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What is backtesting?

Analytical financial theories and trading strategies can be “backtested” by applying them to historical data. Backtesting is to simulate what it would have been like to use a certain strategy or indicator in the past. Because markets are more complicated than a simple algorithm, such as an assumed future rate of return, it is preferable and somewhat more dramatic to use actual historical data for testing. There is an abundance of historical market data available to those who would like to use it for backtesting a theory, strategy, or indicator. Continue reading...

What is market disequilibrium?

Market Disequilibrium occurs when market and external forces combine to unbalance a market, creating inefficiency in the market in the process. A disequilibrium produces what’s called a “deadweight loss,” “welfare loss,” “excess burden,” or “allocative inefficiency.” As described by efficient market theory, the price fluctuations we see in market behavior are the market trying to find its truly efficient price and quantity – the theoretical point of equilibrium. Investors attempt to locate it using moving averages and other means of technical analysis. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to the “Elliot market waves theory?”

The Elliot Wave theory essentially uncovers larger trends and investor sentiment by smoothing and “zooming out” from market price action. Elliot Waves zoom out on market price action by using larger-interval moving average and smoothing out price information to reveal larger trends. He was one of the first to attempt such a theory, and his foundations may have contributed to the use of Fourier Analysis and Fibonacci Sequences in market analysis. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to fundamental analysis of the markets?

Fundamental analysis has been around for a long time, and will probably always remain relevant. Fundamental Analysis is the oldest and most well-established market theory. Fundamental analysis is to take all the real-world information about a company into account when evaluating securities and to acknowledge that the shares are what they are: partial ownership in a company. It follows that someone should know about the company and its earnings potential. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to the momentum theories?

The momentum theory has many fans for its useful and relatively simple nature. The momentum theory basically states that markets which are moving either up or down for some period of time cannot suddenly reverse their course. Utilizing these strategies means jumping on a freight train, riding it for a short period of time, and jumping off before it stops and reverses direction. It is hard to argue with the this one, but it may be hard to find momentum strong enough for an investor’s taste in certain market environments, which might mean spending too much time on the sidelines, and due to the frequent active trading involved, the investor will incur fees and be susceptible to emotions and media hype. Continue reading...

What is Dow Theory?

Dow Theory is perhaps the longest-standing method of market analysis still used in modern finance. It suggests that markets experience primary trends (which last several years), intermediate trends (which last under a year), and minor trends (which last less than a month). Markets are in an upward trend if an average exceeds certain thresholds, followed by a similar movement from another average. Longer, larger trends are considered more predictive than smaller ones, though correctly reading the primary trend in the main goal. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to the “dow theory?”

The Dow Theory may not always be accurate, but it has been part of the foundation of modern market analysis. The Dow Theory was formulated by the famous economist Charles Dow. What is important is that the Dow Theory concerns itself with the movements of very broad markets, rather than individual stocks. In particular, the Dow Theory, which was named post-mortem and summarized the editorials Dow wrote during his life, focuses on the movement of the Industrials (DJIA) relative to the Transportation index (DJTA) and theorizes that if one moves the other should follow, and if there is discord a reversal is probably coming. Continue reading...

What is a Market Maker?

A market maker is a broker-dealer firm or a registered individual that will hold a certain number of shares of a security in order to facilitate trading. There could be as many as 50 market makers for one particular security, and they compete for customer order flows by displaying buy and sell quotations for a guaranteed number of shares. The market maker spread refers to the difference between the amount a market maker is willing to pay for a security and the amount that the other party is willing to sell it. Continue reading...

What is the Elliott Wave Theory?

Elliot Wave Theory incorporates the natural cycles of nature and waves with market movements in an attempt to explain and predict the historical and future prices of stocks. Penned by Ralph Elliott in the early 20th century, the Elliott Wave Theory attempts to organize the seemingly random behavior of the market into cycles. The theory visualizes a series of waves cycles, each representing a different length of time or magnitude of a trend or cycle. Continue reading...

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...

