Investment has different meanings in finance and economics. Finance investment is putting money into something with the expectation of gain, that upon thorough analysis, has a high degree of security for the principal amount, as well as security of return, within an expected period of time. In contrast putting money into something with an expectation of gain without thorough analysis, without security of principal, and without security of return is speculation or gambling. As such, those shareholders who fail to thoroughly analyze their stock purchases, such as owners of mutual funds, could well be called speculators. Indeed, given the efficient market hypothesis, which implies that a thorough analysis of stock data is irrational, all rational shareholders are, by definition, not investors, but speculators.
To avoid speculation an investment must be either directly backed by the pledge of sufficient collateral or insured by sufficient assets pledged by a third party.[original research?] A thoroughly analyzed loan of money backed by collateral with greater immediate value than the loan amount may be considered an investment. A financial instrument that is insured by the pledge of assets from a third party, such as a deposit in a financial institution insured by a government agency may be considered an investment. Examples of these agencies include, in the United States, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or National Credit Union Administration, or in Canada, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Promoters of and news sources that report on speculative financial transactions such as stocks, mutual funds, real estate, oil and gas leases, commodities, and futures often inaccurately or misleadingly describe speculative schemes as investment.
Investment: thorough analysis and security. Speculation: analysis and some risk. Gambling: lack of analysis and lack of safety.