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Investing

A Brief Summary of the Dodd-Frank Act

The Dodd-Frank Act, formally the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is a federal law in the United States which became official statute on the 21st July 2010, when it was signed by President Barack Obama.  The impetus for the bill was the economic crisis of 2007 and 2008; in the wake of the financial trouble, the US government were keen to introduce new regulation, in an attempt to prevent such a repeat.

Dodd-Frank ushered in the most sweeping financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression in the 1930s, with nearly every part of the United States’ financial services industry facing changes due to the bill.  As with most financial regulatory legislation, Dodd-Frank has its critics and supporters.  Some argue that the law is not tight enough and, as such, will not be able to prevent another financial crisis. Others say it is too restrictive on financial institutions and will therefore restrict economic growth.

Dodd Frank

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Dodd Frank was part of reactionary US financial legislation sought to ensure that such a financial crisis would not reoccur.  The final bill that was signed into law was intended to ultimately protect consumers and the general public, by promoting stability in the financial markets.  The law improves accountability and transparency in the financial system, ends bailouts of “too big to fail” institutions, and protects against abusive financial services practices.

Watchdog

Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The Bureau is an independent watchdog group housed at the Federal Reserve.  It has the authority to ensure that consumers and the general public have access to clear and accurate information with regards to mortgages, credit cards and other financial products.  It also protects against hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices from institutions.  Such transparency is intended to end predatory lending and ensure that consumers will not find themselves in insurmountable debt.

Bailouts and Supervision

Another aspect of the regulation ends taxpayer funded bailouts.  Rigorous standards and supervision are established to protect consumers, investors, and businesses.  Individual institutions are no longer eligible to be propped up with bailouts.  The Federal Reserve can still provide support throughout the financial system as a whole, however, tough new capital and leverage requirements are instituted which means growth is restricted. Failed financial firms are now able to liquidate in a safe manner.

Other Features

Other features of Dodd-Frank also eliminate loopholes that allow risky and abusive practices to go unnoticed and unregulated.  Shareholders are now afforded an influence on executive pay and corporate affairs.  However, these votes are non-binding.  Stringent new rules on credit rating agencies, which create transparency, have been designed to protect investors and businesses.  A council has been created to identify and address systemic risks before reverent bodies are able to cause a threat to the stability of markets and economies.  Regulators are given strong oversight powers to aggressively pursue fraud, conflicts of interest and manipulation of financial systems, which are deemed to be at the expense of the American public.

In general, the reaction to Dodd-Frank is generally thought of as a win for consumers and consequently, a loss for banks and financial institutions.  The overall aim of the law is to hedge against the next financial crisis.  This will be the ultimate test for Dodd-Frank.  But one thing remains clear: the provisions of the law will (at least for now) protect consumers, increase accountability and the transparency of banks and financial institutions.

Sources: http://www.lseg.com/markets-products-and-services/post-trade-services/unavista/regulation/dodd-frank-swaps-confirmations-documentation-reconciliation-and-compression, http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/dodd-frank.shtml, http://www.cftc.gov/lawregulation/doddfrankact/index.htm

Investing

5 Reasons to Look at Fixed Term Savings

As the knowledge towards sound investment opportunities grow, more and more people are finding it hard to resist the pull of fixed term savings rates bank accounts; and why not? This investment asset carries a number of advantages over other forms of investment. If you are looking for the perfect blend of low risk-high reward bank instruments, it is hard to look past the value that fixed term bank savings accounts offer. 

Here are 5 reasons why one should pay attention to fixed term savings accounts: 

