401K Plan___A savings retirement plan, set up by an employer, that allows workers to set aside a portion of their wages and salaries. The employer can match the contributions made by the employee. Like other private pension plans, income diverted to 401(k) plans are tax deferred, that is, taxes on not paid on the income until it is withdrawn during retirement.
403B Plan___A retirement savings plan for employees of colleges, hospitals, school districts, and nonprofit organizations.
Adam Smith___A Scottish professor (born 1723, died 1790) who is considered the father of modern economics for his revolutionary book, entitled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations published in 1776.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage___A mortgage loan whose interest rate fluctuates (goes up or down) according to the movements of an assigned index or a designated market indicator–such as the weekly average of one-year U.S. Treasury Bills–over the life of the loan.
Ad Valorem Tax___A tax that is specified as a percentage of value. Sales, income, and property taxes are three of the more popular ad valorem taxes devised by government. The total ad valorem tax paid increases with the value of what’s being taxed.
Adverse Selection___A phenomenon that occurs when those applying for insurance coverage have more information than the insurer. If the insurer does not have enough information, they cannot price the policy correctly and thus can end up overcharging some and undercharging others. For example, if an insurer is pricing a life insurance policy and does not know the age of the applicant, they cannot price the policy appropriately. The insurer will charge an average premium which will be overpriced for a young person and under-priced for an older person.
Affordable Care Act (ACA)___2010 U.S. legislation signed by President Obama regarding health insurance requirements of employers and employees
Allocation___The process of distributing resources for the production of goods and services, and of distributing goods and services for consumption by households. This process of allocation is essential to an economy’s effort to address the problem of scarcity. An allocation is efficient if the resources, goods, and services are distributed according to the economy’s highest valued uses.
All Risk Coverage___An insurance policy that does not specifically list all covered perils. The policy protects against all perils as defined by the general policy unless specifically excluded.
Amortization___The process of paying off a debt liability and accrued interest through a series of equal, periodic payments. Car loans and mortgages are two debts commonly paid off through amortization. Your monthly car payment, for example, partially pays for interest accrued on the outstanding balance and partly reduces that balance. Because one payment reduces the outstanding balance, each subsequent payment has a smaller portion for interest. If the proper amortization schedule has been calculated, your loan will be paid off with the last payment.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)___The terms annual percentage of rate (APR), nominal APR, and effective APR (EAR) describe the interest rate for a whole year (annualized), rather than just a monthly fee/rate, as applied on a loan, mortgage loan, credit card, etc
Annual Report___An annual report is a comprehensive report on a company’s activities throughout the preceding year. Annual reports are intended to give shareholders and other interested people information about the company’s activities and financial performance
Annuity___The receipt of payments at regular intervals from a established fund. Annuities are commonly used for insurance and retirement programs. It works in this way: A fund, which can be established either through a one-time sum of money or a series of payments, is exhausted over time with fixed, periodic payments. The amount of each payment depends on the interest accrued on the outstanding balance in the fund, and the length of time scheduled to exhaust the fund. For example, if your pension plan is based on an annuity that begins payments at the age of 65, then the size of the payments depends on whether you expect to live 5, 10, 15, or more years and set up payments accordingly. It’s very similar to amortization, but in the reverse direction.
Antitrust Laws___Federal and state laws prohibiting, among other things, monopolies, monopolistic practices, restraint of trade, and price fixing to allow a free and open market.
Apple, Inc.___Apple Inc. (; previously Apple Computer, Inc.) is an American multinational corporation that designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company’s best-known hardware products include the Macintosh computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
Appraisal___An expert estimate of the value of something.
Appreciation___An increase in the monetary value of something.
Arbitrage___Buying something in one market then immediately (or as soon as possible) selling it in another market for (hopefully) a higher price. Arbitrage is a common practice in financial markets. For example, an aspiring financial tycoon might buy a million dollars worth of Japanese yen in the Tokyo foreign exchange market then resell it immediately in the New York foreign exchange market for more than a million dollars. Arbitrage of this sort does two things. First, it often makes arbitragers wealthy. Second, it reduces or eliminates price differences that exist between two markets for the same good.
