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What is a Junior Security?

Junior Securities come last in the pecking order if a company gets liquidated; common stock shares are the most prevalent example. Junior securities are securities such as common stock which would be the last in order to receive any payout if the company were to go bankrupt. Examples of securities which are senior are Preferred Stock and Bonds; senior securities receive service first in the event of company insolvency. Continue reading...

What Happens When a Company Goes Bankrupt?

There is a hierarchy of which creditors and investors will be serviced first in the event that a company goes bankrupt. When a company goes bankrupt, it is unable to pay back the money that it borrowed. The higher the bond's rating, the less likely that the issuer will go bankrupt. To learn more about bond ratings, see “What are Bond Ratings?” The possibility of bankruptcy is the risk associated with investing in bonds - you can never know for sure if you will get your money back. Typically, bonds with higher coupons are riskier investments (again, the recurring theme of higher returns = higher risks!). For example, if you see a bond with a 30% coupon, there is (obviously) a greatly increased chance that the company will not be able to pay back your loan. Continue reading...

What is Subordinated Debt?

Subordinated Debt is a junior security which will be serviced after the Unsubordinated Debt in the event of a company bankruptcy. Subordinated Debt has been deemed less important than the Unsubordinated Debt that a company has taken on, in terms of what priority it will have for payment in the event of company default. The amount of money and length of term on the loan are considerations when making this distinction. 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 Marketable Securities?

Marketable securities is a term referring to assets / securities that can be converted to cash easily, at least within a year. Examples of marketable securities are stocks, bonds, or CDs you might buy at the bank. What makes an asset a marketable security is its ability to be redeemed for cash quickly at a known market price. What is a Broker-Dealer? What is an Illiquid Security? Continue reading...

What is an Illiquid Security?

An illiquid security is one that cannot easily be sold or exchanged for cash on a timely basis. The lack of ready buyers tends to create a fairly sizable discrepancy between what a seller wants and what a buyer is offering, versus an orderly market where assets change hands at high volumes and therefore have high liquidity. An illiquid security should generally be held only if the investor/owner has a long-time horizon, and therefore can handle the risk of not being able to offload the asset easily. Continue reading...

What is a Security?

A security is a marketable ownership contract which entitles the owner to the right to use the contract as a type of currency backed by a specific asset, which could be partial ownership in a company, a debt (bond), or a derivative interest. Securities are broadly categorized into debt securities (e.g., bonds), equity securities (e.g., stock), and derivatives (e.g., futures, options, etc.). They will generally be issued by a company or government entity and will entitle the owner of the contract the right to trade the ownership interest for value in the open market. Continue reading...

What is Cash-Flow Financing?

Cash flow financing is an alternative method of securing a loan, in which cash flows are the collateral, not assets. In cash flow financing, also known as cash flow loans, a lending institution will base their decisions regarding the size of the loan and the loan repayment schedule on future expected cash flows of the company. The cash flows serve as collateral instead of assets, as in an asset-backed loan. Continue reading...

What are Sector ETFs?

Sector ETFs hold a portfolio of stocks and other securities that represent a specific sector of the market. Sector ETFS are managed portfolios of securities which are representative of a specific industry or market sector. They might passively track a sector index or be actively seeking alpha over the sector benchmark. The word “sector” is a broad term for a grouping of companies in the market, but the word “industry” is sometimes used interchangeably. There are 10 sectors in the S&P 500: healthcare, financials, energy, consumer staples, consumer discretionary, utilities, materials, industrials, information technology, and telecommunications (telecom) services. Continue reading...

Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?

Many people do not realize that their Social Security Benefits may be taxed. If you have a taxable income in retirement above a certain threshold, up to 85% of your social security benefits can be taxed. The calculation for the threshold income actually includes half of your social security benefits. Whether or not you trigger taxation on your benefits will depend on your “combined” income, which is a sum of your adjusted gross income (taxable income, which can include taxable sources such as qualified retirement plans), your nontaxable interest (from Muni bonds in particular, Roth IRAs are excludable), and half of your household Social Security benefits. Continue reading...

What does Equity or Security Mean in the context of Capital Markets?

An equity or security generally refers to an individual position owned within a portfolio. An equity generally signifies some level of ownership in a corporation. When a person has ‘equity in a company,’ it generally means they own some portion of it and have a claim on the company’s value. An equity is another way of referring to a stock, which also represents a shareholder’s stake in a company. A security is a broader term, which refers to an instrument of ownership. Stocks are considered securities, but fixed income or debt holdings can also be labeled securities within a portfolio. 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...

When Will Social Security Go Bankrupt?

Most estimates project that the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted by 2037. The system could still function at 70% of their full obligations by transferring cash flow directly from social security taxes to the retired beneficiaries, which most people don’t realize when they spread the news that the system is tanking. Adjustments to the system and interest rates could change how this plays out and keep it operating closer to full capacity. 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 a Fixed Income Security?

A fixed income security is one designed to pay interest/coupon payments on a predetermined basis, or a fixed schedule. Fixed income securities are often used by late stage retirees who need safe, reliable income streams. Fixed income securities still have risk, such as interest rate risk where if interest rates rise the price of a fixed income security can fall. Examples of fixed income securities are U.S. Treasuries, municipal bonds, or CDs. Because fixed income products carry relatively low risk, it generally translates into relatively lower returns. Continue reading...

What are Asset-Backed Securities?

An Asset-Backed Security, or ABS, are bonds or notes backed by financial assets. It is an example of “securitization.” The assets within the ABS generally tend to consist of different kinds of debt receivables, such as credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans, and so forth. Banks build portfolios of receivables in making loans and issuing credit, and then in many cases package these loans together and sell them to investors (known as “securitization”). 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...

What Kinds of Social Security Benefits Exist?

Social Security benefits are streams of income available for retired workers, their spouses, children and dependents, and survivors. It provides insurance against longevity, disability, and, to some extent, the death of the primary contributor. Social Security benefits are available to a worker and their dependents if the worker has triggered eligibility, which usually calculated as earning over $5,040 for 10 years, but is modified if the worker dies or is disabled at a young age. Benefits can be paid to multiple people within a household (and an ex-spouse) based on one worker’s contributions to the system, up to a Maximum Family Limit, which is somewhere between 150-180% of a worker’s full benefit amount. Continue reading...

What is an Asset-Backed Security?

Asset-backed securities are bonds or notes that come in several forms, but they typically use the cash flows from debt repayment as the asset that backs them. The assets that back the bonds called asset-backed securities (ABS) can be basically anything with a fairly predictable cash flow, but debt repayment cash flows tend to be used the most. These include credit card debt, home equity loans, auto loans, student loans, and so forth. Continue reading...

What are the Projections for Social Security Benefits?

It looks like the Social Security Trust Funds may be depleted by 2037. The system can most likely continue while paying reduced benefits that come directly from the current social security taxes to the workforce. Estimates are that the Social Security Administration could pay about 70% of its obligations at that point. There is enough money to pay Social Security benefits at the current rate until about 2037. Continue reading...