Tag Archives: volatility

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 […]

Taking Risk and Making Money

My colleagues, Daniel Ung and Xiaowei Kang, recently published an article on alternative commodity strategies. Below is an intro and some highlights: “Ever since the publication of Professor Harry Markowitz’s work in 1952, modern portfolio theory has been one of the cornerstones of asset allocation and portfolio construction. Until recently, the principal building blocks used to Read more […]

Volquakes

Volatility can feel like an earthquake. As many investors can painfully testify, the chart below is typical of volatility.  A period of relative calm is disturbed first by a few small tremors, then by a precipitous rise.  At this point, risk breaks all connections with its normal level and climbs rapidly to a crystalized zenith Read more […]

Strong as Steel: Impacts of New Futures

This morning I was interviewed for CCTV2 on the impact of new futures markets with a focus on iron ore. Although Iron ore is not in the major indices, the DJ-UBS and S&P GSCI, it is an economically significant commodity that is the main input for steel. I thought you might be interested in the Read more […]

How Much Popularity Can Low Volatility Stand?

The low volatility anomaly — i.e., the tendency for low-volatility or low-beta portfolios to outperform market averages — has been the subject of at least 40 years of academic research.  Given its challenge to what “everyone knows” about risk and return, it’s a fertile field for both professors and practitioners, some of whom recently characterized 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 […]

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 […]

Turn VIX into information you can use

Most people think of VIX as simply an index.  This makes sense — the “I” in VIX stands for that very word.  But VIX is more useful than your average index.  It could easily be grouped with economic indicators, like the unemployment percentage or new home sales.  Why?  Because the VIX level — not just Read more […]

Good Calls and Bad Calls of Covered Calls

Generally investors use covered calls to earn extra income from investments they think might not have much upside potential.  For example, if a CEO has a very large stock holding in his or her company but doubts the stock price will increase (or decrease much), writing (selling) options on the stock to collect a premium Read more […]

A Conventional Down Month

Whenever you want to argue that rising interest rates are bad for the stock market, count June 2013 as a point in your favor.  The long end of the US Treasury yield curve notched a -4.07% decline in June (following May’s -6.71% tumble), as rates on the S&P/BGCantor 20+ Year US Treasury Index rose by 66 Read more […]