Arbitration___Intervention of an impartial third party to settle disputes between two others. The decisions of this third party — the arbitrator — are legally binding, much like the ruling of a judge in a court of law. Arbitration is commonly used to interpret a collective bargaining agreement between unions and employers. Much like a judge (in some cases it is a judge) an arbitrator determines how a given union and employer conflict stacks up against the terms of existing agreement. Note that an arbitrator doesn’t try to decide what’s “best, “fair,” or mutually agreeable to both sides — as would be the case with mediation — but only what’s in line with the existing agreement.
Asset___Something that you own. For a person, assets can be financial, like money, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and government securities, or they can be physical things, like cars, boats, houses, clothes, food, and land. The important assets for our economy are the output we have produced and the resources, capital, and natural resources used to produce that output.
Baby Boomer___A citizen of the good old U. S. of A. born between the years 1946 and 1960. These Boomers represent a relatively large segment of the population and outnumber any other group born during a similar period, such as those born from 1931 to 1945 or from 1961 to 1975. Over the years, they’ve tended to set the standard for consumption, production, and politics. They have had and will continue to have a big impact on the Social Security system. As labor, they’ve provided an amble pool of tax funds and thus sizable benefits to Social Security recipients during the 1980’s and 1990’s. When these Boomers retire in the 2020’s and beyond, however, they will leave a big gap in the labor force and also demand a great deal from the Social Security system.
Balance of Trade___The difference between funds received by a country when exporting merchandise and the funds paid for importing merchandise. The balance of trade is a major part of the current accounts portion of the balance of payments. A balance of trade surplus results if exports exceed imports, commonly termed a favorable balance of trade, and a balance of trade deficit exists if imports exceed exports, analogously termed an unfavorable balance of trade. The “favorable” and “unfavorable” normative connotations attached to the balance of trade rests with the presumption that a nation is “better off” when it exports more than it imports, which is not necessarily true.
Balanced Budget___An equality between the revenues and expenditures that constitute a budget. The notion of a budget is most important for governments, where revenues are taxes and expenditures are assorted public goods, administrative expenses, etc. While the federal government has been notorious for its failure to maintain a balanced budget, except for periods of unexpected prosperity, many state and local governments are very good at this sort of thing.
Balance Sheet___A statement of the assets, liabilities, and net worth of a company at a given point in time. The basic relationship illustrated by a balanced sheet is that assets minus liabilities are equal to net worth. Or alternatively, assets are equal to liabilities plus net worth. This is one of two financial statements for an entity. The other is an income statement, which reports the revenues, expenses, and profit over a period of time.
Bank___Financial intermediaries that function as depository institutions, maintaining deposits, making loans, and directly controlling the checkable deposits portion of the economy’s money supply. As financial intermediaries, banks match up lenders and borrowers, using deposits for loans. However, banks are also responsible for maintaining liquid checkable deposits that are used as money for the economy. The generic term “banks” or “commercial banks” is used in reference to traditional banks, as well as checking-account issuing thrift institutions–credit unions, savings and loan associations, and mutual savings banks.
Bank of the United States___This was actually two central banks that preceded the Federal Reserve System as the nation’s monetary authority. The First Bank of the United States, under the design of Alexander Hamilton, commenced operations in 1791, almost immediately after the U.S. Constitution was written and George Washington became the first U.S. President. Its charter was not renewed and it ceased to operate in 1811. Financial instability resulting from the absence of a central bank over the next few years prompted the formation of the Second Bank of the United States in 1816. The Second Bank’s performance, however, was somewhat more suspect. When it knocked heads with President Andrew Jackson, a strong critic of central banking, the Second Bank ceased to be in 1836.
