Margin requirements for futures and futures options are established by each exchange through a calculation algorithm known as SPAN margining. SPAN (Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk) evaluates overall portfolio risk by calculating the worst possible loss that a portfolio of derivative and physical instruments might reasonably incur over a specified time period (typically one trading day.) This is done by computing the gains and losses that the portfolio would incur under different market conditions. The most important part of the SPAN methodology is the SPAN risk array, a set of numeric values that indicate how a particular contract will gain or lose value under various conditions. Each condition is called a risk scenario. The numeric value for each risk scenario represents the gain or loss that that particular contract will experience for a particular combination of price (or underlying price) change, volatility change, and decrease in time to expiration.
Borrowing money to purchase securities is known as "buying on margin". When an investor borrows money from his broker to buy a stock, he must open a margin account with his broker, sign a related agreement and abide by the broker's margin requirements. The loan in the account is collateralized by investor's securities and cash. If the value of the stock drops too much, the investor must deposit more cash in his account, or sell a portion of the stock.
Unit Tests for Position/Portfolio - While I've not mentioned it directly in diary entries #1 and #2, I've actually been writing some unit tests for the Portfolio and Position objects. Since these are so crucial to the calculations of the strategy, one must be extremely confident that they perform as expected. An additional benefit of such tests is that they allow the underlying calculation to be modified, such that if all tests still pass, we can be confident that the overall system will continue to behave as expected.
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Trading on a margin can have varying consequences. It can influence your trading experience both positively and negatively, with both profits and losses potentially being seriously augmented. Your broker takes your margin deposit and then pools it with someone else's margin Forex deposits. Brokers do this in order to be able to place trades within the whole interbank network.