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What is standard deviation?

Standard Deviation is a measurement of how far from the average (mean) the majority of a data set lies. Standard Deviation is a measure of variability, and it is on a different scale for each data set being measured; there is no “standard” standard deviation. It is possible to normalize it for comparison to other data sets using measurements like r-squared and the sharpe ratio. The number arrived at when computing standard deviation is going to reveal the distance, in terms of one of the quantifiable variables being observed, from the average, in either a positive or negative direction, within which 68% of the data set falls. Continue reading...

What is a Yield Curve?

A yield curve is an illustration of the current duration-to-yield relationship for bonds of the same credit rating but different durations. As a general rule, the longer the duration of the loan, the more risk you take on (since you don't know what might happen with that corporation in the future), and therefore, you demand a higher reward (i.e., higher coupon). The yield curve for any bond (not just the US Treasury Bonds) changes daily based on many economic and market factors. Continue reading...

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Bonds?

There will always be more to learn in the investment world: innovation is always happening and the products will change along with market conditions. Bonds are no exception. The bond market is huge — actually larger than the stock market, if you can believe that — and there are literally hundreds of economic, market, and tax-related factors which influence the decisions of which bonds to buy. You must look at the yield curve, duration, rating of the issuer, your own cash flow needs, expected changes in the interest rate environment, changes in the overall health of the economy, tax implications, account in which you're buying bonds, and so forth. Therefore, structuring fixed income accounts is a task which is perhaps better left to professional advisors. Continue reading...

What is Cash Available for Distribution?

Cash Available for Distribution is a term used in REITs and sometimes corporate accounting for the balance of earnings left over after expenses have been paid. After expenses have been paid and a reserve fund amount has been set aside for taxes and other recurring expenditures, there may be enough earnings left over to be designated as Cash Available for Distribution (CAD). It might also be called Funds Available for Distribution (FAD). Continue reading...

What is the Law of Supply?

All other things being equal, if the price of a good increases, the supply of that good will increase, and this is known as the Law of Supply. The Supply Curve is plotted on a graph with a y-axis being price and an x-axis being quantity. The relationship is positive and the line will climb up to the right. The is the opposite direction of the Demand Curve, and the place where the two intersect is considered to be the point of market equilibrium. The curves can be shifted by variables not present on the graph, such as changes in levels of income and other factors, but the slopes will remain the same, theoretically. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted EBITDA?

Basically synonymous with Normalized EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP method of making earnings valuations a little more standardized between companies. Adjusted Earnings is a valuation that has many moving parts in the form of the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that might be included there, in addition to the non-GAAP nature of the methods. EBITDA removes all of those moving parts and looks at the Earnings before any of the other arithmetic interferes, hence the name Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Continue reading...

What is the Law of Demand?

The Law of Demand states that as prices increase, demand will decrease, and vice versa. That is to say, price and quantity are inversely related. There are some things which have an inelastic demand, meaning the quantity demanded will remain constant no matter the price. Medicine is a good example. Vices to which people are addicted are as well, so some degree, and tobacco stocks are considered fairly safe and defensive in bad economic times. Continue reading...

How to use the Accumulation/Distribution in trading

The Accumulation/Distribution Indicator (originally called the Cumulative Money Flow Line) tracks cash flow into or out of a security and correlates the cash flow changes to changes in the security price. By following the trading volume into or out of a security, it establishes the degree of correlation between this trading volume and the price of the security. Accumulation/distribution is designed to reveal divergences in price trends (specifically between stock price and trading volume). These divergences indicate the degree to which a security may be overbought or oversold at a given time. Continue reading...

What are Periodic Distributions from a 401(k)?

Periodic distribution is a planned intermittent payment of cash from a 401(k). If you choose to have your money distributed periodically, you will usually have a choice between monthly, quarterly, or even annual payments. Money distributed periodically is not subject to the same 20% withholding the lump-sum payment is. The periodic payments are treated as wages, and, because plan participants taking these payments in retirement may find it easy to calculate what their income will be for the year, they can instead plan for their actual tax bracket, or opt-out of withholding if they prefer. Continue reading...

How Does Social Security Work?

Social Security uses mandatory payroll taxes to grow trust funds that are used to pay income to retirees and other qualifying persons. Any surplus that is collected in a given year and not paid out is used to purchase Treasury Bonds, which pay a guaranteed rate of interest to the trusts and allows the government to use this surplus money in the meantime. When you receive your paycheck, you’ll see a deduction for FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), which is a “combined payroll tax” for both Social Security and Medicare. Continue reading...

