WALL STREET Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan that is the original home of the New York Stock Exchange and the historic headquarters of the largest U.S. brokerages and investment banks. The term "Wall Street" is also used as a collective name for the financial and investment community, which includes stock exchanges and large banks, brokerages, securities and underwriting firms, and big businesses. Today, brokerages are geographically diverse, allowing investors free access to the same information available to Wall Street's tycoons. Dot-Com Bubble The dot-com bubble (also known as the dot-com boom, the tech bubble, and the Internet bubble) was a historic economic bubble and period of excessive speculation that occurred roughly from 1995 to 2000, a period of extreme growth in the usage and adaptation of the Internet. The Nasdaq Composite stock market index, which included many Internet-based companies, peaked in value on March 10, 2000 before crashing. The burst of the bubble, known as the dot-com crash, lasted from March 11, 2000 to October 9, 2002. During the crash, many online shopping companies, such as Pets.com, Webvan, and Boo.com, as well as communication companies, such as Worldcom, NorthPoint Communications and Global Crossing failed and shut down. Others, such as Cisco, whose stock declined by 86%, and Qualcomm, lost a large portion of their market capitalization but survived, and some companies, such as eBay and Amazon.com, declined in value but recovered quickly. MORTGAGE A mortgage is a debt instrument, secured by the collateral of specified real estate property, that the borrower is obliged to pay back with a predetermined set of payments. Mortgages are used by individuals and businesses to make large real estate purchases without paying the entire value of the purchase up front. Over a period of many years, the borrower repays the loan, plus interest, until he/she eventually owns the property free and clear. Mortgages are also known as "liens against property" or "claims on property." If the borrower stops paying the mortgage, the bank can foreclose. LEVERAGE To leverage a company or investment means to use borrowed money in order to buy it or pay for it.