How do you know if an ETF is truly passive? A formulaic approach to ETF identification

The acronym “ETF” was once a reliable term to identify exchange traded funds using passive investment strategies, specifically those tracking transparent, rules based independently calculated indices.  “Today, the ETF acronym is being used broadly by the fund industry and media outlets to include non-fund product structures and active management strategies”[1].   Furthermore “active ETFs stand out Read more […]

War Risk

Russia and the Ukraine are dominating trading around the world since last Friday. The charts show the losses and rebound in the stock markets and currencies in the Ukraine and Russia.  The bounce back reflects both a seemingly more moderate comment from Russian President Putin on Tuesday morning as well as the markets pausing after Read more […]


It is no surprise that now might be the perfect environment for brewing commodities.   The S&P GSCI was up 4.5% in February and was in backwardation for the first time in February since 2004. In 2004, the S&P GSCI returned 17.3%. 22 of 24 commodities in the S&P GSCI were positive in February. All 5 sectors were positive, led by agriculture, Read more […]

International events take the front seat

Due to the political issues surrounding Russia and the Ukraine, the yield of the 10-Treasury as measured by the S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index tightened by 8 basis points over the course of the last week of February.  The index returned 0.39% for the month as the year-to-date is now a 3.94%. Investors Read more […]

Targets and Tantrums at the Fed

Goal oriented monetary policy and hidden sources of volatility, discussed at the US Monetary Policy Forum last Friday, sparked articles in the New York Times, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. With investors seeking income in bond and money markets while nervously watching for when Fed policy will shift to Read more […]

Why Size Matters

This morning’s Financial Times revisits the argument that smaller funds generally have a performance advantage over larger funds.  One contention advanced in favor of this view is that as funds grow, they “have” to hold more large-cap stocks, and that this large-cap weighting hurts overall performance: “Outperformance in large-cap companies is harder to achieve because Read more […]

Policy Post Mortems

Complete transcripts of the Fed’s policy meetings and conference calls are published with a five year lag. Last week the central bank released the transcripts from 2008, probably one of the more interesting years to “hear” word for word what the members of the FOMC were saying.  The release was almost to the day the Read more […]

Global Inflation Beta

It is a familiar concept that commodities have provided inflation protection as discussed in a recent post about a discussion I had with Bluford Putnam, Managing Director and Chief Economist, of our partner, CME Group, to discuss why inflation is likely to appear this year. I have also discussed how much inflation protection has been provided in a special video Read more […]


For any investor who has chosen lean hogs as the commodity to invest in 2014, s/he is as “happy as a pig in the index“. The S&P GSCI Lean Hogs are the 3rd best performing commodity in the index YTD, up 16.3%, before the roll.  Even after the roll, the lean hogs are the 5th best Read more […]

A Week of Auctions and Announcements

The S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index closed last week up 0.12%.  January’s Housing Starts number of 880k fell well below the 950k expected number and the prior revised level of 1048k pushing Treasuries up for the week.  The question was how much of the number was due to harsh winter weather or Read more […]