rate is locked in, the more it costs. 60 days is generally the longest time frame you will see a rate locked in, due to the cost associated with that risk. Mortgage rates can be locked in for a period of time long enough to underwrite the loan. This might be for a period as short as 20 days or as long as 60 days. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Broker?

Mortgage brokers act as agents for consumers looking for the best deal possible on a home mortgage loan. Lenders at banks may not be able to find the most competitive interest rates out there. Mortgage brokers can help consumers become more educated about the various kinds of loans out there, some of which are subsidized by the government. Mortgage brokers find and place mortgage loans with consumers who need it to buy a house. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable for Accounting?

Also simply called Receivables, the Accounts Receivable line on a General Ledger will contain the amounts owed to the company which are due to be received in the near future. If a company offers financing for the items it sells, or it has regular payments coming in for things such as rent, leases, monthly subscription or membership fees, and so on, they will have substantial numbers in their accounts receivable. Continue reading...

What is an Accounts Payable Subsidiary Ledger?

Accounts payable may have enough items within it to require its own department in the company, or just a subsidiary ledger to supplement the General Ledger of the company. A subsidiary ledger gives full details of a line-item in the general ledger, especially when it is too detailed to include in the general ledger. The Accounts Payable Subsidiary Ledger will contain all of the transaction details for each credit and debit in the Payables history from a specific period. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable Subsidiary Ledger?

The Accounts Receivable Subsidiary Ledger will be a separate ledger from a company’s General Ledger, where all of the information pertaining to all Accounts Receivable will be reported. Receivables may have only a line-item on the General Ledger of a company, but may have an entire department dedicated to servicing the receivable accounts. Because there may be a large amount of information in just the Receivables sub-account, there is often a Subsidiary Ledger dedicated to the minutia of all the Accounts Receivable business. Continue reading...

What is a Bond Ladder?

A bond ladder is a portfolio of bonds that have different maturities, that may range from months to years in difference. A bond ladder is designed to reduce interest rate risk and create predictable income streams. An investor will build a bond ladder often in an effort to reduce interest rate risk and also to create predictable income streams, where coupon payments happen at different times and principal is also returned in various intervals. Continue reading...

What is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit is a provided by a bank or financial institution on behalf of a borrower or buyer, to ensure the seller that payments will be made on time and in full. In the event that the buyer is unable to make payment on the purchase, the bank will have to step-in to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase. Letters of credit are often used in international transactions to guarantee that payment will be received. Continue reading...

What is Account Reconcilement?

Account reconcilement is the act of comparing and affirming multiple records of the same financial information. To “reconcile the books” is to compare different records of the same accounts to ensure that they match up. One might reconcile all the different record-keeping for the same account, such as copies of checks and receipts, to be sure that they add up to the balance and ledger shown on a bank account statement. It could be that the recipient of a check has not yet cashed it, and it is important to keep all records “synced” with one another. Continue reading...

What is a Takeover?

A takeover is an acquisition done through the procurement of enough equity interest to govern a company from the board of directors. Takeovers can be hostile or friendly, and may involve a tender offer from the acquiring company who seeks to buy a large block of shares. Takeover carries a negative connotation, since in peaceful circumstances this is usually called an acquisition. An acquiring corporation will offer to buy enough shares to have a controlling interest in the company in what is called a tender offer. Shareholders of the target company will have a set amount of time to decide whether they would like to take the offer, which is normally to buy the shares at a premium over the market price. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. Continue reading...

What is the Ladder Strategy for Structuring My Bond Portfolio?

The ladder provides the bondholder with a degree of freedom and some liquidity to take part in possibly improved interest rates in the future. The ladder strategy distributes your funds uniformly among bonds with various durations. For example, if you have $10,000, you buy one bond with a duration of one year, one bond with a duration of two years, etc. If the interest rates go up when the shorter-duration bonds expire, you will be able to reinvest this money with a higher coupon rate (of course, keep in mind that your longer-duration bonds would have fallen in price). Continue reading...

What is a Hostile Takeover?

A hostile takeover may not be as intense as it sounds, but it may not be pleasant for all those involved. It is an acquisition in which the controlling interest of shares in one company has come under the direction of another company, and the newly controlling company has decided to integrate the target company into their operations, which often results in cutting redundant jobs and making other decisions that the target company would probably not have made on its own. 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 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 Discount Rate?

The Federal Discount Rate is the interest rate that the Federal Reserve charges banks for borrowing money. This is usually done overnight to satisfy reserve requirements on short notice. It is different than the Federal Funds Rate, which is the rate that banks charge each other. The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks determine their Federal Discount Rate in board meetings every 14 days. It is the interest that will be charged to member banks to borrow directly from the Fed, which they do at times in order to make sure they have enough capital reserves to satisfy regulations. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)?

The FERS includes the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and other benefits available to employees of the federal government. The eligible features of FERS may be different for the employees of different branches and agencies of the government. Civilian and military personnel are included in FERS. FERS is essentially comprised of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is a 401(k)-type plan for federal employees, and, in most cases, a Federal employee retirement annuity. The Thrift Savings plan has lower fees than most 401(k)s and offers several kinds of index funds to employees. Continue reading...

What is a Buyback?

When a company decides to use excess cash to purchase its own shares from the market, it is called a buyback or “share repurchase program.” There are only so many things a company can do with earnings in excess of their projections; among these are issuing a dividend, paying off debts, expanding, acquiring another company, or buying back shares of its own stock. Buybacks are also known as Stock Repurchase Agreements. There may be guidelines in state law or the company’s contracts or buy laws that determine what options they have and how many shares can be repurchased. Continue reading...

What are Federal Reserve Regulations?

The Fed has been commissioned with upholding the directive of the Federal Reserve Act. The Fed is technically an independent institution from the US Government, even though it works hand-in-hand with the Treasury Department on monetary policy issues. It functions partially as a self-regulatory organization for the banking industry, and the Regulations, which are named with letters of the alphabet, are meant to protect consumers, member banks, and the economy as a whole. The leadership of the Fed is comprised of both government appointees and private sector banking leaders. 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...