Tag Archives: 2020

Nov 20, 2020

The Market Is Up, But So Is Volatility

So far, 2020 has brought us a global pandemic, a coordinated global economic shutdown, and, in the U.S., a notably contentious election. So it’s no surprise that volatility has been, and remains, elevated. Despite all this, equities have fared reasonably (some would say surprisingly) well, with the S&P 500® climbing 13% through Nov. 19 since…

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Sep 21, 2020

Sectors and Electors

Markets expect elevated volatility surrounding the U.S. Presidential election, now just six weeks away. The VIX futures curve currently peaks in November, but as long ago as April a close observer could detect expectations of electoral volatility. Increased volatility may create an unusual opportunity for sector allocators. To understand why, we need to remember that…

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Sep 18, 2020

Holding Steady…

The market has recovered most of the losses from March’s uproar, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index down 4.8% in 2020 through Sept. 17. Volatility, though off its March peak, continues to be high but has been evenly distributed across all sectors of the market. Since all sectors experienced similar increases in volatility, it’s not surprising…

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Sep 17, 2020

What Would Emerging Markets Be Without China?

In the first decade of the 2000s, the U.S. and other developed countries fell behind emerging market equities by a wide margin, and they lagged China’s markets in particular: the S&P China BMI grew by 600% in the first decade of the new millennium. The 2010s saw a reversal of fortunes for broad-based emerging market…

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Sep 15, 2020

Courage vs. Comfort

Philosophers have long argued that courage is the most essential human virtue, because without courage, all other virtues lie in jeopardy. Remarkably, the theorizing of ethicists has an implication for practical portfolio management. We can illustrate this with a simple example in Exhibit 1. It’s Dec. 31, 1999, and a professional investor is considering buying…

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Sep 14, 2020

Not Your Father’s Tech Sector

As of the end of August 2020, the S&P 500® Information Technology sector had risen a remarkable 36% YTD. Such outstanding relative performance of course reminds us of the late 1990s, when the markets experienced a technology bubble and subsequent bust. One notable resemblance to the late 1990s is Information Technology’s weight in the S&P…

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Aug 18, 2020

S&P 500 and the U.S. Presidential Election

2020 has certainly been an extremely unusual year as economies, companies and individuals have grappled with the impacts of COVID-19.  Although this year’s market movements have arguably been even more difficult to predict than usual, and many active managers were wrong-footed earlier this year, investment outlooks have kept at least one eye on the outcome…

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Jul 27, 2020

Observing a Regime Change

In politics, “regime change” denotes the replacement of one governmental structure with another; in economics, we use the same term to indicate a shift in the interactions of various parts of the economic or financial system. Political regime changes are easy to identify (after all, a military coup is hard to miss).  Defining when an…

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Jul 9, 2020

A Conundrum in a Different Key

Volatility, dispersion, and correlation are elements of what we’ve elsewhere characterized as The Active Manager’s Conundrum. Active managers should prefer: Low volatility, which is typically associated with higher returns High dispersion, which means a larger payoff for correct stock selections High correlation, which reduces the opportunity cost of a concentrated portfolio The conundrum arises because…

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Jun 25, 2020

Making Sense of the Active Manager’s Conundrum

Why are the market environments most conducive to generating positive absolute returns the least conducive to producing positive relative returns? Explore the active manager’s conundrum with S&P DJI’s Craig Lazzara and Anu Ganti.

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