Calculating Supply Chain Climate Exposure

By |June 28th, 2022|ESG, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

To manage climate risks, investors need reliable climate exposure metrics. This need is particularly acute for climate risks along the supply chain, where such risks are recognized as important, but difficult to measure. We propose an intuitive metric that quantifies the exposure a company has to customers, or suppliers, who may in turn be exposed to climate risks. We show that such risks are not captured by traditional climate data. For example, a company may seem green on a standalone basis, but may still have meaningful, and potentially material, climate risk exposure if it has customers, or suppliers, whose activities could be impaired by transition or physical climate risks. Our metric is related to scope 3 emissions and may help capture economic activities such as emissions offshoring. However, while scope 3 focuses on products sold to customers and supplies sourced from suppliers, our metric captures the strength of economic linkages and the overall climate exposure of a firm’s customers and suppliers. Importantly, the data necessary to compute our measure is broadly accessible and is arguably of a higher quality than the currently available scope 3 data. As such, our metric’s intuitive definition and transparency may be particularly appealing for investors.

Can Machine Learning Identify Future Outperforming Active Equity Funds?

By |June 23rd, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Machine Learning, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research|

We show, using machine learning, that fund characteristics can consistently differentiate high from low-performing mutual funds, as well as identify funds with net-of-fees abnormal returns. Fund momentum and fund flow are the most important predictors of future risk-adjusted fund performance, while characteristics of the stocks that funds hold are not predictive. Returns of predictive long-short portfolios are higher following a period of high sentiment or a good state of the macro-economy. Our estimation with neural networks enables us to uncover novel and substantial interaction effects between sentiment and both fund flow and fund momentum.

Using Institutional Investor’s Trading Data in Factors

By |June 22nd, 2022|Insider and Smart Money, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

The authors investigate how the interaction between entries and exits of informed institutional investors and market anomaly signals affects strategy performance. The long legs of anomalies earn more positive alphas following entries, whereas the short legs earn more negative alphas following exits. The enhanced anomaly-based strategies of buying stocks in the long legs of anomalies with entries and shorting stocks in the short legs with exits outperform the original anomalies, with an increase of 19–54 bps per month in the Fama–French five-factor alpha. The entries and exits of institutional investors capture informed trading and earnings surprises, thereby enhancing the anomalies.

Arbitrage and the Trading Costs of ETFs

By |June 16th, 2022|Transaction Costs, Research Insights, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight, ETF Investing|

This article examines ETF creations and redemptions around price deviations and finds that the expected arbitrage trades are relatively rare in a broad sample of equity index ETFs. In the absence of these trades, price deviations persist much longer. Creation and redemption activity appears to be constrained when exchange conditions would lead to a costlier arbitrage trade, and the size of the price deviations mainly impact the likelihood rather than the amount of trading. The authors also find some evidence that creations and redemptions are less likely to trade on price deviations when they would be required to trade the underlying stocks against broad market movements. Their results suggest that several factors may discourage the built-in ETF arbitrage mechanism and that investors may receive poorer trade execution in these conditions as a result.

Factors Investing in Cryptocurrency

By |June 13th, 2022|Crypto, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

We find that three factors—cryptocurrency market, size, and momentum—capture the cross-sectional expected cryptocurrency returns. We consider a comprehensive list of price- and market-related return predictors in the stock market and construct their cryptocurrency counterparts. Ten cryptocurrency characteristics form successful long-short strategies that generate sizable and statistically significant excess returns, and we show that all of these strategies are accounted for by the cryptocurrency three-factor model. Lastly, we examine potential underlying mechanisms of the cryptocurrency size and momentum effects.

Do Connections Pay Off in the Bitcoin Market?

By |June 6th, 2022|Crypto, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

This paper identifies the bitcoin investor network and studies the relationship between connections and returns. Using transaction data recorded in the bitcoin blockchain from 2015 to 2020, we reach three conclusions. First, connectedness is not strongly correlated with higher returns in the first four years. However, the correlation becomes strong and significant in 2019 and Second, returns also differ among those connected addresses. By dividing the connected addresses into ten decile groups based on their centrality, we find that the top 20% most connected addresses earn higher returns than their peers during most of our sample period. Third, eigenvector centrality is more related to higher returns than degree centrality for the top 20% most-connected addresses, implying that the quality of connections may matter more than quantity among those highly connected addresses.

Short-term Momentum

By |June 3rd, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight, Momentum Investing Research|

We document a striking pattern in U.S. and international stock returns: double sorting on the previous month’s return and share turnover reveals significant short-term reversal among low-turnover stocks, whereas high-turnover stocks exhibit short-term momentum. Short-term momentum is as profitable and as persistent as conventional price momentum. It survives transaction costs and is strongest among the largest, most liquid, and most extensively covered stocks. Our results are difficult to reconcile with models imposing strict rationality but are suggestive of an explanation based on some traders underappreciating the information conveyed by prices.

