Craig Lazzara

Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy
S&P Dow Jones Indices
Biography

Craig Lazzara is Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy for S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI). The index investment strategy team provides research and commentary on the entire S&P Dow Jones Indices’ product set, including U.S. and global equities, commodities, fixed income, and economic indices. Craig previously served as product manager for S&P Indices’ U.S. equity and real estate indices. These include the S&P 500 and the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, two of the most widely tracked benchmarks in the world.

Prior to joining S&P Indices in 2009, Craig was a managing director of Abacus Analytics, a quantitative consulting firm serving the brokerage and investment management communities. He previously directed marketing and client service for ETF Advisors and Salomon Smith Barney’s Global Equity Index Group, as well as for the Equity Portfolio Analysis group at Salomon Brothers. Earlier, Craig served as chief investment officer of Centurion Capital Management and Vantage Global Advisors, as a managing director of TSA Capital Management, and as a vice president and portfolio manager for Mellon Bank and T. Rowe Price Associates.

A Chartered Financial Analyst, Craig is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.

Author Archives: Craig Lazzara

Capitalization and Its Discontents

Last week, readers of the Financial Times were regaled by suggestions that capitalization-weighted index funds were “hugely biased,” “undiversified,” and “too trusting of the market’s judgment on a handful of very large stocks.”  Criticisms of cap weighting aren’t new, of course, and at least in the near term seem not to have been very effective Read more […]

Market Agnosticism

This weekend’s Financial Times brought John Authers’ provocative article on the frequency of financial crises.  Along the way, John gives us some excellent advice: “We should all work on the assumption that we do not know what will happen next.” John’s view of crisis prediction applies equally to the quotidian work of investment management.  Since we don’t Read more […]

Confusing Means and Ends

This morning’s Wall Street Journal informs us that the growth of exchange-traded funds has “propelled” this year’s surge in equity prices.  “Booming demand for passive investments is making exchange-traded funds an increasingly crucial driver of share prices….Surging demand for ETFs this year has to an unprecedented extent helped fuel the latest leg higher for the Read more […]

The Wrong Diagnosis

This morning’s Wall Street Journal described how “a $1.4 billion ETF gold rush” supposedly has disturbed the pricing of mining stocks around the world.  $1.4 billion turns out to be the incremental cash flow into a single exchange-traded fund designed to track an index of the gold mining industry, including some relatively small-capitalization companies.  These Read more […]

No News, and No Implications

This morning’s Wall Street Journal reported, rather breathlessly, that “U.S. bond yields are topping a key measure of the dividends that large U.S. companies pay—a shift that has broad implications for investors….”  The headline was triggered by the observation that the 2.50% “yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note…exceeded the 1.91% dividend yield on the Read more […]

Visualizing Factor Exposures

Measuring the away-from-benchmark exposures of active portfolios (or “smart beta” indices) is not inherently complicated.  To what degree, for example, is a portfolio cheaper than its benchmark, or more tilted toward high quality stocks?  Practitioners typically approach the question in one of several ways: Calculating weighted average differences – e.g., the yield on my portfolio is Read more […]

The Making of a Passivist

I have few memories of my school French, but one of the fondest is of Moliere’s Monsieur Jourdain, who was delighted to learn in middle age that he had been speaking prose for the last 40 years.  Similarly, I did not realize until recently that I was a “passivist,” as the Wall Street Journal has now anointed the Read more […]

The Worst of Both Worlds

For active managers, investment results are partly a function of skill and partly a function of the environment in which that skill is exercised.  Even perfect foresight has only conditional value.  Imagine, for example, a manager who can always identify the top quintile of performers in a given market.  If the top quintile outperforms the index as Read more […]

When Smart Beta Fails

How should an investor in a factor (or “smart beta”) index judge its performance?  In this respect at least, smart beta is like any other strategy: you should evaluate it against the claims that its vendors made before you bought it. This requires some subtlety.  Smart beta methodologies pick stocks based on fundamental or technical Read more […]

Worse Than Marxism?

The investment community was bombarded last week with a paper arguing that passive investing is “worse than Marxism.”  That any putatively-serious observer can compare an investment strategy, even one he doesn’t like, with a political ideology responsible for the deaths of millions boggles the imagination, but maybe I’m just too sensitive.  The paper’s argument seems Read more […]