Tag Archives: Craig Lazzara

Jan 4, 2021

Persistence

Lyndon Baines Johnson became President of the United States at a moment of national trauma, and left office at a time of tremendous political division. Despite a landslide electoral victory in 1964 and notable legislative achievements, his was not a happy presidency. LBJ observed, in fact, that “being President is like being a jackass in…

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Dec 9, 2020

The Distribution of Alpha

Investment management is a zero sum game. The source of outperformance for a market’s outperformers is the underperformance of the same market’s underperformers. Properly measured, the weighted average sum of the winners’ gains is exactly equal (before costs) to the weighted average sum of the losers’ losses. This identity, along with the professionalization of the…

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Dec 1, 2020

The Dangers of Extrapolation

The contrasts between the first 10 months of 2020 and the month of November were vivid. Consider: At the end of October, the year-to-date total return of the S&P 500® was barely positive (2.77%), but was well ahead of the returns of the S&P MidCap 400® (-6.63%) and the S&P SmallCap 600® (-13.06%). In November,…

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Nov 10, 2020

Why Cap Weighting?

Journalists and others occasionally offer comparisons of capitalization-weighted index funds with other weighting schemes. Some of these efforts are more useful than others, but none, in my experience, identify the question that cap-weighted indices were initially designed to answer, and which accounts for their enduring economic significance. That question is, simply put: What is the…

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Oct 7, 2020

Not a Coincidence

We recently issued our mid-year SPIVA® reports for the U.S., Australia, and Europe, and other regions will follow in due course. Although one can sometimes find exceptions in the short run, the long-term results of SPIVA can be easily summarized: The majority of active managers underperform most of the time. Historical success does not predict…

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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 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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Jul 20, 2020

Performance Trickery, part 4

As a potential investor, would you be impressed by the pattern of fund returns summarized in Exhibit 1?  (I would be.) Exhibit 1. Portfolio and Benchmark Cumulative Returns Over the course of 15 years, the portfolio in question notched a total return of 69%, versus only 50% for its benchmark.  The accumulation of added value…

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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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May 12, 2020

Factors and Factor Indices

There is a subtle but important distinction between factors and factor indices.  “Factor” denotes an attribute with which long-term excess returns are thought to be associated.  Fama and French, for instance, famously found that small size and cheap valuation were factors in this sense.  A number of other variables – prominently including momentum, low volatility,…

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