Category Archives: Investment

Euro Fears Rise, Equities Fall

European drama is certainly back in the minds of market participants. Futures took a sharp dive lower at 4 AM ET this morning after economic data pointed to a weakening Euro-Zone. Specifically, Germany Manufacturing PMI slumped to its lowest level … Continue reading

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Wait For The Opportunity

The S&P 500 closed out the session on Friday right in the middle of the range I’ve indicated on the chart below (quantitative, not technical); giving up the most of it’s gains.  With about an 11 handle range from 1372 … Continue reading

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The Year of Reconciliation, Part I

Last year was a very difficult year in terms of investment management; very rarely will I speak in extremes, but 2011 could have been the most challenging year ever. There was, and still is, a confluence of factors too divergent to properly quantify. This created an environment of high volatility; so high that tactical strategies had trouble achieving, and subsequently maintaining, investment gains. “Buy and Hold” has its own issues involving behavioral risk.

This industry is marred with contradictions. Our timeframes are too long and, simultaneously, too short. Investors seek to maximize growth and moderate risk. Our focus is divided between the macroeconomic situation and microeconomic considerations, both of which drive portfolio decisions. Returns are benchmarked variably; on an absolute basis or relative basis depending on the particular day and/or perspective. Continue reading

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The Economic Bifurcation May Be Converging

The high for the S&P in the first half of 2010 was about 1220 toward the end of April. Comparatively, in the first hallf of this year, the S&P hasn’t printed below 1249, yet Gallup’s Economic Confidence index is near its low for the year—and lower than it was at any point in H1 2010. The consumer is weak; corporations are relatively healthy. However, they are not mutually exclusive events. At some point, that gap will have to be closed. It will not be over the course of one summer, but over the next quarter or so, you should expect individual economic situation to factor in to equity market returns. Continue reading

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The Pricing of Risk: Yield Implications

Stop viewing Treasury yields from the perspective of opportunity. For a moment, consider what they imply about the pricing of risk. The concept, “I’m taking on more risk, therefore I need to earn more return” is often misapplied. Perhaps it should be restated as such, “If you take on more risk, in order to justify that additional risk, your return needs be higher to the less risky investment just to be equivalent.” Continue reading

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Of Course We Won’t Have QE3

The Fed has done its job; and monetary policy has run its course. However, the economy is still soft and requires additional support–that is, more fiscal stimulus. The budget proposal in which every dollar the debt ceiling is raised, there will be as much or more cut from future spending, seems rather appropriate. It allows for the continued near-term support the economy needs, yet addresses the long-term structural issues. This is the only measure that will be helpful to today’s economy. But depending on the resolution of this issue, the Federal Reserve, in an act of desperation, may attempt to replace the lack of fiscal response. This may include an extended-extended Fed Funds Rate or some other plan that has not yet been laid out. It is very unlikely additional monetary measures will be effective. The economy requires an extremely long time to heal and tough choices need to be made at inopportune times. Continue reading

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Twading: The Twitter Revolution

In a previous post, I had mentioned algorithmic trading based on Twitter commentary.  While I don’t think this is the easiest route to quantitative glory, it represents the convergence of finance and technology.  Bloomberg Insights has the following visual: For … Continue reading

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The Risk of the Unknown: A New Perspective on Equities

The objective of these viewpoints is to question commonly accepted pillars of financial advice. So I took notice when Consuelo Mack interviewed Lubos Pastor, Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago. Pastor recently completed research stating that stocks become more risky over longer investment horizons. His research takes the investor point of view (i.e. forward looking and accounting for uncertainty) rather than a historical (i.e. backward looking) point of view. Furthermore, he suggests that the 7% annualized real return stocks experienced during the last century–based on Jeremy Siegel’s analysis–is uncommonly high with several lucky events bolstering that figure. Pastor’s final pearl of wisdom suggests that human capital should play a significant role in portfolio construction. Continue reading

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A Redefined Landscape Requires An Updated Map

Imagine creating a map 250 million years ago during the supercontinent phase of Pangaea. You are probably long overdue for an update. Similarly, there is a paradigm shift that is taking place among the investment management community. It is evolving slowly and growing out of necessity. Let’s refer to these strategies as “traditional” and “new normal.” I only suggest “new normal” because it is an already popularized phrase used to describe a time period with a new landscape. The difference between portfolio strategy from the traditional perspective and the new normal perspective is constraint; time constraint, weight constraint and, most importantly, mental constraint.

With time constraint, I’m referring to holding periods with long-term philosophies. With weight constraint, I’m referring to maximum mandated percentages of particular holdings or asset classes. What establishes the prior two obstacles is an emphasis on history; an emphasis that constrains the possibility of what a portfolio structure should resemble in the future. If this is a new normal economic period, it stands to reason that portfolio strategy should be redefined as well. Continue reading

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The Individual Investor is at a Disadvantage

In the following video, Michael Lewis, author of “The Big Short,” delivers his personal experience with investment management during the financial crisis. He describes the inherent conflict of interest investment banks have because of their dual roles as both client advisors and proprietary traders. Continue reading

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