Tag Archives: Correlations

Dec 2, 2019

Stock Pickers: Hope Springs Eternal

The Wall Street Journal recently quoted several active managers who claim that “conditions for stock picking are improving”. Their rationale is that declining correlations among stocks in the S&P 500 have made it easier for active managers to select stocks based on fundamental analysis. We have heard this argument before, most notably in 2014 when,…

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Jun 4, 2019

Not Melting Yet

Despite the hovering cloud of geopolitical menace as we entered 2019, the U.S. equity market enjoyed an almost seamless rise through the first four months of the year. May’s retreat reacquainted investors with volatility and served as a reminder that the market is near all-time highs, having enjoyed a more or less sustained increase for…

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Jan 23, 2019

A Little Bit of Low Vol Can Go a Long Way

The fourth quarter of 2018 was pretty turbulent for global equities.  Volatility and correlations rose, the majority of the S&P Global BMI’s 48 country constituents declined by double digits, recent darlings among factor strategies (momentum and growth) lagged, and the S&P 500’s 13.52% quarterly plunge left the benchmark with its first calendar-year loss in a…

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Jan 6, 2019

Volatile but Not Necessarily Disastrous

In 2018, the S&P 500 declined for the first time in 10 years. The year’s 4% decline is obviously de minimis compared to 2008’s 37% plunge, though investors may feel it more keenly since the fourth quarter’s 14% decline erased what had been a profitable year.  Nonetheless, the risk landscape changed dramatically in 2018 compared…

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Oct 11, 2018

Breaking Down Volatility

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” – Sherlock Holmes (in “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”) Despite yesterday’s hand wringing loss for equity markets— the S&P 500 dropped 3.3%—the index is still up 5.8% year to date 2018. Nevertheless, losing in one day a third of what the equity market…

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Mar 26, 2018

No Longer Calm but Not Chaotic

Although market volatility has retreated somewhat since the spike in early February, it has remained elevated. In the last 30 trading sessions, the S&P 500 moved by more than 1% (in either direction) 14 times. VOLATILITY FOR S&P 500 (21-Day Rolling) Volatility manifests itself in both dispersion (a measure of the magnitude of differences among…

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Feb 6, 2018

Vectors of Volatility

Risk is once again part of investors’ vocabulary. Through yesterday’s close, the S&P 500 lost a total of 6%, made all the more jarring by the practically straight line rise in most of 2018 prior to the losses. Volatility has, of course, ticked up, but in the context of the broader 27 year history, not…

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Jan 2, 2018

2017…Among the Sleepiest of Years

If 2016 was unremarkable, 2017 was downright sleepy…at least as far as equity markets were concerned. In 2017, the S&P 500 notched the lowest level of volatility in 27 years. Both dispersion and correlations were among the lowest levels in the same period. This is in spite of a year that was far from lacking…

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Dec 18, 2017

2017: A Selection of Highlights

As we rapidly approach Christmas and New Year (not to mention year-end evaluations) it seems fitting to reflect on what happened in 2017.  We will publish our regional month-end dashboards on December 29 (interested parties may sign up here).  Before then, here are a few highlights using data as of December 15. Volatility was historically…

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Jun 2, 2016

Divining Brexit

The markets’ view of the pending British referendum on EU membership displays the hallmarks of a low probability, high impact event.  Correlations, and volatility expectations, are the key indicators. When macroeconomic risk is dominant, as a select few narratives come to preoccupy investors, correlations increase.  For example, in August and September 2015, markets worldwide were roiled…

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