Monetary Policy – The regulation of the money supply and interest rates by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Board in the U.S., in order to control inflation and stabilize currency. Monetary policy is one the two ways the government can impact the economy. By impacting the effective cost of money, the Federal Reserve can affect the amount of money that is spent by consumers and businesses.
Fiscal Cliff – A combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board government spending cuts scheduled to become effective December 31, 2012. The idea behind the fiscal cliff was that if the federal government allowed these two events to proceed as planned, they would have a detrimental effect on an already shaky economy, perhaps sending it back into an official recession as it cut household incomes, increased unemployment rates and undermined consumer and investor confidence. At the same time, it was predicted that going over the fiscal cliff would significantly reduce the federal budget deficit.
Diversification – A portfolio strategy designed to reduce exposure to risk by combining a variety of investments, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, which are unlikely to all move in the same direction. The goal of diversification is to reduce the risk in a portfolio. Volatility is limited by the fact that not all asset classes or industries or individual companies move up and down in value at the same time or at the same rate. Diversification reduces both the upside and downside potential and allows for more consistent performance under a wide range of economic conditions.
Fixed Income: A security that pays a specific interest rate, such as a bond, money market instrument, or preferred stock.
Equities – An instrument that signifies an ownership position, or equity, in a corporation, and represents a claim on its proportionate share in the corporation’s assets and profits. A person holding such an ownership in the company does not enjoy the highest claim on the company’s earnings. Instead, an equity holder’s claim is subordinated to creditor’s claims, and the equity holder will only enjoy distributions from earnings after these higher priority claims are satisfied. Also called stocks or equity securities or corporate stock.