Is there any merit to technical analysis of the markets?

Securities in the market can be analyzed on technical levels or fundamental ones, and it is generally best to take both into account, despite the fact that some theories dispute the merits of technical analysis. Some might say that fundamental analysis is all that you need to make wise investment decisions, and to some extent that is actually correct: at a minimal level, if all you had were fundamentals, you could make wise investment decisions. That does not mean, however, that all technical analysis is superfluous. Continue reading...

What is asset allocation?

Asset allocation is theoretically the best way to control the return you experience, through diversification and rebalancing. Asset allocation theories provide you with mechanisms to diversify your money among various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, precious metals, etc. The benefit of asset allocation is twofold: first, nobody knows which asset class will perform better at any given time, and second, various asset classes are not entirely correlated or have a negative correlation, which provides a hedge. If one asset class appreciates significantly, the other might not, but, if the allocation is done correctly, this may be exactly what the investor was looking for. Continue reading...

What is the random walk hypothesis?

The Random Walk Hypothesis states that in an efficient market, prices will correlate around the intrinsic value of securities, but there will always be a randomization and unpredictability to it. The Random Walk Hypothesis suggests that technical analysis and the efforts of chartists cannot beat the market over time, because the market will move randomly and unpredictably, and past results cannot predict future returns. Continue reading...

Are the markets efficient?

The concept of an efficient market is more applicable today than it was when it was conceived, a truly efficient market is nearly impossible. The Efficient Market Hypothesis states that random new information will affect the value of securities, and that new information disseminates so quickly among rational investors that it is futile to try to beat the “market portfolio.” Thirty years ago, this was more of a theory than an observable phenomenon, and plenty of inefficiencies in the dissemination of information and the pricing of securities could be pointed out. 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...

What is a market-maker spread?

The difference between the Bid and Ask prices on a stock or other security are known as the Spread. Designated market makers are traders whose job it is to make a market for securities, by offering to buy or sell shares, and thus creating liquidity, often at the same time. Their money is made on the spread. In highly liquid markets, the spread will shrink. So if everyone is buying and selling the same stock one day, there may be virtually no spread between the Bid and the Ask price, and this is seen as efficient. Continue reading...

What are Fibonacci Numbers?

Fibonacci numbers are part of the Fibonacci sequence, where the two previous numbers are added together to calculate the next number in the sequence. The ratio of two Fibonacci numbers is the Golden Ratio, or 1.61803398875, which has been used since ancient times as the perfect proportion in architecture and other design. The Golden Ratio is also known as Phi (pronounced “fee”). Because Fibonacci numbers are found throughout the natural world, they have been integrated into some traders’ strategies for market analysis. Continue reading...

What are Fibonacci Numbers/Lines?

Fibonacci numbers are part of the Fibonacci sequence, where the two previous numbers are added together to calculate the next number in the sequence. The ratio of two Fibonacci numbers is the Golden Ratio, or 1.61803398875, which has been used since ancient times as the perfect proportion in architecture and other design. The Golden Ratio is also known as Phi (pronounced “fee”). Because Fibonacci numbers are found throughout the natural world, they have been integrated into some traders’ strategies for market analysis. Continue reading...

What is divergence analysis?

The analysis of convergence and divergence between indexes and other data seeks to find leading indicators where there is confirmation or non-confirmation of trends. Dow Theory was one of the first examples of such thinking. Charles Dow would watch the movements of Industrials and the Rail and compare the uptrend or downtrend of each. Where trends do not line up (e.g., one is trending downward with lower troughs and the other has “higher lows”) there is “divergence”, and non-confirmation of what was thought to be a trend in one index. Continue reading...

What is a leading indicator?

Leading indicators are economic or price data which have some degree of correlation with a movement in the market or a stock price. Leading indicators tend to happen before the market or price movement occurs. Traders and economists use leading indicators frequently to prepare for what’s next; they are based on theory as well as empirical historical evidence but like all indicators, they do not have a 100% accuracy rate – past performance does not guarantee future results. Continue reading...