As Duration Dies, Equities Rise
We compare the current value of bonds versus stocks within the context of the equity risk premium. We couple this analysis with an evaluation of possible Fed policy direction. Our conclusion is that risk assets, such as US equities and corporate bonds, are poised to benefit as are gold and other commodities due to tumbling real yields and dollar weakening.
How COVID-19 Vaccines and Brexit Create the Trade of the 2020s
In late 2020, a new kid emerged on the bargain-of-the-decade block. UK stocks, and notably UK value, reached very cheap levels relative to value stocks in other developed economies. Today, UK value remains at remarkably low valuations relative to most of its fundamentals.
Reports of Value's Death May Be Greatly Exaggerated
Rob Arnott: “There hasn’t been a better time to be a value investor at any other time in my career. I look back at the tech bubble and I never thought I would see valuations stretched the way they were then. We're back to that, and then some." We invite you to revisit “Reports of Value’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” now published in the Financial Analysts Journal.
Surprise! Factor Betas Don’t Deliver Factor Alphas
By buying or overweighting characteristics-based factor exposure and selling or underweighting beta-based factor exposure, investors can position their portfolios to reap the rewards of factor investing while bearing less risk.
Beware the Shocks in the Road
Massive growth in central bank balance sheets via quantitative easing, debt monetization, and firing of “big bazooka” stimulus packages brings renewed focus to potential shocks in the business cycle. An awareness of the macroeconomic “shocks” and their impact on asset prices should be incorporated in investors’ tactical asset-allocation decisions.
Is Diversification Dead?
Over the last dozen years, investors holding the classic US 60/40 portfolio were substantially better off than their diversified peers, yet now is not the time to abandon diversification and diversifying asset classes. We believe it is imprudent to trust that escalation in valuations will continue unabated into the next decade...
Bitcoin: Magic Internet Money
The sage advice to “know what you are investing in” is being dangerously overlooked by both novice and seasoned investors when it comes to bitcoin. A former bitcoin miner explains why the price of BTC is nearly certainly a bubble and likely manipulated. Investors should proceed with extreme caution.
Tesla, the Largest-Cap Stock Ever to Enter S&P 500: A Buy Signal or a Bubble?
On December 21, Tesla will be the largest company ever to enter the S&P 500 Index. Tesla’s skyhigh valuation, which meets our real-time definition of a bubble, conforms to the observation that market-cap-weighted indices buy high and sell low—the antithesis of prudent investing.
Book Value Is an Incomplete Measure of Firm Size
Adding intangible assets to book value provides a more robust measure of firm capital. But, just as a home buyer considers a host of variables when evaluating the price of a new house, we prefer to use multiple metrics, not book value alone, to get the most complete picture possible of a firm’s valuation.
The Risks to a Robust Recovery
Cam Harvey outlines seven risks that have the potential to derail the economic path forward. He believes in the possibility of a robust recovery, but prudence dictates going through the exercise of listing the risks to the recovery and assessing their economic and financial implications.
Is ESG a Factor?
Applying the definition of factor robustness that was established by our Research Affiliates colleagues in a 2016 award-winning paper, we determine ESG is not a factor. Nevertheless, the importance of ESG as an investing strategy is undeniable. We explore how greater clarity around defining ESG can quicken the pace of ESG integration in equity portfolios.
A Quick Survey of "Broken" Asset Classes
Pundits, prognosticators, and even investment boards often make misleading declarations that an asset class is broken, that its prospects for earning investors a reasonable future return are very dim. These proclamations can lead to investors’ abandoning these assets to chase recent winners.
The COVID-19 Crash and the Abandonment of the Pensioner
Between mid-February and late March 2020, we saw a “take no prisoners” market crash. Anything with a whiff of perceived risk crashed, in direct proportion to its perceived risk. The only assets that soared—because of tumbling interest rates—were long Treasury bonds, and with them, the net present value of pension obligations.
Reports of Value's Death May Be Greatly Exaggerated
The Fama–French value factor, and value investing in general, has suffered an extraordinarily long 13.3 years of underperformance relative to the growth investing style. The current drawdown has been by far the longest as well as the largest since July 1963. Arnott, Harvey, Kalesnik, and Linnainmaa examine the potential causes of value’s underperformance and provide estimates of value’s performance relative to growth’s performance under different revaluation scenarios over the next decade.
FOMO vs. Fundamentals
Unlike most macro investors who are event-driven, RBA has always strictly followed fundamentals. Our models and indicators have been time-tested in multiple cycles over the past 30 years, and a deliberate and disciplined approach has so far served us well in the current unprecedented environment.
Too Soon? Pandemic Policy Response Raises Risk of Inflation
The Fed’s $5 trillion bazooka, helicopter drops of cash, and a tripling of deficits over the next two years imply a future bout of high and volatile inflation unless fiscal policy nimbly pivots to help prevent the toxic side effect of a spike in inflation. Is that expectation realistic?
As Markets Burn
Major adjustments in capital markets around the globe have changed our long-term expected return forecasts for the 100+ assets we model. Before the corona crash we forecast long-term real returns for US equities to be only 1% a year. Now new, lower valuations suggest higher returns.