Bankruptcy___A legal declaration that the liabilities of a proprietor (individual), partnership, or corporation are greater than assets. In other words, a consumer or business that is unable to pay the bills can go to court and be formally declared bankrupt. The impetus for entering a court can come voluntarily from the deadbeat who has acquired more liabilities than assets, or involuntarily from the creditors who have been unable to collect from the deadbeat.
Bank Run___A situation in which a relatively large number of a bank’s customers attempt to withdraw their deposits in a relatively short period of time, usually within a day or two. While common throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, government deposit insurance has largely eliminated banks runs in the modern economy. Historically a bank run was prompted by fears that the bank was on the verge of collapse, causing deposits to become worthless. Ironically a bank run often caused the bank to fail. Bank runs were often infectious, leading to economy-wide bank panics and business-cycle contractions.
Barter___A method of trading goods, commodities, or services, directly for one another without the use of money. In a barter exchange one good is traded directly for another. This sort of exchange ultimately requires a double coincidence of wants, meaning that each trader has what the other trader wants and wants what the other has. Without a double coincidence of wants the exchange process can become exceedingly complex, requiring a great deal of resources to complete transactions, resources that can not be used for production. In fact, inefficient barter trading was the primary reason that money was invented. With money, more resources can be used for production and fewer are needed for trading.
Basis Point___One hundredth of one percent, used chiefly in expressing differences of interest rates.
Bear Market___A condition of the stock market in which stock prices are generally declining and most of the participants expect this decline to continue. In other words, the stock market is into an extended period of “hibernation” that could last for months or even years. This isn’t the same as a “crash” of falling stock prices over a short time (like one day). A bear market usually occurs because investors see a sluggish, stagnant economy with few signs of robust growth.
Berkshire-Hathaway___Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that oversees and manages a number of subsidiary companies. Warren Buffett is the company’s chairman and CEO.
Beta___A measure of the variability of rate of return or value of a stock or portfolio compared to that of the overall market. A beta below 1 implies lesser volatility. A beta above 1 implies greater volatility.
Binder___A temporary insurance contract provided by an insurance agent (who “binds” the insurer to the promised coverage) until the permanent contract is in place.
Black Knight___The company that makes a hostile takeover offer on a target company.
Black Market___An illegal market in which the price of the goods sold is above a legally set maximum price. A black market invariable results whenever the government imposes a price ceiling on a good. A common example of a price ceiling is rent controls on apartments in many large cities. Although landlords cannot “legally” rent apartments for more than the specified maximum, they often do so “illegally” by charging “finders fees” and “tenant association dues.” In so doing, they have entered into the realm of black markets.
Blue Chip Stock___The corporate stock of relatively large, good old U. S. of A. companies that tend to be consistently profitable, pay out consistently high dividends, and are consistently stable force in the economy. The blue chip stocks are often considered synonymous with those included in Dow Jones averages.
Board of Governors___The policy-making head of the Federal Reserve System. The Board is comprised of 7 members, each serving 14-year terms, with one term expiring every two years. This Board, when joined by five Federal Reserve District Bank presidents forms the Federal Open Market Committee. The Chairman of the Board of Governors is considered to be one of the, if not THE, most powerful individuals in the economy.
Bond___The general term for a long-term loan in which a borrower agrees to pay a lender an interest rate (usually fixed) over the length of the loan and then repay the principal at the date of maturity. Bond maturities are usually 10 years or more, with 30 years quite common. Bonds are used by corporations and federal, state, and local governments to raise funds. Most bonds are negotiable, or can be readily traded prior to their maturity date. The price at which a bond sells depends on the original amount borrowed, the interest rate the bond pays, and comparable interest rates and returns on other investments in the economy.
Bond Funds___Mutual funds that invest in bonds.
Bond Rating___A measure of the ability of a firm to meet its debt obligations or credit worthiness. Basically, a bond rating summarizes the assessment of a firm’s net worth, cash flow and viability of projects so that investors can assign the size of the default-risk premium to the bond. These measurements are so important that investors frequently pay professional analysts to collect, monitor and process information about firms. Standard and Poor’s Corporation and Moody’s Investors Service are two of the most respected bond rating agencies.
