Blurred Lines: Institutional Adoption of Alternative Beta

Over the recent years, the traditional divide between passive and active management has become increasingly blurred. In particular, institutional investors have shown growing interests in so call “alternative beta” or “smart beta” strategies that aim to deliver better risk adjusted performance than the market by taking active bets on systematic risk factors, while retaining the Read more […]

Inside the S&P 500: What makes a Company U.S.?

The S&P 500 is an index of U.S. companies.  But, exactly what a U.S. company is can be complicated.  Traditionally being U.S. company meant being incorporated in the US. However, in the last few years companies that many think of as being American are not incorporated here.  Nielsen Holding, the company which compiles ratings of Read more […]

Defaulted Municipal Bonds Outperform!

Hard to fathom isn’t it!  With 2013 municipal bond default and bankruptcy headlines casting a dark cloud over the municipal bond market, defaulted bonds actually have been up.  The overall performance of defaulted municipal bonds during this time has been positive as the S&P Municipal Bond Defaulted Index has returned a positive 2.79% year to Read more […]

4 Benefits Offered by Preferred Securities

Preferred stocks can offer investors greater assurances than common shares in terms of both knowing that they will receive the dividend payment and knowing what the dividend amount will be.  Since preferred securities are higher in seniority than common equities, dividends must be paid to preferred shareholders before common shareholders.  Also, since most preferreds provide Read more […]

What Me Worry?

U.S. Stocks are up by about a quarter since the start of the year with 472 of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 up since December 31st, 2012.  IPOs are getting attention following the successful launch of Twitter.  And more commentators and gurus are arguing for further gains, a coming collapse or both. Should Read more […]

Strong as Steel: Impacts of New Futures

This morning I was interviewed for CCTV2 on the impact of new futures markets with a focus on iron ore. Although Iron ore is not in the major indices, the DJ-UBS and S&P GSCI, it is an economically significant commodity that is the main input for steel. I thought you might be interested in the Read more […]

Coupon Type Counts In Regard To Preferred Index Performance

Preferred indices started the year with some very strong returns. First quarter 2013 saw the S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index (TR) return 3.13%. By the end of April, the overall index was up 4.40% year-to-date while the floating rate component of the index, as measured by the S&P U.S. Floating Rate Preferred Stock Index (TR), Read more […]

QE and Asset Prices

In an earlier post on this blog, Bluford Putnam (of the CME Group) correctly points out that the Fed’s much-discussed three rounds of Quantitative Easing (QE 1-2-3) haven’t created either jobs or inflation.  While job growth has picked up somewhat this year, both payroll employment and the unemployment rate have not recovered to their pre-crisis Read more […]

5 Risks Associated With Investing in Preferreds

Due to their hybrid nature, the potential risks of preferred securities are related to the interest rate environment, issuer’s credit quality and liquidity. Interest Rate Risk: Due to their bond-like fixed dividend payments, preferreds are vulnerable to changes in interest rates.  There is an inverse relationship between preferred prices and changes in interest rates.  In Read more […]

How Much Popularity Can Low Volatility Stand?

The low volatility anomaly — i.e., the tendency for low-volatility or low-beta portfolios to outperform market averages — has been the subject of at least 40 years of academic research.  Given its challenge to what “everyone knows” about risk and return, it’s a fertile field for both professors and practitioners, some of whom recently characterized Read more […]