  1. Risk mitigation. Sure, it is also sexy to invest in assets like stocks, mutual funds, or binary options among others but it does not mean those assets will assure you of solid returns. In fact, if there is any important lesson that one should take note after the 2008 economic crisis, it is that safer investment choices are in vogue, unless until the economy has fully recovered. Fixed term savings accounts offer minimal risks in terms of investment without compromising your money’s potential to earn.
  2. Profit. Fixed term savings accounts offer earning potential of up to 5% per year while savings accounts barely crack 1% and higher. Investors looking to balance risk and profit should take a good long look at fixed term investments to see if there is any other option that provides just as much return without incurring bigger risks.
  3. Fixed Term investments preach fiscal responsibility. The fact that money is tied up in fixed term investments mean people are less compelled to go out to spend it. This is advantageous for people looking for a reason to save, and not spend.
  4. History. Fixed term savings investments are not new; hence, the system has been tested again and again by many investors. Who says you have to reinvent the wheel to earn? By selecting more proven investment methods, you are more likely to reap the rewards of a sound investment.
  5. Competitiveness. There are many banks that offer fixed term savings accounts and these banks tend to outdo each other in terms of the attractiveness of the offer. Of course, that can only mean good things for the investor. Find the best offers and you’ll put your money in a better position to succeed. 

Fixed term savings accounts are great ways to save money without embracing unnecessary risks. Take a good long look at the offers and pick the one that’s best for you. 

Investing

Acquisition and Sources of Real Estate Investing

Property investment is the involvement of management, purchase, rental, sale, or ownership of a property that can be used as profit. Property development is the improvement of a specific realty property as part of the strategy in the investment of real estate. This is generally considered as a real estate sub-specialty. Relative to the other investment kinds, real estate is a form of asset that has fixed liquidity.

Real estate also is also regarded to be capital intensive and is highly dependent on cash flow. These factors must be well managed and understood otherwise the investor gives himself risks. One of the primary causes for investment to fail in working with real estate happens because the investor experiences a zero cashflow for a long time wherein the amount can’t be sustained, this will result to a forced reselling of the property gone into insolvency.

Acquisition and sources

Acquiring and searching for sources of real estate isn’t hard even though real estate markets in several countries aren’t that efficient or organized when compared with other having instruments of liquid investment. Individual properties are not interchangeable and are unique by themselves. This presents one big challenge to investors who wish to evaluate investments and price opportunities. This is one reason why when looking for properties wherein one can invest in, it involves competition and substantial effort among the investors to be able to purchase properties.
This will be variable with regards to the availability of knowledge. This gives a lot of opportunities for the investors to acquire properties at cheaper prices but poses an increased risk in terms of transaction. Investors of real estate usually use a number of appraisal methods to be able to figure out the value of the property before the purchase.
Sources of properties for investment include:
• Investment Property Companies
• Agents of real estate
• Market listings
• Private sales
• Public auction
• Wholesalers
As soon as a property fit for investment is found, the investor will negotiate a sale price and terms with the one selling the property, then after the business talk, the contract for sale will be executed. In order to be assisted in the process of acquisition, the investors can sometimes employ attorneys or agents having the knowledge about real estate. This is due to the deal that acquire a real estate posses a lot of complexes which might lead to a very expensive deal if executed improperly.

During property acquisition, the investor makes an offer to buy the reserve of the investor’s right to complete their transaction upon satisfactorily negotiating with the latter. This reservation money can be refunded or not and is a sign for the investor’s willingness and seriousness to purchase the property.

The terms for the offer in investing in property include several contingencies that allow the investor sufficient time to complete diligence and acquire financing before the final purchase. Throughout the contingency period, the one investing usually reserve the right to abolish the offer with no attached penalties and accomplish refund on money deposits. Once the contingencies expired, rescinding usually requires the forfeit of cash deposits and may sometimes leave penalties as well.

That is why, to prevent such penalties, the investor must have a great deal of understanding and knowledge on the venture that he has to overcome. Legal advises from people having investing backgrounds will greatly help to lessen the risk.

Investing

Forex: the Trading Option That’s Taken the World by Storm

Forex or foreign exchange is the process of buying and selling currency. The simplest way to think of forex (or FX as it is sometimes known) is to think of a travel agent. When you go on holiday you buy the currency of the country you’re going to and sell the currency of the country you’re in. Essentially, you’re trading currency and this is very similar to forex trading.

What is Forex?

The forex market is one of the most liquid financial markets in the world and the daily volume of trade is around $4 trillion. This is because currencies have to be traded constantly in order for business to be conducted between countries. There’s no central forex location due to the global nature of the markets and its size means that it cannot be influenced by a single person or company. Realistically, it can only be shaped by world events.