Boycott___An organized effort to reduce the sales of a particular good that’s intended to punished the producer or seller. Boycotts are promoted by labor unions to inflict harm on their companies and (hopefully) encourage their employers to settle labor distributes. Special interest groups also use boycotts to achieve assorted political goals. Some groups, for example, have called for boycotts of the products advertised on “undesirable” television shows, while others have boycotted companies that do business in politically “undesirable” countries.
Brand Name___That part of a brand that can be spoken. McDonald’s use both its name and the “Golden Arches” as part of its brand. McDonald’s would be the brand name.
Broker___Anyone who is paid to bring together buyers and sellers to complete a market transaction. Common examples of brokers are real estate agents, stock brokers, and insurance agents. The thing to note about brokers is that they don’t buy or sell anything, but merely bring buyers and sellers together. This little function is different from that of a dealer. A dealer is one who is always ready to help a transaction by selling to those who are buying or buying from those who are selling. As such, while stock brokers are in fact brokers, matching up buyers and sellers, many are also dealers, ready to buy or sell if no one else does.
Budget___A statement of the financial position of an entity–especially household, business, or government–based on estimates of anticipated revenues and expenditures. A budget is balanced if the revenues and expenditures are equal. A budget deficit arises if expenditures exceed revenues and a budget surplus exists if revenues are greater than expenditures.
Budget Deficit___An excess of budgetary expenditures over revenues. The federal government is well known for its inclination to operate with a budget deficit. But it is not alone. Consumers also find themselves in this position on many occasions. When a budget deficit occurs, the excess spending is financed through borrowing. For the federal government this involves issuing government securities. For households it typically involves some sort of bank loan, credit card purchase, use of savings (borrowing from thyself), or hitting a friend up for a few bucks.
Budget Surplus___An excess of budgetary revenues over expenditures. This seemingly rare event is in fact commonly practiced by many state and local governments — albeit often because of constitutional mandates. The federal government has even accomplished this feat once or twice. Consumers operate a budget surplus whenever they’re able to put a little bit of their income into saving.
Bull Market___A condition of the stock market in which stock prices are generally rising and most of the participants expect this to continue. In other words, the stock market is into an extended period of “charging ahead” like a mad bull. A bull market usually occurs because investors see a healthy, vibrant, profitable economy on the horizon. Compare bear market.
Business___A profit-motivated organization that combines resources for the production and supply of goods and services. The term business is often used synonymously with the term firm. If there is any difference, and a subtle difference at that, the term business usually refers to a productive organization that is privately owned and motivated by the pursuit of profit. A firm, in contrast, could also refer to nonprofit and/or publicly controlled productive organizations. But this distinction is quite subtle and for most economic analyses the terms firm and business are used interchangeably. Profit-motivated businesses are organized as either a proprietorship (1 owner) with unlimited liability, a partnership (2 or more equal owners) with unlimited liability, or a corporation that issues limited liability stock ownership shares.
Business Cycle___The recurring expansions and contractions of the national economy (usually measured by real gross domestic product). A complete cycle typically lasts from three to five years, but could last ten years or more. It is divided into four phases — expansion, peak, contraction, and trough. Unemployment inevitably rises during contractions and inflation tends to worsen during expansions. To avoid the inflation and unemployment problems of business cycles, the federal government frequently undertakes various fiscal and monetary policies.
Business Plan___A business plan defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as a company’s resume. The basic elements include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis. It helps the company allocate scarce resources properly and functions as a road map to make good business decisions. A marketing plan should be an integral part of the business plan.