Options Hedging & Leveraged ETFs in Market Swings

By |June 1st, 2022|Options, Research Insights, Guest Posts, Academic Research Insight, ETF Investing|

Earlier this year, GameStop stock rose like crazy in only a few hours with the effects of broker-dealer options hedging spurred by retail investor buying pressure. And from February to March 2020, options trading activity was also pointed to as a contributor to stock swings in the Covid-19 selloff. The market dropped 30% and then recovered quickly over the following weeks. It has been documented that the need for market makers to hedge their positions with options (given rapid changes in stock prices) can contribute to market and stock price swings. However, might there be other factors also at play in these types of stock and market fluctuations? 

Is There a Gender Gap in Kickstarter Campaigns?

By |May 31st, 2022|ESG, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

This study focuses on the launch phase of the leading reward-based crowdfunding market—Kickstarter. It documents the behavior of male and female entrepreneurs in raising early stage capital. We find that women share as entrepreneurs in the platform (34.7%) does not equal to their share in the overall population, and they are concentrated in stereotyped sectors, both as entrepreneurs and as backers. We also find that women do not set lower funding goals than men, they enjoy higher rates of success than men, even after controlling for project categories and funding goals, and that backers of both genders have a tendency to fund entrepreneurs of their own gender. Our survey of Kickstarter backers finds evidence of taste-based discrimination by male backers.

Strategies to Mitigate Tail Risk

By |May 26th, 2022|Quality Investing, Crisis Alpha, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Momentum Investing Research|

Investors care about more than just returns. They also care about risk. Thus, prudent investors include consideration of strategies that can provide at least some protection against adverse events that lead to left tail risk (portfolios crashing). The cost of that protection (the impact on expected returns) must play an important role in deciding whether to include them. For example, buying at-the-money puts, a strategy that eliminates downside risk, should have returns no better than the risk-free rate of return, making that a highly expensive strategy.

How Race Influences Asset Allocation Decisions

By |May 23rd, 2022|ESG, Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight, Machine Learning|

Of the $69.1 trillion global financial assets under management across mutual funds, hedge funds, real estate, and private equity, fewer than 1.3% are managed by women and people of color. Why is this powerful, elite industry so racially homogenous? We conducted an online experiment with actual asset allocators to determine whether there are biases in their evaluations of funds led by people of color, and, if so, how these biases manifest. We asked asset allocators to rate venture capital funds based on their evaluation of a 1-page summary of the fund’s performance history, in which we manipulated the race of the managing partner (White or Black) and the strength of the fund’s credentials (stronger or weaker). Asset allocators favored the White-led, racially homogenous team when credentials were stronger, but the Black-led, racially diverse team when credentials were weaker. Moreover, asset allocators’ judgments of the team’s competence were more strongly correlated with predictions about future performance (e.g., money raised) for racially homogenous teams than for racially diverse teams. Despite the apparent preference for racially diverse teams at weaker performance levels, asset allocators did not express a high likelihood of investing in these teams. These results suggest first that underrepresentation of people of color in the realm of investing is not only a pipeline problem, and second, that funds led by people of color might paradoxically face the most barriers to advancement after they have established themselves as strong performers.

Trend Following: Timing Fast and Slow Trends

By |May 19th, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Momentum Investing Research|

A large body of evidence demonstrates that momentum, including time-series momentum (trend following), has improved portfolio efficiency. Research has found that there are a few ways to improve on simple trend-following strategies. Techniques that have been found to improve Sharpe ratios and reduce tail risk include volatility scaling and combining fast and slow signals as well as combining long-term reversals. These have been incorporated by many fund managers into investment strategies. Cheng, Kostyuchyk, Lee, Liu and Ma provided evidence that machine learning could be used to further improve results. With that said, a word of caution on the use of machine learning is warranted. The powerful tools and the easy access to data now available to researchers create the risk that machine learning studies will find correlations that have no causation and thus the findings could be nothing more than a result of torturing the data. To minimize that risk, it is important that findings not only have rational risk- or behavioral-based explanations for believing the patterns identified will persist in the future, but they also should be robust to many tests. In this case, investors could feel more confident in the results if their findings were robust to international equities and other asset classes (such as bonds, commodities and currencies).

Form 3 and Form 4 Alpha: Focus on What Insiders Don’t Trade

By |May 16th, 2022|Insider and Smart Money, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

Some individuals, e.g., those holding multiple directorships, are insiders at multiple firms. When they execute an insider trade at one firm, they may reveal information about the value of all—both the traded insider position and not-traded insider position(s)—the securities held in their “insider portfolio.” We find that insider “not-sold” stocks outperform “not-bought” stocks. Implementable trading strategies that buy not-sold stocks following the disclosure of a sale earn alphas up to 4.8% per year after trading costs. The results suggest that even insider sales that are motivated by liquidity and diversification needs can provide value-relevant information about insider holdings.

Institutions Trading Against Anomalies: Are Their Trades Informed?

