Category Archives: Strategy

The Turning Point

Thirty-five years ago on September 30, 1981 the 10 Year treasury yield peaked at 15.85%.  With a few bumps it has slid downward ever since – until now. The events of the last few weeks moved interest rates higher and added about 25 bp to the ten year treasury.  Even allowing for some near-term volatility Read more […]

Winners and Losers in Trump’s Electoral Surprise

Donald Trump’s unexpected success initially threatened to send the U.S. equity markets into steep decline.  Yet as I write, the S&P 500 has moved very little since yesterday’s close (it is up a little), while the VIX has fallen dramatically. So why (or how) has volatility remained so low this morning when everyone expected it to 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 […]

VIX is holding the Trump card

Despite a narrowing election race and a deluge of earnings, the S&P 500 has not seen a daily change greater than 1% in nearly four weeks.  Realized volatility remains remarkably low.  But the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) – a predictive measure of future volatility that is often seen as Wall Street’s “fear gauge” – has Read more […]

2016 Presidential Election: Can Put Options Help Reduce Portfolio Volatility?

No other recent presidential elections have been as divided as this year’s.  As the objectivity and credibility regarding poll numbers and media coverage of the candidates are being questioned, the U.S. economy and the capital market are facing an unusual level of political risk.  Market participants may seek various tools to hedge the downside risk, Read more […]

Examining Low Volatility’s Performance in Various Market Environments

Rates, volatility and a broad market rally have contributed to the factor’s late-summer slump Late summer has not been fruitful for the low volatility factor. From July 6 to Sept. 9, the S&P 500 Low Volatility Index has fallen by 4.67%, while the S&P 500 Index gained 1.70%.1 This is in sharp contrast to the Read more […]

$60 Trillion – Yes, Trillion – Committed to Investing This Way

Index providers often work with large pensions and asset managers, so it’s difficult to surprise us with big numbers. Recently, though, I saw a chart with some staggering sums. I am pasting it below. What is the PRI? This chart shows the investment world’s adoption of the “PRI”, the Principles for Responsible Investment. In 2006, 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 […]

Rising Rates Revisited…

The prospect for and ramifications of rising interest rates have surfaced time and again in recent years. Whether and when the Fed will raise rates next is anyone’s guess. But as we’ve noted before, the correlation between higher interest rates and equity declines has grown tenuous in recent history.  Since 1991, the S&P 500 has Read more […]