Business Sector___The basic macroeconomic sector containing the private, profit-seeking firms in the economy that combine scarce resources into the production of wants-and-needs satisfying goods and services. The key economic function of the business sector is the production of goods and services. The three basic types of business organizations that comprise the business sector are proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. This is one of the four macroeconomic sectors. The other three are household sector, government sector, and foreign sector. You might want to check out the key role that the business sector plays in the circular flow.
Buyer’s Market___A disequilibrium condition in a competitive market that has a surplus, such that buyers are able to force the price down. Note that a buyers’ market does not mean that a lack of competition among demanders have given buyers market control. A buyers’ market is a competitive market that simply has a temporary imbalance between the quantity demanded by the buyers and the quantity supplied by the sellers. The buyers’ market phrase is commonly used (mainly by real world non-economist types) to describe a surplus in real estate or housing markets. It’s also commonly used when describing assorted financial markets. You might want to examine the opposite of a buyers’ market, which is a sellers’ market. Additional information on the real estate market can be found in the entry on building cycle.
Buyer’s Remorse___The post purchase behavior a consumer experiences when one has doubts as to whether the purchase decision was correct or not. This is a possible step five in the decision making process (post-purchase behavior). It can be overcome by effective decision making up-front on the part of the consumer. The seller can help eliminate this by making follow-up calls or visits to reinforce the correctness of the decision on the part of a buyer.
Buying on Margin___A risky short-term strategy where a buyer borrows money from a broker to make an investment. The buyer believes the stock price will rise and is trying to maximize profits by investing more money in the stock.
Call Option___The option to buy a given stock (or stock index or commodity future) at a given price before a given date.
Capital (resource)___One of the four basic categories of resources, or factors of production. It includes the manufactured (or previously produced) resources used to manufacture or produce other things. Common examples of capital are the factories, buildings, trucks, tools, machinery, and equipment used by businesses in their productive pursuits. Capital’s primary role in the economy is to improve the productivity of labor as it transforms the natural resources of land into wants-and-needs-satisfying goods.
Capital Gains Tax___A tax on the difference between the sales price of a “capital” asset and it’s original purchase price. The capital assets subject to this tax include such things real estate, stocks, and bonds. This tax is frequently a source of controversy between the second and third estates. In that the second estate owns and sells a lot of this sort of capital, they don’t like to pay taxes on capital gains. However, because the third estate doesn’t have much capital it seems like a pretty good thing to tax. Those who oppose the capital gains tax argue that it takes away funds that would be used for further capital investment, which thus inhibits economic growth. Those who favor it argue that helps equalize unfairly unequal income and wealth distributions.
Capital Good___A good that is a manufactured (or previously produced) factor of production that is used to manufacture or produce other things. Common examples of capital goods re the factories, buildings, trucks, tools, machinery, and equipment used by businesses in their productive pursuits. The acquisition of capital goods is the primary goal of business investment.
Capitalism___A type of economy based on — (1) private ownership of most resources, goods, and other stuff (private property); (2) freedom to generally use the privately-owned resources, goods, and other stuff to get the most wages, rent, interest, and profit possible; and (3) a system of relatively competitive markets. While government establishes the legal “rules of the game” for capitalism and provides assorted public goods, like national defense, education, and infrastructure, most production, consumption, and resource allocation decisions are left up to individual businesses and consumers. The term capitalism is derived from the notion that capital goods are under private, rather than government, ownership (compare communism, socialism.
Capitalization___The total amount of securities issued by a corporation. This may include: bonds, debentures, preferred stock, common stock and surplus.
Cartel___A formal agreement between businesses in the same industry, usually on an international scale, to get market control, raise the market price, and otherwise act like a monopoly. A cartel tends to be unstable because the artificially high prices it sets gives each member of the cartel an incentive to “cheat” with a slightly lower price. When only one member of the cartel lowers the price, it can make oodles of profit by taking customers away from the other members. If they all cheat, the cartel falls apart. While cartels damage efficiency, they’re power is often short-lived because of this cheating. Like collusion and other techniques of market control, cartels are illegal in the United States.
