Along with Investopedia's top terms of 2019, we compiled the most popular financial topics in major cities across the U.S. While many of the winners were influenced by economic theory, presidential debates, court cases and pop culture, many of our readers in the nation's biggest cities were researching topics a little closer to home.
To determine the most popular terms by city, our data science team identified influxes of visitors from across the country to our most popular financial topics.
Atlanta, GA - Specialization
In 2019, the most popular term on Investopedia for residents of Atlanta, GA was specialization. Specialization is a method of production whereby an entity focuses on the production of a limited scope of goods to gain a greater degree of efficiency. While Atlanta doesn't specialize in one particular industry city-wide, it is home to some of the biggest and most specialized companies in the world. Coca-Cola, UPS, and The Home Depot all call Atlanta home. As a major transport hub and an international city for business, Atlanta has been able to build and grow some of the most specialized companies in the world.
Boston, MA - Tenancy-At-Will
This year's most popular Investopedia term for residents of Boston was tenancy-at-will. Also known as month-to-month or estate-at-will agreements, these usually exist in-lieu of a traditional lease, and offer both landlords and tenants more flexibility to end the arrangement in 30 days instead of the typical year-long term.
Why are Boston renters researching how to legally ghost their landlords? Boston is considering adopting rent-control laws to combat rising prices for renters that are pushing many of its citizens out of the city. Voters vehemently rejected rent-control when it came up for a vote twenty five years ago, but rising rents have pushed it back to the front burner in Bean Town. Expect more interest in this term in 2020.
Charleston, SC - Current Coupon
In 2019, Charleston's most read term was current coupon—and not the extreme couponing kind. A current coupon refers to a security that's trading closest to its par value without going over par. Though it's frequently used in reference to bonds, current coupon can also be used to understand yield spreads of mortgage-backed securities.
Chicago, IL - Divergence
Chicago's most popular term on Investopedia was divergence—when the price of an asset is moving in the opposite direction of a technical indicator. Since Chicago is the home of the CME and the CBOT, we reached out to a Certified Market Technician (CMT) to help us understand why this term may have been popular in the Windy City.
Stanley Dash, CMT®, a Program Director for the CMT Association suspects the following:
"Sometimes, divergence is observed when a market makes a new high (or low) and a related indicator say, momentum, fails to achieve a comparable benchmark," said Dash. "Chicago, it is, of course, the seat of derivatives markets that are a lens on macro and global markets. This perspective often prompts traders to look for divergences in markets beyond just stock indexes: gold, oil, currencies, even agricultural products. I’d surmise that the bull market in stocks and the macro-sophistication of the Chicago community have driven divergence high in your search results."
Columbus, OH - Porter's Five Forces
Residents of Ohio's state capital showed their corporate finance acumen by studying our term of Porter's Five Forces. Porter's Five Forces is a model that identifies and analyzes five competitive forces that shape every industry and helps determine an industry's weaknesses and strengths. The forces are: Competition in the industry, potential for new entrants, power of suppliers, power of customers and the threat of substitute products. With 20 of the Fortune 500 companies located in Columbus, it's always been all-business town. Supermarket giant Kroger calls Columbus home, as do some of the biggest insurance companies in the country in Nationwide and Progressive.
But, Columbus residents may have been searching up this term as Murray Energy, once a coal-producing multi-billion dollar corporation, filed for bankruptcy with around $10 billon in debt and unsecured pensions. For Murray, the threat of substitute products may have been its undoing as coal has diminished as a source of energy in America.
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX - Free Enterprise
Free enterprise, or the free market, refers to an economy where the market sets prices and determines products and services rather than the government. It's also the most popular term in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 2019.
Texans take their independence seriously, as everyone knows. In 2015 the State Senate passed SCR1, a resolution demanding that the federal government, “halt and reverse, effective immediately, its practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates and laws upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States of America.”
In Waco, TC, just outside of Dallas, you can visit the Dr. Pepper Museum at the Free Enterprise Institute, to learn about the origins of the iconic soda and the ethos of founder W.W. "Foots" Clements, a champion of free enterprise.
Des Moines, IA - Pension Risk Transfer
Iowa's capital city had an eye on retirement planning, with pension risk transfer as its most read term for 2019. These transfers occur when a defined-benefit pension provider wants to remove itself of obligations to pay out guaranteed retirement income to its plan participants. As of January 2019, Iowa's largest public employee pension fund showed almost $7 billion in unfunded liabilities.
Des Moines is also the 25th most popular state for retirees to move according to the Census Bureau, and it also happens to be home to several large finance and insurance companies including The Principal Financial Group and Employers Mutual Company.
