Category Archives: Equities

Tennis Without a Net

Indices existed well before the launch of indexed financial products. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, e.g., goes back to 1896; the first indexed institutional portfolios appeared in the 1970s, the first index mutual fund in 1976, and the first index-tracking exchange traded funds in the 1990s. In all these cases, the index provider was independent Read more […]

Equity Auguries?

The market for credit default swaps is typically not well-understood by equity investors (myself emphatically included).  This is unfortunate, since the price of insuring a company’s bonds (which is what a CDS measures) can sometimes provide insight into the same company’s equity securities. For example, in September 2012, the S&P 500 financials sector began to Read more […]

Joining the Index Club

The Wall Street Journal recently urged its readers to “Beware of Index Funds That Aren’t” (http://on.wsj.com/Xycv7P). If some soi-disant index funds “aren’t,” which ones “are” — or, at the most basic level, what is an index? A good working definition of an index is this: an index is a portfolio in which constituent and weighting Read more […]

Monkey See, Monkey Do?

A recently published paper  received a fair amount of publicity for its suggestion that portfolios selected randomly by monkeys would have outperformed a capitalization-weighted index of the same universe.  In recent years it seems like everyone is bashing cap-weighted indices, so it was probably only a matter of time until apes took a shot. Maybe Read more […]

Market Attributes: Index Dashboard

Simple juxtapositions can sometimes produce insight, or so at least runs the theory behind our just-introduced monthly U.S. index dashboard: http://us.spindices.com/documents/commentary/dashboard_032813_2914.pdf. For the first quarter of 2013, e.g., we can observe that: The equity markets were very strong (no revelation there), with both the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 both up more than 10% and Read more […]

Income Beyond Bonds

With both short- and long-term interest rates in the basement, income-sensitive investors have naturally begun to look to equities.  Significantly, the yield on the S&P 500 now exceeds that of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond – a relationship last seen in approximately 1958.  But if some equity yield is good, does that mean that more Read more […]

Low Volatility: Active or Passive?

A recent posting suggested that institutional investors interested in exploiting the low volatility anomaly should do so by using active managers rather than one of the several passive vehicles available.  Far be it from me to criticize anyone for talking his own book, since I’m about to do it – but this is reminiscent of Read more […]