Other Insights

Is now a good time to buy bonds?

As pundits wrestle over the cause, implications, and sustainability of the recent massive moves in interest rates, I’ll instead delve into the two terms most often blamed for these shifts in rates: R-star and the Term Structure Premium. Unfortunately, what most want—a measure of them—is unknowable. But we can benefit from understanding the theories and models behind these terms. We can glean guidance on what we need, namely a better understanding of the risks and rewards of buying longer-maturing bonds at current rate levels. I contend that now is a good time to secure future cash flows by buying bonds, although determining the precise amount to invest remains a challenge.

A new twist on momentum strategies: Utilize overlapping momentum portfolios

Momentum investors utilize different timeframes to identify high momentum equities: past 6, 9, 12 months as an example. Obviously, there is a significant degree of overlap in momentum stocks identified across various past time frames. However, there has been little research focused on understanding the characteristics of momentum stocks formed on six and 12 months that overlap one another. The authors refer to the subset as “overlapping” stocks and suggest they constitute the largest proportion of the profitability of the momentum strategy.

Focus on Income Can Undermine Returns: The Case of Covered Calls

Covered calls implemented to deliver higher derivative income should be expected to have (1) lower total returns, (2) higher tax realizations along the path, and (3) a more negatively skewed return profile. Investors who allocate to these strategies for their income alone, without accounting for these other considerations, might have made a devil’s bargain

Is ESG Investing Counterproductive?

The article introduces a concept called "impact elasticity," which measures how a firm's environmental impact changes in response to shifts in its cost of capital (the "E" in "ESG"). It finds that the dominant sustainable investing strategy, which favors green firms and punishes brown firms by altering their cost of capital, can be counterproductive.

The Magnificent Seven

When a small subset of companies makes up a large portion of a portfolio, for better or worse their returns will have a greater impact on overall portfolio results.

The Performance of Major Private Equity/LBO Firms

The claims of superior risk-adjusted performance by the PE industry are exaggerated. Given their lack of liquidity, opaqueness, and greater use of leverage, it seems logical that investors should demand something like a 3-4% IRR premium. Yet, there is no evidence that the industry overall has been able to deliver that.

Organization Capital and the Cross-Section of Expected Returns

This paper focuses on "organization capital," representing intangible assets in a firm's key employees that is not captured by classic value measures such as book-to-market. The authors propose a structural model to analyze the impact of organizational capital on asset prices and argue that shareholders perceive firms with high levels of organizational capital to be riskier than those with more physical capital.

Technology Spillover Impacts Stock Returns

The timelier adoption of new technology and the higher likelihood of large-scale technology adoption make the risk associated with technological innovation more systematic, which in turn increases returns required by investors for technology spillover recipients.

Value versus Values in ESG Investing

The relationship between financial markets and ESG investing is obscured by the lack of clarity regarding motivations for investing in ESG strategies. Is the motive to align the investor’s values with the ESG theme? Or is the ESG term a misnomer for a set of stocks that are systematically undervalued, for some reason as a function of its ESG characteristics? 

Dissecting the Idiosyncratic Volatility Puzzle

Idiosyncratic volatility (IVOL) is the volatility of a security that cannot be explained by overall market volatility—it is the risk unique to a particular security. IVOL contrasts with systematic risk, which is the risk that affects all securities in a market (such as changes in interest rates or inflation) and, therefore cannot be diversified away. On the other hand, the risks of high IVOL stocks can at least be reduced through diversification.

Executives vs. Chatbots in Earnings Conference Q&A

In this study, we introduce a novel measure of information content (Human-AI Differences, HAID) by exploiting the discrepancy between answers to questions at earnings calls provided by corporate executives and those given by several context-preserving Large Language Models (LLM) such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and an open source LLM.

Factor Investors: Momentum is Everywhere

The Jegadeesh and Titman (1993) paper on momentum established that an equity trading strategy consisting of buying past winners and selling past losers, reliably produced risk-adjusted excess returns.  The Jegadeesh results have been replicated in international markets and across asset classes. As this evidence challenged and contradicted widely accepted notions of weak-form market efficiency, the academic community took notice and started churning out research.  As a result, a very large number of academic studies were published on momentum. The article summarized here has conveniently summarized 47 articles deemed as the highest quality and published in either the Journal of Finance, the Review of Financial Studies, or the Journal of Financial Economics, all three considered premier journals in the finance discipline. It is difficult to understate the importance of having a well-curated summary of momentum research. Keep it in your library.

Trend-Following Filters – Part 7

This article examines four digital filters commonly used for trend-following: moving average linear weighted moving average exponential smoothing time series momentum

Institutional Investing and Manager Forbearance

Forbearance is important and we argue that performance evaluation should be multifaceted, akin to a Bayesian decision-maker who conducts continued due diligence and updates beliefs about returns with process information.

How to Crush the CFPⓇ Exam 💪: Part 2

As discussed in Part 1 of this blog series, the Certified Financial Planner (CFPⓇ) exam can be a stressful and intimidating experience. With eight areas of content to cover – both as siloed financial knowledge and also as an integrated approach to building a comprehensive financial plan – it's important to be organized and intentional in your study efforts.

The democratization of investing and the evolution of ETFs

The implications of the competitive landscape for ETFs are mixed. On one hand, they have truly democratized investing. Investors now have access to the benefits of financial markets in one instrument that provides diversification at very low fees. Recently advertised fees on broad-based bond funds have fallen to 3bps. On the other hand, ETF providers have been able to satisfy investor demand for increasingly specialized products even though the evidence suggests they underperform. Are investors becoming worse off due to the effectiveness of the marketing strategies by providers of specialized ETFs?

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