Houston, TX - Natural Gas Liquids
Home to many of the nation's energy companies, it's no surprise that Houston's most popular term of 2019 was natural gas liquids—components of natural gas separated into the form of liquids. The U.S. shale boom increased extraction rates of NGLs, and their extraction is positively related to the price of crude oil. As the market price of crude decreases, oil, gas, and chemical companies expand their offerings to include NGLs and offset lost revenue.
In November, Federal officials approved permits for four South Texas liquefied natural gas export terminals, clearing the way for projects that could add tens of billions of dollars into the state economy, and potentially create thousands of jobs. Houston, and South Texas in general, have seen the bankruptcies of several oil and gas producers over the past few years, so interest in this topic is high in the region.
Kansas City, MO - Industrial Revenue Bonds
Kansas City's most read term of 2019 was Industrial Revenue Bonds, a form of municipal bond issued by a state, municipality, or county to raise money for capital projects.
Las Vegas, NV - Bull Market
2019's most read Investopedia term in Las Vegas comes as no surprise- bull market. The phrase is most often used in reference to the stock market, but can be applied to anything that's traded, including bonds, real estate, currencies, crypto and commodities. While there's no universal metric used to identify a bull market, the most common definition is a situation in which stock prices rise by 20% from recent lows. With the S&P500 up around 25% so far in 2019, the bull has been charging hard this year.
Notably, in reader surveys we've conducted in the past, we've determined that some of our most advanced traders and investors also call Las Vegas home.
Los Angeles, CA - Mello-Roos
Los Angeles's favorite term of 2019 reflects its high-cost of living. Mello-Roos, the 1982 state law created as a loophole to restrictive property tax caps, states that California can create ad hoc tax districts in order to finance infrastructure projects. By law, realtors are required to inform potential home buyers that their purchase lies within a Mello-Roos tax district, which would add to the property's tax burden.
Louisville, KY - Advertising Elasticity of Demand
Louisville's top term of 2019 was advertising elasticity of demand, the measure of a market's sensitivity to increases or decreases in advertising saturation. It's a measure of an advertising campaign's effectiveness in generating new sales, and is calculated by dividing the percentage change in the quantity demanded by the percentage change in advertising expenditures.
Milwaukee, WI - Larry Montgomery
Milwaukee residents are big fans of Wisconsin's own Kohl's department stores. Their top-read term of 2019 was the biography of Larry Montgomery, the store's former CEO and chairman. Montgomery joined Kohl's in 1988 and was credited with propelling it from a local chain store to a nationally known brand.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN - Volcker Rule
Why were our readers in the Twin Cities so fascinated by the Volcker Rule? The rule, named after the late Fed Chair Paul Volcker who helped craft it, is a federal regulation that generally prohibits banks from conducting certain investment activities with their own accounts and limits their dealings with hedge funds and private equity funds. It also requires banks to meet varying levels of reporting requirements and to disclose details of their covered trading activities to the government.
Back in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, has been fighting back against the watering down of the Volcker Rule. Kashkari helped administer the TARP program after the financial crisis and is well versed in banks behaving badly. Kaskari's defense of the Volcker Rule as it was drafted may be a big reason behind the spike in interest for this term in Minneapolis.
New Orleans, LA - Racketeering
The top-searched term in 2019 for NOLA was racketeering. Referring to crimes committed through extortion or coercion, a racketeer tries to gain money or property through intimidation or force, and can include gambling, kidnap, murder, arson, drug dealing, and bribery.
Louisiana has its own racketeering statute, known as the Louisiana Racketeering Act, which was originally enacted in 1983 and amended in 1992 to include crimes beyond drug-related offenses. The Act covers everything from murder to threatening a public official, falsifying public records, maintaining false records, money laundering and more. Despite the high interest in the term in the Bayou State, Louisiana does not make the top ten states with the biggest increase in racketeering related charges. Number one on that list is the great state of Massachusetts.
New York, NY - Variance Swap
The big apple's favorite financial topic of 2019 was Variance Swap, a form of hedging the price movement of an underlying asset, which can include exchange rates, interest rates, or the price of an index.
Seattle, WA - VEBA
Healthcare-conscious readers in Seattle made VEBA their top term of 2019. The tax-exempt trust is a method of funding healthcare expenses for employees covered by an employer-sponsored healthcare plan. Notably, a VEBA account grows tax-free and has no penalties on distributions for qualified medical expenses, including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.
It's hard to say what drove the Emerald City's residents to learn more about VEBA, but from what we can surmise, there are a lot of retirees living and moving to Washington. In fact, its one of the most tax-friendly states in the nation and one of the most popular states for retirees, according to the Census Bureau. With a lot of state employees and big employers like Bowing, Nike and Microsoft, residents may be trying to educate themselves on making healthcare more affordable in their retirement.