Category: investments

  • Mean-variance optimization

    Mean-variance optimization

    According to modern portfolio theory, investors are concerned about the “mean” and “variance” of asset returns, where the former captures the “centrality” and the latter the “spread” (or “riskiness”) of potential returns. As such, investors engage in mean-variance optimization. That is, they seek the portfolios that offer the best tradeoff between risk and return. In…

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  • Idiosyncratic risk

    Idiosyncratic risk

    What is idiosyncratic risk? It is the type of risk that affects either a single security such as a stock or a small group of securities. This is in contrast to systematic risk, which affects all risky securities in a particular market. The word “idiosyncratic” does not commonly feature in daily language. Many people may…

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  • Risk premium definition, calculator

    Risk premium definition, calculator

    Different stocks offer different levels of expected return. What causes stock A’s expected return to be higher than stock B’s expected return? How does the expected return on a risky asset relate to the risk-free rate of return? In this post, we answer both questions by introducing the concept of risk premium. Jump to: Risk…

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  • The opposite of risk averse?

    The opposite of risk averse?

    As humans, we have a natural tendency to avoid taking risks when we can, a notion that we refer to as risk aversion. This has the important implication that when we are faced with a choice between a safe payoff and a risky one, we’d opt for the latter only if it entails a sufficient…

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  • Fair game meaning

    Fair game meaning

    In daily language, “fair game” can be used to suggest that something or someone can be an object of criticism (perhaps because of their behavior or nature). But, what about the meaning of fair game in an economic or financial context? In such a context, a fair game can be defined as a game in…

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  • Risk appetite definition

    Risk appetite definition

    It is clear that some people are more comfortable investing in risky stocks than others. In a similar vein, some firms carry significantly more operational risks and/or financial risks than their competitors. Therefore, the appetite for risk varies across both firms and individuals. But, what is risk appetite? Generally speaking, an individual’s or an organization’s…

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  • Sequence of returns risk and why it’s important

    Sequence of returns risk and why it’s important

    Sequence of returns risk is the risk that your investments will fall sharply in the first 5-10 years of retirement and larger returns will not come soon enough to allow them to recover.  This risk is specific to the descent stage of your financial journey, when you are drawing an income from your investments in…

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  • What is the risk-free rate?

    What is the risk-free rate?

    The risk-free rate is the rate of return earned on a risk-free asset. While returns on risky assets such as stocks are uncertain, the key distinction of the risk-free rate of return is that we know its exact value at the time of investment. For example, we may expect a stock to yield 8% over…

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  • Return volatility formula and calculator

    Return volatility formula and calculator

    We start this lesson by discussing what is meant by (stock) return volatility. Then, we explain the return volatility formula. Finally, a simple return volatility calculator is provided for your convenience. What is (stock) return volatility? Imagine an investor who bought shares of a stock three years ago. According to the investor’s calculations, her annual…

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  • Arithmetic average return calculator and formula

    Arithmetic average return calculator and formula

    In this lesson, we introduce a simple yet really useful measure of investment performance. In particular, we discuss the arithmetic average return formula and provide a practical arithmetic average return calculator. It is really important for investors to be able to accurately assess the performance of their investments. In that sense, arithmetic average (or mean)…

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