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What is GDP?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the production of all industries within a country, to get a picture of how the national economy is doing. GDP is one of the most important number to economists, and it is calculated every quarter. Growth for the current quarter compared to the previous quarter is a good sign. Two consecutive quarters of decline in GDP are an indication of a recession, but it is not the only metric used to make that call. Continue reading...

What is a bear market?

Bear markets are loosely defined as periods when markets experience declines in magnitude of 20% or more. More specifically, bear markets are a period in which a major index like the S&P 500, for example, declines by 20% or more, with this decline sustained for a period over two months or so. Consequently, many investors become “bearish” – they lose confidence in the market, sell off their securities they do not believe will recover soon, and sit on the sidelines. There have been 25 bear markets since 1929, for an average of one every 3.4 years. Continue reading...

What is Demand?

Demand is a measure of consumer’s desire to purchase goods and services. High demand for a product typically puts upward pressure on price, and vice versa. Demand is a key metric in reading price trends and a company’s ability to set price point. Weaker demand on a global macro level implies that countries are investing less, developing less, and therefore focused less on growth. Sustained downtrends in demand will generally lead to recessionary conditions. Often times, central banks will try to step-in and stoke demand by lowering the cost of money (interest rates). Continue reading...

What are Industrials Stocks?

Industrials stocks include companies that are in the business of construction and manufacturing. Companies within the sector are those that play a role in infrastructure buildout and development, such as industrial machinery, tools, heavy equipment, engineering, and even aerospace and defense. Industrials companies are cyclicals, meaning they benefit the most during periods of economic expansion and are hurt during recessions. Continue reading...

What is Deflation?

Deflation is an economic term used to describe a trend of broad-based price declines for goods and services. Deflation is generally considered a big negative in the realm of economics. If a country is experiencing deflation, it is usually because demand for goods has fallen substantially, pushing prices down. It can also be tied to falling investment and government spending, both factors that signal weak demand in an economy. Continue reading...

What are Consumer Staples Stocks?

Consumer Staples are generally defined as companies that sell goods with inelastic demand, meaning that economic conditions generally don’t impact a consumer’s need for the product. They are also referred to as ‘non-cyclical,’ meaning that demand should not significantly waver even if the economy enters a recession. Because the earnings of consumer staples stocks is generally less volatile, they have historically outperformed other stocks during prolonged market downturns. Continue reading...

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is basically an annuity paid for with home equity. In a reverse mortgage, instead of paying to for your home, you’re getting paid for your home. It is considered a loan, but it does not have to be repaid, except by the proceeds from selling the home. Older Americans who need the income and aren’t concerned about their heirs getting their house might apply for a reverse mortgage. It is also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Continue reading...

What are Accounts Receivable?

Accounts Receivable is part of the Assets on a Balance Sheet, and it details the money due to the company from its customers or debtors in the near future. Accounts Receivable will include money which should be received by the company from those who owe it. This appears in the Current Assets section of the Balance Sheet. The money should be receivable within the next 30 or 90 days, generally. This might be rent payments or other bills which are paid regularly or after the goods or services have been rendered. An account receivable also might include interest due. Continue reading...

What are Consumer Discretionary Stocks?

Consumer Discretionary companies are those that sell ‘non-essential’ items, such as clothing retailers, media and entertainment, luxury goods, auto makers, and so on. Consumer discretionary companies tend to sell goods with elastic demand, meaning that demand goes up as economic conditions are good and falls when conditions are slowing or recessionary. Consumer discretionary companies are also categorically referred to as ‘cyclicals.’ Consumer discretionary stocks can also include companies in the service industry, like hotels and restaurants. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable Financing?

Financing companies can step in and take over the accounts receivables of a company who no longer wants to wait to be paid on their receivables. Financing companies, who are sometimes called Factoring Companies or Factors, will pay about 75% of the amount due to companies who want to offload or outsource their Receivables. The factoring company will then take over the task of collections, and will transfer most of the money received back to the original company, after their fees have been deducted from the proceeds. 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 Receivables Turnover Ratio?

Receivables Turnover Ratio gives a snapshot of how well a company does by extending credit. The ratio is computed by putting the number of credit sales over the total amount of outstanding receivables. If a company is not able to efficiently collect on credit that it has extended to its customers or debtors, it will have a low Receivables Turnover Ratio. The top number is the amount of new receivable accounts opened during a period, and the lower number is the total number of outstanding receivable accounts. A much larger bottom number suggests that they are not able to efficiently collect on and close their receivables. Continue reading...

What is a Dividends Received Deduction?

A Dividends Received Deduction (DRD) is a tax deduction available to corporations when they are paid dividends from another corporation. This is a provision to reduce the number of times an amount of earnings can be taxed: company A, which is paying the dividend, will have already been taxed on it, and the shareholders of company B will be taxed as well, so the Dividends Received Deduction alleviates taxes at the intermediary stage when Company B receives it. Continue reading...

What is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage?

The main type of reverse mortgage that people get today is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, backed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These reverse mortgages are available to people age 62 or older who are interested in leveraging their home equity to gain liquidity, either in the form of a lump sum, monthly payments, or other arrangement. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a reverse mortgage available to homeowners age 62 or older, insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). 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...

How Often Can I Contribute to My 401(k)?

Generally 401(k) contributions will be automatically deducted from payroll. Contributions to a 401(k) account are generally taken out of compensation during payroll, before taxes are withheld. For example, if you receive monthly paychecks, the contributions into your 401(k) occur monthly. Some employers may be more flexible and allow employees to make deposits when it is convenient, or to adjust their contributions at year-end, but larger employers will probably not have time for that, unless it is built into the plan interface in a way that makes it convenient for the payroll department at the sponsoring place of employment. Remember, any contributions must be within the limits allowed by the plan. Excess contributions must be corrected promptly. Continue reading...

What are market indicators?

Market indicators are quantitative tools for the analysis of market information, which may hint or confirm that a trend or reversal is about to happen (leading indicator) or has begun (lagging indicator). Indicators are technical analysis algorithms which give investors signals that may be used as the guidelines for trading. Indicators might be called oscillators or have various other proper names, since some of them are quite well-known, but there are general conventions or instructions for how to use an indicator, how it can be tweaked to suit the scope of your analysis, and what is considered a trade signal. 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 are Fibonacci Clusters?

Fibonacci lines, retracements, and extensions are used by chartists to identify possible future support and resistance levels, as well as areas where there may be reversals. Investors can use this information to put hedges or speculative bets in place, if they believe that, like many naturally occurring systems in nature, the market behavior will exhibit some fractal-like forms that can be measured with Fibonacci sequence numbers and the Golden Ratio. Continue reading...

What is Accrued Revenue?

Revenue that has not yet been received for goods or services already rendered may be documented as Accrued Revenue. Accrual accounting allows a business to put the payments due to it for good and services already rendered into the Assets column of its books. If no invoice or payment plan is established, it sits in the Accrued Revenue line; if so, the item goes into Accounts Receivable. Accrual accounting is different than cash accounting in this regard: cash accounting will only make an entry on the books when cash or goods are exchanged. Accrual accounting is actually mandatory for publicly traded companies with revenues over $5 million who are based in the US, per SEC regulations. Continue reading...