Category Archives: Strategy

A Conventional Down Month

Whenever you want to argue that rising interest rates are bad for the stock market, count June 2013 as a point in your favor.  The long end of the US Treasury yield curve notched a -4.07% decline in June (following May’s -6.71% tumble), as rates on the S&P/BGCantor 20+ Year US Treasury Index rose by 66 Read more […]

Volatility: Love It or Leave It

Investors are rightly concerned about the future course of equity prices, especially in the context of the Federal Reserve’s bruited tapering of QE3, and it’s obviously true that equity market volatility has increased sharply since the beginning of May. Rising volatility typically means lower stock prices — the correlation of the S&P 500 and the Read more […]

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Since roughly the beginning of May, U.S. interest rates have been in an uptrend, with the 10 year Treasury note ending last week at a yield of 2.5%. Equity markets, not surprisingly, have reacted by weakening, especially in last week’s trading. Some of us of a certain age will admit to a degree of bewilderment Read more […]

Q1 Buybacks Slightly Up, But Fewer Shares Repurchased

Q1 Buybacks Slightly Up, But Fewer Shares Repurchased Breakdown shows a broader participation in share count reduction – but it is slow Q1,’13 S&P 500 buyback expenditures slightly increased 0.8%, to $100.0B from $99.1B in Q4,’12, and was up 18.6% for Q1,’12 $84.3B (record was Q2,’07 at $172B). 12 months ending Mar,’13 increased 3.8% to $414.6B from Read more […]

A PIP Off the Old Block

The staff of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently issued an opinion letter discussing the use of “pre-inception index performance (PIP)” data in communications about exchange-traded financial instruments.  Importantly, the letter permits the use of PIP data (i.e., backtested or simulated results) in presentations to institutions (although not to retail investors). No good deed Read more […]

Low Volatility: Success or Failure?

One of the consequences of May’s shift in leadership of the U.S. equity market from defensive to cyclical sectors has been the underperformance of most (if not all) low volatility strategies. Does this mean, as some commentators have suggested (e.g. see http://www.indexuniverse.com/hot-topics/18860-when-low-volatilitty-bites-back.html?showall=&fullart=1&start=4), that low volatility strategies “failed?” Making a judgment of success or failure, about Read more […]

History, Real and Simulated

Show me a man who’s never been burned by relying on a backtest and I’ll show you a man who’s never relied on a backtest at all  (either that or a fictional character).  Skepticism toward backtested results is endemic among investment professionals, and rightly so.  And yet… when a new concept comes along, backtested performance 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 […]

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 […]