Larry Swedroe

The Impact of Amortizing Volatility across Private Investments

The amortization of volatility should be of concern for private capital asset classes. In order to properly budget for beta risks, it is critical that investors in private assets understand the amount of systemic (beta) risk that will “wash” into their private portfolios.

U.S. Companies Have Outperformed Japanese Companies, or Have They?

While both the S&P 500 and the Nikkei indices have recently hit all-time highs, the valuation and balance sheet data we have reviewed indicate that the downside risks in Japanese stocks appear to be far less than the risks in U.S. stocks. Evidence such as this helps explain why legendary investor Warren Buffett has been buying Japanese stocks.

When Shorts Don’t Short

Low short positions come from positive public news, while negative news can drive average short or extremely high short positions

The Halo Effect Drives Demand for Sustainable and Impact Investments

Both investment motives and investment experience are important determinants for investors’ ability to assess (impact) investment opportunities. While investor preference can justify accepting a lower return as the cost of expressing their values, the halo effect should not play a role in making that assessment—both economic theory and empirical evidence should lead investors to expect lower returns on sustainable investments.

Momentum Everywhere, Even Cross-Country Factor Momentum

There is strong empirical evidence demonstrating that momentum (both cross-sectional and time-series) provides information on the cross-section of returns of many risk assets and has generated alpha relative to existing asset pricing models.

Social Media: The Value of Seeking Alpha’s Recommendations

The finding that the recommendations from SA articles resulted in statistically significant risk-adjusted alphas (returns unexplained by conventional academic models using factors such as the market, size, value, momentum, profitability, and quality for equity portfolios) is surprising given that the empirical evidence shows how difficult it is for institutional investors such as mutual funds to show outperformance beyond the randomly expected (as can be seen in the annual SPIVA Scorecards) because of market efficiency.

Social Media, Analyst Behavior and Market Efficiency

Hibbert, Kang, Kumar and Mishra provided us with yet another explanation: social media is providing analysts with information that reduces their forecasting errors. The result has been an increase in market efficiency, leading to a reduction in the PEAD anomaly. The bottom line is that the ability to generate alpha continues to be under assault—trying to outperform the market by stock selection is becoming even more of a loser’s game.  

Minimizing the Risk of Cross-Sectional Momentum Crashes

While the empirical research on cross-sectional (long-short) momentum has shown that returns have been high, investors have also experienced huge drawdowns—momentum exhibits both high kurtosis and negative skewness. Since 1926 there have been several momentum crashes that featured short, but persistent, periods of highly negative returns. For example, from June to August 1932, the momentum portfolio lost about 91%, followed by a second drawdown from April to July 1933.

Economic Momentum

Strong empirical evidence demonstrates that momentum (both cross-sectional and time-series) provides information on the cross-section of returns of many risk assets and has generated alpha relative to existing asset pricing models.

Tracking Error is a Feature, Not a Bug

The benefits of diversification are well known. In fact, it’s been called the only free lunch in investing. Investors who seek to benefit from diversification of the sources of risk and return of their portfolios must accept that adding unique sources of risk means that their portfolio will inevitably experience what is called tracking error—a financial term used as a measure of the performance of a portfolio relative to the performance of a benchmark, such as the S&P 500.

Breaking Bad Momentum Trends

In their two papers, Goulding, Harvey, and Mazzoleni showed that observed market corrections and rebounds carry predictive information about subsequent returns and showed how that information could be utilized to enhance the performance of trend-following strategies by dynamically blending slow and fast momentum strategies based on four-state cycle-conditional information.

Betting on a Short Squeeze as Investment Strategy

Short squeezes are often associated with a large positive jump in the price of a stock. Filippou, Garcia-Ares, and Zapatero demonstrated that skewness-seeking investors try to identify securities that could experience a short squeeze in the near future and are willing to pay a premium for them. That results in an overvaluation of the options and, on average, negative returns. Investors are best served to avoid investments with lottery-like distributions. One way to do that is to turn a blind eye to social media sites like Robinhood and Reddit so you don’t get caught up in the hype and excitement. That’s another example of why retail investors are called “dumb money.” Forewarned is forearmed.

Cut Your Losses and Let Profits Run?

Be careful before acting on what is considered to be conventional wisdom. Make sure it’s supported by empirical evidence. In this case, the evidence makes clear that “cut your losses and let your profits run” should not be conventional wisdom.

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