Buying, Selling and Exchange Rates

Forex trading involves the simultaneous buying of one currency and the selling of another. Each transaction has to happen in a pair and each currency has an abbreviation e.g. EUR for the euro. The ability to trade these currencies stems from the fact that the value of both currencies in the pair is constantly changing.

In forex, any exchange rate between currency pairs are labelled as the bid price and the ask price. The difference between these two prices is known as ‘the spread’ and this is how your forex broker will make its money. As with any business, prices will vary between brokers, so shop around to make sure that you get the best deal.

Points and Pips

 

In order to turn a profit, you have to know exactly how spreads are measured. So, let’s look at an example:

If USD/EUR has a bid price of 1.400 and an ask price of 1.403 then the spread is three points or, as they’re known in the world of forex, three ‘pips’. A ‘pip’ is the smallest denomination that a currency can move by and this is the same for all currencies the world over.

How Often Can You Trade?

Due to the fact that the forex market is global and doesn’t have a central base, you can trade whenever you want from anywhere in the world. The forex market does not open at weekends, however, and this is the only time that you cannot place a bet. Just think of it being open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. This means that you can trade at practically any time you want.

So, Why Invest in Forex?

If you regularly keep up with the news and follow the latest financial announcements then you have the opportunity to make a profit from forex. There’s no experience required and you can start from scratch whenever. Try watching some educational videos on trading basics to learn more and, if you think that forex is right for you, find yourself a broker and start investing. 

Investing

Are Classic Cars a Good Investment?

Are you looking for a way to diversify your investments? Do you have a natural interest in cars? If you know your classic car history and enjoy taking a gamble, you might want to consider diversifying your portfolio with a classic car. It can double as a hobby that might just make you a bit of cash. Like wine, art, and antiques, many investors are investing in classic vehicles or current models that could become potential classics in the future. There are a number of pros and cons associated with investing in classic vehicles, however, and if you’re expecting a huge pay-out it may not be right for you.

classic cars

Image Source: James B. Bleeker/Wikimedia Commons

Potential Benefits of Investing

One of the biggest pros to investing in classic vehicles is the sheer entertainment factor of it. There are some truly stunning models available at classic car shows, which you can find more info about here. If you already enjoy browsing car galleries, attend classic car shows, or fix up old cars as a hobby, you could potentially turn this into a more lucrative pursuit. Many drivers love the history and heritage that lies behind classic vehicles; and becoming an owner of one is simply a fun way to pass the time. If you can take this natural passion and combine it with a bit of research, you could reap the benefits. Another benefit to this investment is that classic models are only available in a limited quantity, which means that they stand little chance of depreciating in value over time. This is particularly true for classic models that were discontinued after a limited run.

There are a number of ways to invest in classic cars as well. You could opt to own and maintain your own models, or you could buy into a classic car investment fund which uses member funds to buy more expensive sports cars without worrying about maintenance. Finally, you can diversify your assets. Classic car ownership could round out a portfolio that’s already padded with stocks, bonds, and real estate.

The Risks Involved

Although this form of investment is like a dream come true for some, it could be unrealistic for others. If you have quite limited funds to work with, it’s tempting to invest in a beater and restore it. However, if you don’t have the knowledge and background, you may end up with a losing proposition. You need to look at the history of each model as well as the current market value. The fact that the stock of classic cars is limited is a plus for investors in that they often keep increasing in value, but it also makes it difficult to buy in at the entry level. You’ll also need to think about the cost of maintenance and repairs over time. Your car will need to be in its best possible condition to keep the value up. You may want a classic car for the thrill of driving it on the weekends, but from an investment perspective it’s better to restrict your mileage.

The Bottom Line

Investing in classic cars can potentially provide financial rewards as well as personal satisfaction, but there are many factors to consider first. It’s often better to view collecting them as a hobby rather than a pure investment, as even sought-after models can potentially decrease in value or require costly repairs. Do your research, think about your lifestyle, and weigh the pros and cons before you take the plunge.