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What are futures contracts?

What are futures contracts?

Futures contracts constitute a binding agreement to trade a commodity, share, or instrument at a future date at an agreed-upon price. They are auctioned on regulated futures exchanges. Futures contracts are used primarily to deal with agricultural assets and natural resources but have come into use for anything that can be commoditized, including financial instruments and technological resources. Continue reading...

What is index investing?

What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What are futures markets?

What are futures markets?

Futures markets are the formal exchanges on which futures contracts are bought and sold for commodities, financial products, and interest rates. Futures markets constitute a large part of the financial system and are an attempt by participants to hedge against some of the volatility and risks to which they might be exposed as time passes, especially where contracts await resolution or payment. Futures contracts might be created for financial instruments, commodities, and other derivative interests. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and the Eurex Exchange are large parts of the international network of futures markets and clearing houses. Continue reading...

Who Manages ETFs?

Several large and well-known investment banks and companies are major players in the ETF industry. There are several large investment houses which specialize in managing ETFs such as Barclays, ProShares, Vanguard, and Guggenheim Partners, LLC. ETFs are also managed by investment firms such as Schwab, Credit Suisse, and Eaton Vance. Even New York Life’s Mainstay Investments recently acquired Index IQ. The ETF industry has been growing rapidly in the last 10 years, with more investors choosing to use them, more ETFs on the market, and more investment companies choosing to offer them. Continue reading...

Is there a Benefit to Self-Managing?

An investor may be able to save money in management fees self-managing, but there are also limitations and risks. Perhaps the biggest risk is the role that emotion can play in investing. Even the most skilled professionals are tempted by emotions in the market - big declines like the financial crisis can make one second-guess whether the market has hope of recovering, and big gains can create confidence that leads to less prudent risk-taking. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Manager?

An investment manager’s job is to adhere to the guidelines set forth in a prospectus while directing the decision-making process for a pooled investment company such as a mutual fund. He must remain accountable to the shareholders and observe SEC regulations while attempting to generate the best returns possible. Investment managers direct the flow of assets and trading in an investment account, usually a pooled investment using the funds of various numbers of investors, while seeking to serve the best interests of the investors whom he serves. 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 active money management?

What is active money management?

Active management is when an investor or money manager attempts to outperform an index or benchmark, using tactical strategies. Many economists and financial professionals believe that the markets are efficient. This means that all available financial information has already been built into the prices of securities, and that you cannot outperform the market by making specific selections of stocks, timing the market, reallocating your assets regularly, following the advice of market pundits, or finding the best portfolio managers. Continue reading...

What is the commodity futures trading commission?

What is the commodity futures trading commission?

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent government agency that regulates the futures market. Futures are not considered securities, so the CFTC has jurisdiction over such exchanges while the SEC does not. The CFTC is the regulatory authority for the futures trade. This includes futures on currency, indexes, and stocks. Futures are not technically considered securities, because a security is defined as a contract that depends on the performance of a third party, while futures contracts only depend on two people. Any options that stem from futures are considered securities, however. Continue reading...

What is a Buying Hedge?

Hedging against future price risk was the main reason Futures contracts came into being. If an investor or a business knows that they need to acquire an asset or security at a future date, they might go ahead and agree to a price and have it in writing on a Futures contract. A futures contract means that an item has been sold at a stated price, and only awaits settlement at a future date. This will protect them from the risk that the price will move unfavorably in the future, and it will allow them to balance books and plan a budget with more certainty. Futures contracts are standardized and traded on exchanges. Continue reading...

What are Actively-Managed ETFs?

At their conception, ETFs only tracked indexes, but today there is also demand for actively-managed ETFs. ETFs tend to look a lot like passive index mutual funds, except that they can trade intra-day like stocks, while mutual funds only settle within 24 hours. In the last decade or so, there has been an increasing market for actively-managed ETFs as well. It is somewhat ironic that the popularity of actively-managed mutual funds has decreased while an abundance of actively-managed ETFs has appeared. The popularity of ETFs has grown enough for fund managers to attempt more and more things. Continue reading...

How old should my portfolio manager Be?

How old should my portfolio manager Be?

While we do not doubt that a young advisor can be intelligent and helpful, there is really no substitution for experience and tenure. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to choose a manager who has experienced various market cycles. Younger advisors who have never helped their clients through a recession may not be as humble, prudent, or knowledgeable as ones who have. If you can find an advisor with over 10 years of experience, we would recommend that over an advisor with only 3, all other things being equal. There are advisors and wealth managers with only a few years under their belts but who have learned a lot in a short time. Continue reading...

What is commodity pice risk?

What is commodity pice risk?

Agricultural and mining businesses are exposed to commodity price risk, which is the possibility that the price of the commodity will change unfavorably by the time the commodity is ready to be delivered. They avoid unnecessary risk by using futures contracts, forward contracts, and possibly other derivative instruments. Commodity price risk means that an agricultural or mining business might not be able to predict the revenue that they can generate from the production or extraction of commodities. Continue reading...

What is the CME?

What is the CME?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now known as the CME group, is the largest derivatives exchange in the world, and one of the oldest. It has historically served as a major international exchange for commodities futures and options on those futures, along with the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange, which are now part of the CME Group. The CME Group is now comprised of what used to be several futures exchanges: CME, the CBOT, and the NYMEX. Historically these markets traded in traditional commodities and their futures, and Chicago was the most likely location for such an exchange, being at the hub of the Midwest. Continue reading...

What is a commodity?

What is a commodity?

A commodity is usually a raw material or agricultural good which has an extremely high demand and very little price differentiation between competitors. If a good will not increase or decrease significantly in quality regardless of who brings it to market, and the demand is very high (such as for a good used in the production of many other products) it might be considered a commodity. Examples would be oil, silver, gold, steel and wheat, but a full list would be very extensive. Continue reading...

What does notional value mean?

What does notional value mean?

Notional Value is used in futures, options, and forex markets to describe the total value of the principal of a contract or transaction, especially when either none or only part of that value has actually been exchanged. Notional value is used most often in interest rate swaps and futures contracts, and is "notional" because either no principal changed hands at the beginning of the contract (such as in an interest rate swap), or only a small payment was used to buy a larger position (such as in a futures contract). Continue reading...

What is triple witching?

What is triple witching?

Triple witching hour is when three types of derivatives expire at once, which happens once every quarter in the US. It typically results in irregular or volatile movements in the markets. When stock market index futures, stock market index options and stock options all expire at the same time, the hour before close is called the Triple Witching Hour. This occurs on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December in the United States between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM Eastern time. Continue reading...

What is Form 6781: Gains and Losses from Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 6781 is used to calculate and report gains and losses due from Section 1256 contracts, which covers futures on commodities and indexes, as well as their derivatives, and from straddles, which are options strategies defined under Section 1092. 6781 is used to report positions in futures and options at the end of the year even if no gains or losses were realized through trades. The value of the positions will be marked-to-market at the end of the year, and these will serve to compute the gains and losses for these purposes. Continue reading...