Tag Archives: S&P 500

Bond Funds Unbound

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal offered a profile of fixed income investors who aim to “break [the] chains” by which they are supposedly confined by index benchmarks. As the bond market falters, investors are seeking shelter in funds that aren’t tied to indexes.  These bonds funds are known as “unconstrained,” “go-anywhere,” “absolute return” or “flexible” funds, Read more […]

Coming Soon to a Dictionary Near You

It may have been 30 years ago, in the early days of stock index futures, that the verb “equitize” (and its cognate noun, “equitization“) came into relatively common use.  The term, if Dr. Johnson will forgive me, meant “to provide equity returns without purchasing equity securities.”  Typically this was accomplished by buying S&P 500 futures — if I Read more […]

Core / Satellite Investment Strategies: Don’t Forget The Beta!

Traditional Core/Satellite investment strategies typically combine a diversified asset allocation framework with a smaller alpha-seeking segment of the portfolio.  With an increased emphasis being placed by many investment advisors on so-called “tactical” managers, as well as other “alpha-generating” trades, it’s not surprising, though somewhat disappointing, that simple beta often gets ignored.  In a year when Read more […]

Stock Picker’s Market?

This morning’s Wall Street Journal cites an adviser who opines that “the current stock market environment favors…active fund managers, who pick individual stocks in an attempt to beat broad market indices.”  This immediately raises the question of how to define a stock picker’s market, and how to determine whether today’s conditions are more auspicious for Read more […]

You Take My “Breadth” Away

An overview of the market shows that breadth, the number of issues up compared to the number down, is running very strong this year.  Year-to-date (YTD), 451 of the S&P 500 issues are up (47 down), which on an annual basis is the best since 458 issues increased in 2003.  The 2003 number is also Read more […]

A Simple Hedge Strategy

Alternative investments for high net worth investors are like the weather — everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.  In fairness, alternative investments — hedge funds, private equity, and the like — are often hard to access and complicated to explain.  But if they can deliver on their promise of uncorrelated Read more […]

Passive Risk Management

In major cities at this time of year, an army of street vendors bristling with umbrellas await their chance to emerge in entrepreneurial fervour, providing tourists and commuters alike with immediate respite from unanticipated rain. It’s a viable business strategy: the chaotic nature of weather means that occasional rainfall remains practically impossible to predict*, hence Read more […]

Tapering Away

Next week the Federal Open Market Committee, meeting for the first time since July, is widely expected to announce the tapering of its quantitative easing program.  Whether the Fed begins to reduce its bond purchases now or later this year, most observers recognize its inevitability.  Indeed, as we’ve noted before, even the anticipation of tapering Read more […]

Commodity Beta: Hogs-Wild? Hardly. Energy Fills the Thrill!

If you believe the S&P 500, which is market cap weighted, is considered the U.S. stock market beta, then the S&P GSCI, which is world-production weighted (analogous to market cap weighted), is the logical choice for commodity beta.  Typically, using an index, namely the S&P 500, as the benchmark for beta is standard practice in Read more […]

Beta, Smart and Dumb

The idea of “smart beta” is gaining increased acceptance, although not without some controversy.  I have to confess that I really dislike the term “smart beta,” and not just because I didn’t invent it.  “Alternative beta” I can live with, or “factor” indices, or “strategy” indices — but “smart” beta leaves me cold. Which is Read more […]