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What is a call time spread?

A time spread using call options is a strategy that buys and sells the same number of options with the same strike prices, but different expirations. Time spreads are sometimes called calendar spreads or horizontal spreads. They make money based on the time decay of the options being shorted. Two calls are used: one is shorted and one is purchased, and both have the same strike price and same underlying security. Continue reading...

What is currency in circulation?

Currency in circulation tends to be defined as the currency held by commercial banks, and currency with the public, without including long-term deposits or investments. As much as 2/3rd of Currency in Circulation is held outside of the borders of the US, and is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion as of 2016. Currency in Circulation is one part of what’s known as the money supply. Money supply is divided into four levels: M0, M1, M2, and M3. Some might define currency in circulation as the larger part of M0, which is the money base, constituted by the currency held in commercial banking institutions and excluding central bank reserves / Federal funds. This definition disregards the Currency with Public, which is included in other definitions and is part of M1. Continue reading...

What is a Basis Point?

When percentages being used to describe a security are very small, basis points are often used to describe the numbers. A Basis Point (bp) is 1/100th of a percent, so 1% = 100 bps. This metric is used when discussing financial instruments for which very small changes in percentages can make a difference. For example, rates on single premium immediate annuities change weekly, and generally only by a few basis points. These small changes can make a difference competitively week-to-week, because a few basis points can translate to thousands of dollars of income over time. Other places where basis points are used include: advisory and management fees, moves in indexes and securities, bonds, and so on. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted Cost Basis?

Adjusted Cost Basis (ABC) is the value of an item for tax purposes, adjusted for depreciation and expenditures. Sometimes abbreviated ABC, adjusted cost basis is the valuation of an item for tax purposes; that is, if it is to be bought or sold, what gains or losses would be assigned to it? Some business assets are depreciated on a set schedule, such as equipment. For equipment sold or taken as part of an acquisition a few years after it was purchased, the depreciation factor would reduce the value of the item for tax purposes by perhaps as much as 20% per year. If a company spent significant amounts of money improving a facility, the cost basis of the facility would go up by that amount. Continue reading...

What is Time Value of Money?

The Time Value of Money is a theme for discourse and calculations related to the effect of interest on money over time, and the interrelation between Present Value and Future Value. The Time in the equation of Rate of Return x Time x Present Value = Future Value has a value and an effect on the Future Value (or the Present Value depending on what you're solving for). The Time Value of Money is, at it's simplest, something which nearly everyone has seen but hasn't heard called by that name: turn this amount of money into that amount of money by letting it grow in the market for a length of time. Continue reading...

What is a Money Market?

Money markets are very short duration debt securities, essentially the equivalent of cash traded between banks and offered to investors at a very nominal interest rate. Money market securities are essentially IOUs issued by governments, financial institutions and large corporations, and they’re traded between each other in very high denominations. Retail investors can gain access to money markets via money market funds, which generally pay very low interest rates. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

What is the difference between active and passive money management?

The debate on whether active or passive management is better for investors has polarized many advisors and theorists for years. There are two schools of thought when it comes to long-term investing. One basically states that you should determine a proper allocation of asset classes for yourself, buy index funds to reflect each particular asset class, and possibly rebalance the portfolio periodically. This basically means “set it and forget it,” and the investor must be willing to ignore fluctuations in the markets and maintain a faith in an Efficient Market. Continue reading...

What is a bear straddle?

A Bear Straddle is another name for a short straddle, in which the investor writes (goes short) on both a call and a put, for the same strike price and expiration, on the same underlying stock. A short straddle can be called a bearish position because the investor believes that the underlying will basically hibernate until expiration. As long as the price of the underlying remains close to the strike price, the investor can make a profit, with the maximum profit being the premium collected from the sale of the options which have expired worthless. Continue reading...

What does out of the money (OTM) mean?

If an option on an underlying security does not have a strike price giving the option holder the ability to exercise the option for a profit (based on the current market price of the underlying security) that option is “Out of The Money.” An option is Out Of The Money (OTM) if it isn’t profitable for the option holder to exercise it. Options have a strike price that contractually defines the amount which will be paid for the underlying security if the option is exercised. Continue reading...

What is an Interest Rate?

An interest rate is a simple financial principle that’s been around for centuries, whereby a borrower has to pay for money borrowed. The interest rate is agreed to between the lender and the borrower, and there may be provisions under which the rate could change over the course of  a loan. In simple terms, an interest rate is the cost of money. 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 a strangle?

A strangle is an options strategy which is profitable if the price of the underlying security swings either up or down because the investor has purchased a call and a put just out of the money on either side of the current price of the underlying. To execute a strangle an investor chooses an underlying security which he or she anticipates will experience some price volatility around a given expiration date for options, but is not sure which way it will go, so a call and a put are both purchased. Continue reading...

How Many Dollars do We Have in Circulation?

According to the Federal Reserve, there are over 1.7 trillion U.S. Dollars in circulation. This number has been drastically increasing throughout the last few years, mostly due to programs such as Quantitative Easing. As of 2016, QE programs have ended and the Fed's balance sheet is shrinking, but M2 money supply still remains at elevated levels. What is the Size of our National Debt? What is Currency in Circulation? Continue reading...

What is Hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is when a rate of inflation grows exponentially, and a currency is rapidly devalued. Hyperinflation occurs in the midst of dire economic circumstances. This is usually partially due to the piling on of downward price pressure in which newly printed currency rapidly floods the market as the government attempts to cover debt obligations. Sometimes this stems from situations where the government is having trouble receiving adequate taxes from the population. Continue reading...

Learn Options Trading

Options are contracts used by investors to take a speculative position – or a hedge – based on expected future price movements of the underlying securities. An option is a contract which can be exercised if the price of an underlying security moves favorably. An option will be written or sold short by one investor and bought by another. It will name the strike price at which the security can be bought or sold before the expiration of the contract. Continue reading...

What does FDIC Insured mean?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a government entity created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and its purpose is to protect savers from losing their deposits in banking institutions if the bank becomes insolvent. FDIC insurance only covers certain types of assets, up to certain limits for each person, and only at member banks. FDIC insurance will “make whole” any deposit amount up to $250,000 per person if the banking institution that held the funds declares insolvency. Most banks are members of the FDIC program, which was established by the Federal government in the 1930s. Continue reading...

What is Intrinsic Value?

Intrinsic Value is the value of a security which is “built into it.” Both options and stocks have it, but it is different for each. Options and stocks have intrinsic value. For options, the intrinsic value is easy to compute, if the option is in-the-money. It is the difference between the strike price of the option and the market price of the underlying security. If an option is out-of-the-money it has no intrinsic value. 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 Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016. Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically. As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: Continue reading...