C Corporation___The term used for a standard corporation to distinguish it from the new S corporation. As such, it is established as a separate legal entity, sells ownership shares, and owners have limited liability. The difference is that a C corporation is subject to double taxation but an S corporation is not.
Central Bank___The banking authority of a nation that’s in charge of ensuring a sound money supply and conducting the country’s monetary policy. It’s usually authorized by, and works closely with, the government to achieve full employment, low inflation rates , economic growth, and all of the other goals that make people happy, healthy, and wise. Unlike many other nations, which have a single central bank, the good old U. S. of A. actually has a de-central bank.
Certificate of Coverage___A document explaining the health benefits you and your dependents have under the health insurance plan provided by the group (usually an employer). It details the services that will and will not be covered. Services that are not covered are called exclusions. The actions you have to take to receive the health benefits—such as paying a co-payment, meeting a deductible, or using particular health care providers—are called conditions.
Certificate of Deposit (CD)___A type of savings account, commonly termed CDs, maintained by banks and other depository institutions that pays higher interest rates that normal savings accounts, but requires the funds not be withdrawn for a specified time period
Checking Account___Money kept in a bank or savings and loan for safekeeping. Money can be easily withdrawn by writing checks or using an ATM or debit card.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)___A chief executive officer (CEO) or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of total management of an organization. An individual appointed as CEO of a corporation, company, organization, or agency reports to the board of directors.
Claim___A demand by an individual or corporation to recover, under a policy of insurance, for a loss that may be covered under that policy.
Closed End Fund___A fund that does not issue new shares or accept new money after the initial public offering. Closed-end securities can be purchased in the open market, just like a stock
Collateral___Something pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default.
Collection Agency___A collection agency is a business that pursues payments on debts owed by individuals or businesses. Most collection agencies operate as agents of creditors and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed.
Collective Bargaining___The negotiation process between a union and the company that employs the union’s members — usually going by the moniker of management. The purpose of collective bargaining is to find mutual agreement on wages, fringe benefits, work hours, promotion criteria, grievance procedures, and everything else that has to do with employment. The end result of this process is a collective bargaining agreement, which is a formal contract between management and the union. A negotiation process that breaks down without reaching an agreement might lead to a strike, lockout, or mediation.
Collusion___A usually secret agreement among competing firms (mostly oligopolistic firms) in an industry to control the market, raise the market price, and otherwise act like a monopoly. The reason for the secrecy is that such behavior is illegal in the United States under antitrust laws. Collusion is a characteristic trait of oligopolistic industries. Intense competition and interdependent decision-making encourages oligopolistic firms to cooperate. One way to lessen the competition among an oligopolistic rival is to join forces through collusion. (The other way is through merger, but that’s another entry.)
Command Economy___An economy in which the government uses its coercive powers (such as command and control) to answer the three questions of allocation. This is the real world version of the idealized theoretical pure command economy. While in this real world version some allocation decisions are undertaken by markets, the vast majority are made through central planning. The two most notable command economies of the 20th century were the communist/socialist economic systems of China and the Soviet Union.
Commercial Insurance___Insurance designed to cover commercial needs (that is, “organizational,” including corporations, partnerships, municipalities, charitable organizations), as opposed to personal lines, which cover personal needs. Examples include commercial general liability (CGL), workers compensation, and commercial property insurance.
Commodity___Raw materials or unprocessed products such as coffee beans, copper ore or cotton traded on exchanges.
Common Market___An agreement among two or more nations to eliminate trade restrictions with each other, to adopt a common trade policy with other nations, and to allow free movement of resources among their countries. There is, however, no effort to adopt common monetary or fiscal policies. This is considered the third of four levels of integration among nations. Customs union, economic union, and free-trade area are the other three levels.
Common Stock___The ownership shares in a corporation that have legal claim to the corporation’s assets. Stock is usually dividend into two types, common stock and preferred stock. Preferred stock has first claim to the corporations net assets, and common stock comes in second. However, if a corporation has no preferred stock, the common stock has exclusive claim. Most stocks are negotiable and are traded one on a stock market.
