Category Archives: Strategy

Market Myopia

As investors, we necessarily rely on history.  How we analyse that history is particular to each investor – some will look for technical patterns, some at fundamental data, still others will build quantitative models.  But all of us need data, and history is our only source. We may have to rely on history; we don’t have to fall prey to what the behavioural economists would call “recency bias.”  Indeed, taking a longer-term view can provide invaluable perspective.  Two popular views Read more [...]

Sorry, Wrong Number

Last week brought yet another indication that 2014 is proving to be a very difficult environment for active stock selection strategies.  With the majority of large cap U.S. equity managers underperforming the S&P 500, “only performances in 2006, 2010 and 2011 have been as bad or worse than the current year’s pace.” Well, in any series with variation, some years will be better than average and some will be worse, and to readers of our SPIVA reports it’s hardly a secret that most active Read more [...]

Islamic Index Market Update: August 2014

Islamic Indices Outperforming Conventional Benchmarks in 2014 Shariah-compliant benchmarks have outperformed conventional indices in 2014 as Financials – which are underrepresented in Islamic indices – have experienced some weakness, and Information Technology, Health Care and Energy - which tend to be overweight in Islamic Indices – have been sector leaders. Through August 27, 2014, the Dow Jones Islamic Market World Index gained 7.3%, while the Dow Jones Global Index gained a comparatively Read more [...]

Sell Just Before, Not After, the FOMC Meets

A recent academic paper (link here, full citation below) demonstrates that day-to-day stock market returns follow a regular bi-weekly cycle tied to the schedule of FOMC meetings, the Fed’s policy unit. A rolling five day return calculated as the excess return of stocks over T-bills peaks on the day the FOMC meets and then every other week quite consistently thereafter.  The pattern goes back to 1994 when the FOMC began regular announcements of its policy adjustments.  With a series of analyses, Read more [...]

Does active management work in Europe?

Academic arguments may well have “proven” the theoretical advantages of passive investing.  But theory is nothing without experiment; a comprehensive and impartial assessment of where and when active managers have delivered the promised “alpha” - or not - is a necessary and critical component of the debate. Our S&P Index Versus Active scorecard and associated Persistence reports have – for twelve years – quantitatively examined the performance of active mutual funds in the U.S. Read more [...]

Why So Many Worry About Inflation

Inflation fears are everywhere except in the data.  While the Fed keeps reminding us that the inflation rate is below their 2% target, analysts keep arguing that the Fed will be miss signs of inflation.  Any hint of rising prices anywhere – from the CPI to oil to the money supply – is highlighted while reports of little change are ignored.  Is there actually less threat of inflation than most perceive? Why do so many investors expect inflation to appear any moment? The numbers: The latest Read more [...]

July 31st: More Sellers than Buyers

Stocks closed down today with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials both down 1.8% despite yesterday’s stronger-than-expected GDP report, numerous earnings reports which beat Street expectations and no hints of early interest rate moves from the Fed.  Bearish or negative news stories weren’t much different from the day or week before – unrest in the Middle East, sanctions on Russia in response to fighting in the Ukraine and an on-going argument between Argentina and a hedge fund over Read more [...]

Big Week for Economic Numbers and the Fed

By lunch time next Friday (August 1st) we will have many more numbers about the economy, maybe we will know more about the economy.   The week starts slow with pending home sales on Monday, likely to show that sales of existing home are okay. Tuesday brings the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices; recent months revealed that the pace of price increases is slowing.  After warming up with two days of data, Wednesday brings second quarter GDP and the Fed’s announcement following its two day Read more [...]

Back to the Future for Small-caps

Suppose you were a financial advisor during the height of the financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009, and you presciently theorized that the market was bottoming as Federal Reserve policies and emergency U.S. Treasury rescue programs took hold to reestablish confidence in capital markets. Your theory was to favor small-cap stocks because you believed massive monetary stimulus would result in strong fundamental growth and multiple expansions for this group. The challenging question you would Read more [...]

S&P 500 Pensions and OPEB: good for companies, not good for our retirement

S&P has released their annual S&P 500 Pension report (which is available on its website at www.spdji.com or directly at bit.ly/1jPIDiE ). The short bottom line is that, in aggregate, pensions and OPEBs have become an acceptable and manageable expense for S&P 500 issues with respect to their underlying assets, earnings and cash-flow. For individuals, the additional responsibility has been shifted from corporations to them for pensions, and is already well underway for OPEBs, with the Read more [...]