How Much Does (and Will) Social Security Pay?

Social Security uses a formula that applies a factor to your average monthly income from the 35 years in which you earned the most. The benefit will be calculated for your Normal Retirement Age (67 for most people today), and you should receive statements in the mail keeping you updated on your projected or actual Social Security Retirement Benefits. Every year, you should get a statement from the Social Security Administration that provides you with exact numbers. The amount depends on the age at which you retire, and the contributions you made to Social Security over the years. The formula uses the 35 years in which you earned the most, and divides it by the total number of months in 35 years, which is 420, which leads to your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). Continue reading...

Can I Start Collecting My Social Security Benefits If I’m Still Working?

Yes, you can start receiving social security benefits before you actually stop working, and your benefit amount will not be affected if you have attained normal retirement age, or NRA, which is determined based on the year of your birth. NRA is 67 for most people today. If you start to take benefits while working and before the normal retirement age, your benefit will be reduced. But there are a few caveats to consider if you start to receive the benefits before your normal retirement age. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution from my Pension Plan?

Regular pension payments are periodic distributions. Yes. This will be the default option on pension arrangements, unless companies are trying to settle with pensioners for lump-sum amounts that will lessen the plan’s long term liability. The options for periodic distributions will always be for periods less than or up to a year in length. Periodic distributions can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. It may not be enough to sustain your lifestyle completely, but it will give you a sense of financial security and prohibit overspending in a way that the lump-sum distribution does not. Continue reading...

What Is a Bell Curve?

A bell curve, often referred to as a normal distribution, is a fundamental concept in statistics that plays a crucial role in various fields, including finance. This graphical representation of data is characterized by its symmetrical, bell-shaped curve. In this article, we'll delve into what a bell curve is, how it's used in finance, and its limitations. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution From My Cash-Balance Plan?

Periodic distributions are one of the main ways that former employees enjoy the benefits of a Cash Balance plan. Yes, you can take periodic distributions from your cash-balance plan. As opposed to the other option (lump-sum distribution), opting for the periodic distribution can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. This Life Annuity option is mandated by law to be an option to participants of a cash balance plan. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Lump-Sum Distribution From My Pension Plan?

There is no guaranteed option to make lump-sum distributions from pension plans. You may be able to take a lump-sum distribution, but the option is not always available. Most employers are eager to get another participant (liability) off the books. This kind of settlement is a lot like a debt settlement, in fact, that’s exactly what it is to the plan fund. As long as you are part of the plan, you represent an unknown quantity of liability, because they have to keep paying your benefits, and possibly spousal benefits for as long as either of you shall live. This is an option you may have upon reaching retirement, if the plan offers it to you. Continue reading...

How Does My Retirement Age Impact My Social Security Benefits?

Social Security benefits are calculated using the Normal Retirement Age (NRA), which is 67 for people born after 1960. If you take benefits early, your payment will be reduced by as much as 30% if taken at age 62. After NRA, your benefit will be increased by 8% for every year you defer benefits. You cannot defer taking Social Security past age 70. As a rule of thumb, the closer to age 70 you retire, the higher your Social Security benefits will be. Of course, there are some specific guidelines. Everyone has an NRA (Normal Retirement Age), which determines the age at which you can receive your full Social Security benefits. Continue reading...

How are Social Security Benefits Computed?

Social Security retirement benefits are computed by finding the average monthly income of a worker during the highest-earning 35 years of employment, and then it plugs that amount into a formula for to determine their full benefit at Normal Retirement Age (NRA). A person may then choose to take benefits before or after NRA, with applicable reductions or additions. There are different equations for spousal benefits, survivor’s benefits, and maximum family benefits. Continue reading...

What is 'Pro Forma'?

Pro Forma is a term used frequently in the context of a company’s financial statement, and refers to the manner in which figures are presented. In Latin the term “Pro Forma” means “as a matter of form,” and in the case of a financial statement refers to how figures are presented either in present form or as projections. For publicly traded corporations, statements prepared with the pro forma method are generally made ready ahead of a planned transaction such as an acquisition, merger, or some change in corporate structure based on new investment or capital changes. Continue reading...

What is Normal Distribution? Understanding Its Formula and Real-world Examples

The normal distribution is a cornerstone concept in statistics and probability, deeply entrenched in the financial analysis. It's the bedrock upon which risk assessment, performance metrics, and predictive models are built. Imagine a continuous curve that echoes the probabilities of a range of outcomes—it's the bell-shaped figure that first comes to mind, exemplifying the Normal Distribution. Continue reading...