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What is the ‘Risk-Free Rate of Return’?

The risk-free rate of return is the rate an investor can get on a risk-free asset at a given time. It is usually the current yield on a 10-year treasury, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and is considered risk-free. The risk-free rate is used in several calculations and considerations in finance, to show what return can be earned in the current market environment without being exposed to any risk. Continue reading...

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

What is the Black-Scholes formula?

The Black-Scholes formula is a formula and market model for explaining or determining the price of European-style options. It was developed in 1973 by two world-renowned economists, Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, and it led to a Nobel Prize in 1997. As opposed to the American-style of options, which can be exercised at any time, European-style options can only be exercised on their expiration date, they are not exposed to dividends, and they have no commission structure to consider. Some are content to use Black-Scholes for quick applications to American-style, but It is not as accurate as it should be. Continue reading...

What are TIPS?

Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) are coupon-paying treasuries issued by the US Government whose principal amount adjusts with inflation. When a consumer buys Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), they experience a few benefits when compared to other investment options. One benefit is that the security is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Another benefit is that the principal amount adjusts automatically for inflation with the Consumer Price Index. Continue reading...

What is market exposure?

Market exposure is the degree to which an investor is participating in the risks and returns of the market as a whole or a particular sector. Exposure can have a positive or negative connotation, but, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Market exposure allows an investor to participate in the potential upside of the market, but can also subject the investor to the inherent risks. Some people save money religiously but are not likely to retire the way they want to because they aren’t willing to let their money be risked in the market. Continue reading...

What is market arbitrage?

Market arbitrage is when investors, particularly institutional investors, find price discrepancies between one exchange and another and exploit the difference for their profit. It has the helpful side-effect of bringing the prices on all exchanges closer together. Arbitrageurs are investors and brokers who bridge the gap between prices in one market and another. The price difference is similar to the bid/ask spread profit created by market makers. If a stock is listed on multiple exchanges, it is said to be cross-listed, and it may present an arbitrage opportunity. Continue reading...

What is Bond Yield?

Bond yield is a measure of the return on investment for bonds, and there several kinds of yield that can be computed. Yield on a bond is the amount of interest that it pays annually, as a percentage of the amount invested — at least, this is the most common type of yield discussed, which is known as Current Yield. If a bond pays quarterly or monthly income to the investor, these payments are totaled up and divided by the amount invested. Continue reading...

What is the security market line?

The Security Market Line (SML) is a visualization of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and shows the theoretical relationship between risk and return between securities and the entire market. The SML is plotted on a graph bound by an x-axis, which represents Beta (volatility above or below the market average), and a y-axis, which represents the rate of return. Beta is a volatility indicator that measures how many changes in price, and by how much, a security experiences over an amount of time. It describes whether the risk associated with a particular security is above or below the average of the market (or a more specific index), where 1 is a correlation with the market, and numbers above or below describe increased or decreased volatility, respectively. Continue reading...

What is a Treasury Note?

Treasury notes are government-issued coupon bonds with maturities between 1 and 10 years. A large secondary market exists for Treasury Notes, and they can be acquired at issue in a competitive bid or a noncompetitive bid auction. They are extremely popular for their marketability and six-month interest payment schedule. They do have interest rate risk, since treasuries issued with higher interest rates will make the ones already issued with lower rates less valuable. Continue reading...

What is Required Rate of Return?

Required Rate of Return is the return that investors will expect to earn on their money, given the risk and costs involved. Required Rate of Return is determined by the market for a particular security or asset at a given time. Issuers of fixed or variable coupon bonds must look at the rates offered by their peer institutions with similar credit ratings. Investors will require a certain rate of return if they are going to invest their money, and this is where the RRR gets its name. The calculations which help an issuer to arrive at the RRR will include the current risk-free rate (10 year treasury bond rate), liquidity, inflation, and so on. Continue reading...

Can You Pay More Than Nominal Value for a Bond?

