Category Archives: Strategy

Emerging Markets: Don’t Panic!

Currencies and equities across various countries classified as “emerging” have come under increased scrutiny in the past few weeks, with more excitable commentators seeing signs of a crisis. Should broad-based index followers be worried? Perhaps not. On the one hand, the tapering of U.S. quantitative easing has triggered flights of “hot money” from countries (like Turkey) that Read more […]

Why U.S. Investors Are Turning to Europe

The New York-listed iShares Europe 350 ETF has more than doubled in size in the past six months; the front page of last Friday’s Financial Times reported that U.S. purchases of European equities have surged, while the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that “Europe is back.” European equities have underperformed U.S. equities by around 45% Read more […]

What’s a Normal VIX Level?

Someone asked me this last week: “What’s a normal or typical VIX level?”  That’s a good question.  Here is the answer: 20.2. And 17.1. And also 13.0. Before I go into why it takes at least three numbers to answer this question, let me remind you that the history of the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) Read more […]

Where VIX Comes From

At work, I am sometimes asked this simple but challenging question: “Where does VIX come from?”  There is a reason I am asked this – I am our company’s product manager for volatility indices.  But I admit that I have struggled to come up with an approachable way to explain the methodology of the CBOE Read more […]

Dispersion and Correlation: Which is “Better?”

We recently introduced the concept of dispersion, which measures the average difference between the return of an index and the return of each of the index’s components.  In times of high dispersion, the gap between the best performers and the worst performers is relatively wide; when dispersion is low, the performance gap narrows.  Today’s dispersion Read more […]

Low Dispersion Implies Low Value Added

Understanding a market’s dispersion provides important insights into its internal dynamics and the opportunities and pitfalls that might await both active and passive investors.  Dispersion measures the average difference between the return of an index and the return of each of the index’s components.  In times of high dispersion, the gap between the best performers Read more […]

Voting with Their Feet

Despite superb returns for the equity markets across the developed world, 2013 was a tough year for active managers.  While the average hedge fund recorded fairly solid gains over the year, such performance paled in comparison to the rampant equity markets.  It was also a year that saw historic lows for the potential returns available Read more […]

Why Bubbles Aren’t as Dangerous Today

Both the surprisingly strong 2013 US stock market performance and the surging rebound in US home prices are sparking fears of another round bursting bubbles among many investors and market pundits.  While we don’t know the chances that either stocks or home prices will plunge in 2014, the collateral damage from either will be less Read more […]

ETFs poised to overtake Hedge Funds in 2014

If current trends continue, 2014 will herald a significant milestone for the ETF and hedge fund industries, as the total amount of capital invested in the former threatens to overtake the latter. Hedge funds search relentlessly to deliver on a promise of alpha while their privileged investors – supplying notoriously high fees and the tactical Read more […]

Two Dimensions of Risk

Investors have long regarded the market’s overall level of volatility as an indication of its riskiness.  The S&P 500 VIX Index, in particular, is often referred to as a “fear gauge” for U.S. equities since it tends to rise when investors are nervous and to fall when the markets are quiescent. Although S&P 500 VIX Read more […]