Competitive Market___A market with a large number of buyers and a large number of sellers, such that no single buyer or seller is able to influence the price or any other aspect of the market — no one has any market control. A competitive market achieves efficiency in the use of our scarce resources if there are no market failures present.
Compound Interest___Interest that’s added to a principal at regular intervals such that each subsequent interest calculation is based on the original principal and the added interest. For example, suppose you have a $100 savings account that pays 5 percent interest. Without compound interest, such that your 5 percent interest is paid only at the end of a year, you will have exactly $105 in one year. However, if your interest is compounded each month you end up with $105.12 after a year. The extra 12 cents comes from interest on the interest paid the first month, interest on the interest paid the second month, interest on the interest paid the third month… well I could go on.
Consumers___A broad term for people when they are engaged in the use of goods and services to satisfy wants and needs. Consumers are part of the household sector
Consumer Price Index___An index of prices of goods and services typically purchased by urban consumers. The Consumer Price Index, commonly known by its abbreviation, CPI, is compiled and published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), using price data obtained from an elaborate survey of 25,000 retail outlets and quantity data generated by the Consumer Expenditures Survey. The CPI is unquestionably one of the most widely recognized macroeconomic price indexes, running second only to the Dow Jones averages in the price index popularity contest. It is used not only as an indicator of the price level and inflation, but also to convert nominal economic indicators to real terms and to adjust wage and income payments (such as Social Security) for inflation.
Contract___A formal agreement, typically written, between two or more parties that agrees on a specified outcome.
Contraction___A phase of the business cycle characterized by a general period of declining economic activity. A contraction is one of two basic business cycle phases. The other is expansion. The transition from contraction to expansion is termed a trough and the transition from expansion to contraction is termed a peak. The popular term for contraction, one that frequent shows up in the media, is recession. Should you check out the entry recession, you will see information that is essentially identical to that presented here, because they are two terms for the same phenomenon.
Co-payment___A percentage contribution by the policyholder for each dollar of loss covered by the policy. For instance, if a health insurance plan includes a 20% co-payment, then for $70 in covered medical charges, the insurer would pay 80% of the cost (or $56) and the policyholder pays the remaining 20% ($14). Co-payment is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “coinsurance” which is a separate insurance term.
Corporate Bond___A bond issued by a corporation to raise the funds used for capital investment. A corporate bond usually has a maturity date of 5 years or more, with 30 years common. Most corporate bonds are negotiable and traded through financial markets after issued.
Corporation___One of the three basic forms of business organization (the other two are proprietorship and partnership). A corporation is a business established through ownership shares (termed corporate stock). A corporation is considered a distinct legal person, that can be sued, forced to pay taxes, etc., just like a human person. Unlike proprietorships and partnerships businesses, a corporation business exists separately from its owners. As such, the owners have what lawyer-types term limited liability. Owners cannot be held personally responsible for corporate debts. The owners can only lose the value of their ownership shares, but no more.
Corporate Stock___The ownership shares in a corporation that have legal claim to the corporation’s assets. Stock is usually dividend into two types, common stock and preferred stock. Preferred stock has first claim to the corporations net assets, and common stock comes in second. However, if a corporation has no preferred stock, the common stock has exclusive claim. Most stocks are negotiable and are traded one on a stock market.
Credit___The promise of future payment in exchange for money, goods, services, or anything else of value. Car loans, mortgages, credit cards, corporate bonds, commercial paper, and government securities are all forms of credit. In fact, credit is an extremely wide-spread and critical part of our economy. About one-third of the stuff consumers buy, and nine-tenths of business expenditures is on credit. Most business capital, and consumer car and home purchases would be impossible without credit. Moreover, given the time lapse between paying for inputs and selling output, few businesses could produce much without credit.
Credit Agency___A credit rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations as well as the debt instruments themselves