Yes, and this is part of what’s called the interest rate risk of bonds. If someone purchased a $1,000 bond with a 5% coupon, and a year  later, the company issued new $1,000 bonds with a 4% coupon, in order to buy the 5% coupon bond from the owner, you would  obviously need to pay more than $1,000 (since the new bonds issued by the company have a 4% coupon). What does Nominal Value mean? What Happens to the Price of a Bond After I Buy It? Can You Sell a Bond for Less Than the Price You Paid For It? Continue reading...

What is Risk?

Risk can be defined as exposure to the possibility of loss of an asset. Risk might be used to denote the cause of the potential loss, or the probability of the loss. In finance, it is common to hear about the correlation between risk and return; more risk may yield a higher return, but it also has the potential for more loss. The situation requires that an investor willing to take such a risk must provide the capital to fund the investment which may grow or may fail. Continue reading...

B-/B3 — credit rating

B- — S&P / Fitch B3 — Moody’s In the world of junk bonds, a B3/B- rating is about as low of a rating as most investors will venture to explore. Bonds are rated by independent ratings institutions known as the Big Three: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. Two companies, S&P and Fitch, use the same symbols, and the B- in this example belongs to them. Moody’s has its own system, and the B3 in this example is theirs. Continue reading...

Can You Sell a Bond for Less Than the Price You Paid For It?

Yes, if you sell the bond before its maturity, it’s possible that you would have to sell it at a discount. If you bought a $1,000  bond with a 5% coupon, and a year later, the  company issued new $1,000 bonds with a 6% coupon, you would not be able to sell your bond to someone else for $1,000 (obviously, because they would rather purchase the new bonds for $1,000 which pay more annual interest than your old one). Continue reading...

What is Bond Insurance?

Bond insurance is a contract that protects the issuer and the holder of bonds from the risk that bond payments will not be made. Bond issues from the corporate or municipal world, or from derivative sources as with asset-backed securities and CDOs, come with the risk of default-- that is, that payments will not be made on time. The major credit ratings agencies (CRAs) assign a risk of default to each bond issue with proprietary analysis methods and ratings. Continue reading...

What is the Capital Market Line?

The Capital Market Line is a complex concept, but put simply, it is a calculation meant to give the investor/analyst a range of potential returns for a portfolio, based on the risk free rate and the standard deviation of the portfolio. The Capital Market Line is a part of the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) that solves for expected return at various levels of risk. It takes into consideration a portfolio’s risk assets and the risk-free rate. Continue reading...

What is Bad Credit?

Bad credit implies that an individual or business has a low credit score or rating. Credit histories are reported and kept in publicly accessible databases. FICO (Fair Isaac & Company) is a credit rating institution that gives individuals a credit rating score based on reported credit histories. Scores range from 300-850, generally, but they also issue ratings based on auto loans and credit cards, which are on a scale from 250-900. Continue reading...

What is currency risk?

Countries, investors, and international businesses have to frequently assess currency risk, which is the chance that exchange rates will change unfavorably at inopportune times. An investment in a foreign security or company, or income payments coming from foreign sources, can be at risk for exchange rate changes. If an investor or company has financial interests which are based in another currency, or if the investor engages in Forex trading, currency risk looms over the future value of the holdings, on top of any typical market risk. Continue reading...

What is Systematic Risk?

Systematic risk is the broad risk of fluctuations and downturns in the market as a whole, which it is said cannot be eliminated through diversification. Systematic risk is also known as market risk, which is the exposure of all investors to the broad movements and downturns of the market as a whole. Theoretically it cannot be controlled for through simple diversification, since that would only bring a portfolio closer to the broad market performance, with a Beta closer to 1. Continue reading...

What is Unsystematic Risk?

Unsystematic risk is idiosyncratic or unique risk that does not reflect a direct correlation with the risk present in the market, or systematic risk. Most securities and portfolios experience risk and variations which are not attributable to the market as a whole, and this is known as unsystematic risk. Systematic risk, on the other hand, is the risk borne by all investors in the market, where broad changes in the market cannot be avoided through diversification of a portfolio. Continue reading...