By |May 12th, 2022|Relative Sentiment, Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight|

An interesting question is do the trades of the more sophisticated institutional investors against anomalies provide information on returns? To answer that question, Yangru Wu and Weike Xu, authors of the study “Changes in Ownership Breadth and Capital Market Anomalies,” published in the February 2022 issue of The Journal of Portfolio Management, examined whether the entries and exits of informed institutional investors (or ownership breadth changes) interact with the aforementioned 11 anomaly signals studied by Stambaugh and Yuan can be used to improve the performance of anomaly-based strategies. They explained that they emphasized institutions’ new entries and exits because they could be triggered by private information and correlated with future earnings news, thereby capturing useful information regarding future stock returns. To determine if the trades of the institutional investors were informed, they sorted all stocks into 10 decile portfolios based on quarterly changes in ownership breadth. Their data sample covered all NYSE/AMEX/Nasdaq common stocks from May 1981 to May 2018.

Benefits of Having a Female CFO

By |May 9th, 2022|Research Insights, Women in Finance Know Stuff, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight, Machine Learning|

We examine gender differences in the language of CFOs who participate in quarterly earnings calls. Female executives are more concise and less optimistic, are clearer, use fewer idioms or clichés, and provide more numbers in their speech. These differences are particularly strong in the more spontaneous Questions and Answers (QA) section of the calls and are reflected in stronger market and analyst reactions. Gender differences seem to be associated with CFO overconfidence.

Using Momentum to Find Value

By |May 5th, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Trend Following, Academic Research Insight, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research|

Value and momentum are two of the most powerful explanatory factors in finance. Research on both has been published for about 30 years. However, it was not until recently that the two had been studied in combination and across markets. Bijon Pani and Frank Fabozzi contribute to the literature with their study “Finding Value Using Momentum,” published in The Journal of Portfolio Management Quantitative Special Issue 2022, in which they examined whether using six value metrics that have an established academic background combined with the trend in relative valuations provide better risk-adjusted returns than Fama-French’s traditional HML (high minus low book-to-market ratio) factor. The value metrics chosen were book value-to-market value; cash flow-to-price; earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA)-to-market value; earnings-to-price; profit margin-to-price; and sales-to-price. Using six different measures provides tests of robustness, minimizing the risk of data mining. However with so many dials to turn there is a risk of achieving positive returns that aren't material or achieving postive results with the potential for overfitting.

The Future of Factor Investing

By |May 2nd, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight|

In this article, the author discusses current structural research and investment trends that are shaping the future of factor investing. Specifically, the author focuses on three emerging trends: the ongoing evolution of traditional factor models and strategies, recent innovation in data sources and modeling techniques, and the potential disruption from integrating factor strategies into the asset allocation process.

Betting Against Beta: New Insights

By |April 28th, 2022|Research Insights, Factor Investing, Larry Swedroe, Academic Research Insight, Value Investing Research, Momentum Investing Research, Low Volatility Investing|

The intuition behind betting against beta is that leverage-constrained investors, instead of applying leverage, obtain an expected return higher than the market’s expected return through overweighting high-beta stocks and underweighting low-beta stocks in their portfolios. Their actions lower future risk-adjusted returns on high-beta stocks and increase future risk-adjusted returns on low-beta stocks. We take a deeper look into this idea.

Did Covid-19 Change how We Shop?

By |April 25th, 2022|Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight, Macroeconomics Research|

We study e-commerce across 47 economies and 26 industries during the COVID-19 pandemic using aggregated and anonymized transaction-level data from Mastercard, scaled to represent total consumer spending. The share of online transactions in total consumption increased more in economies with higher pre-pandemic e-commerce shares, exacerbating the digital divide across economies. Overall, the latest data suggest that these spikes in online spending shares are dissipating at the aggregate level, though there is variation across industries. In particular, the share of online spending in professional services and recreation has fallen below its pre-pandemic trend, but we observe a longer-lasting shift to digital in retail and restaurants.

Can Market Maker Capital Constraints Result in Mispricing of ETFs?

By |April 18th, 2022|Research Insights, Basilico and Johnsen, Academic Research Insight, ETF Investing|

Capital constraints of financial intermediaries can affect liquidity provision. We investigate whether these constraints spillover and consequently cause contagion in the degree of market efficiency across assets managed by a common intermediary. Specifically, we provide evidence of strong comovement in pricing gaps between ETFs and their constituents for ETFs served by the same lead market maker (LMM). The effects are stronger for ETFs that are more illiquid and volatile, when the underlying constituents of the ETFs are more costly to arbitrage, and for LMMs with more constrained capital. Using extreme disruptions in debt markets during COVID-19 as an experiment, we show that non-fixed income ETFs serviced by LMMs managing a larger fraction of fixed income ETFs experience greater pricing gaps. Overall, our results indicate that intermediaries’ constraints indeed influence comovements in pricing efficiencies.

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