Leading in Uncertain Times
In times of uncertainty, good leaders lean into crisis and are able to fully engage, motivate, and inspire their team. The serious and stressful challenge of the COVID-19 crisis demands that leaders embrace flexibility, curiosity, and openness to diverse perspectives.
The Distinction between a Company and Its Stock Price
We at Research Affiliates recently conducted our first virtual All Hands meeting after finding ourselves working from home in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. As CIO, I responded to questions about our investment strategy. Katy Sherrerd, CEO, and Jeff Wilson, Head of Distribution, asked me to elaborate more broadly on my response to one of the questions submitted by email the day prior.
With Volatility Comes Opportunity
Uncertainty continues to dominate global securities markets and heightened volatility is the result. Feifei Li, partner and head of equities, asks Rob Arnott, the founder and chairman of Research Affiliates, about the implications of increased volatility on investment strategies and where investors can find the best opportunities.
This Too Shall Pass
Rob Arnott shares his perspective on the ongoing market crisis in a Q&A with Jonathan Treussard. He suggests the time to buy is when investors are at “peak fear.” In the weeks ahead, that point will come and bargains will make themselves self-evident to the disciplined investor. The window of opportunity will be short, but highly rewarding over the longer term.
Reports of Value's Death May Be Greatly Exaggerated
The current drawdown has been by far the longest as well as the second largest since July 1963, eclipsed only by the tech bubble from 1997 to 2000. Arnott, Harvey, Kalesnik, and Linnainmaa examine the potential causes of value’s underperformance and provide estimates of value’s performance relative to growth’s performance under different revaluation scenarios over the next decade.
Forecasts or Nowcasts? What’s on the Horizon for the 2020s
Now is the season for forecasting as one decade turns into the next. Pundits and market prognosticators too often treat nowcasts as true market forecasts, which can be very dangerous for investors’ financial health. Our forecasts for the decade ahead rely on empirically driven quantitative models.
Plausible Performance: Have Smart Beta Return Claims Jumped the Shark?
To get the attention of smart beta investors in a crowded marketplace, some smart beta providers are laying claim to performance that appears implausible. So what is plausible? We look at historical live performance to answer this important question.
Standing Alone Against the Crowd: Abandon Value? Now?!?
- In a prolonged anti-value momentum-driven rally, it’s easy and natural to forget the long-term value proposition of a rebalancing discipline.
- The evidence and intuition underlying a contrarian value investing discipline has proven merit in cycle after cycle across history.
- By steadily rebalancing against the market’s most extravagant bets, RAFI strategies are positioned to recoup accumulated shortfall at the cycle’s turn, delivering meaningful long-term value-add.
- The continued outperformance of today’s most dominant companies is unlikely to be sustainable in the long run.
Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble
Looking back over the last 15 months, the authors assess their success at identifying asset bubbles and anti-bubbles in April 2018. The scorecard is in their favor. More importantly, however, they review how their definitions of a bubble and an anti-bubble continue to provide useful insights for where investors can find value in today’s global markets.
Strike the Right Balance in Multi-Factor Strategy Design
One thing is for sure, investing means buying and selling, and these two activities aren’t free. Regardless of how promising the strategy looks on paper, its benefits will be reduced to some degree through its implementation. A worthy goal, therefore, is to limit the toll implementation takes on a strategy’s execution.
The Challenges of Diversity Investing
The business case for diversity is compelling, but the investment case for diversity is less clear-cut. We suggest, therefore, that investors who seek to promote diversity and its business benefits combine diversity with known drivers of excess returns.
The Biggest Failure in Investment Management: How Smart Beta Can Make It Better or Worse
The biggest failure in investment management—the gap between the returns realized by the investor and the returns earned by the strategy or fund the investor owns—typically remains in the shadows with the glare of the spotlights focused on alpha. Smart beta is no exception. We propose two ways to reframe the client performance review that we believe will result in better long-term outcomes.
Alternative Risk Premia: Valuable Benefits for Traditional Portfolios
An alternative risk premia strategy that relies on robust factors within a liquid, transparent, and disciplined framework has the potential to improve the long-term return prospects of traditional portfolios and to reduce their downside risk.
Rebalance or Rush Hour?
Embracing a disciplined approach to rebalancing can lead to better long-term investment outcomes. Overcoming the natural tendency to wait-and-see before repositioning our portfolios can be a difficult, but worthy, goal for investors to pursue. Advisors can help investors surmount this and other behavioral hurdles by adopting a systematic rebalancing approach that effectively institutionalizes contrarian investment behavior.
Where Is the Global Economy Going?
Evidence shows that the yield-curve slope and equity returns provide signals of similar direction in the economy, allowing investors to nowcast with relative confidence. Today, those signals indicate that several developed markets—in particular, Japan, Germany, and the United States—are ominously close to entering a correction phase.
Buy High and Sell Low with Index Funds!
Traditional index funds match market performance and have negligible trading costs with low tracking error—or do they? Not actually—they routinely buy after high price appreciation and sell after high price depreciation. They also have significant trading costs from adding and deleting stocks. We show how index providers can construct better-performing indices that are less prone to performance chasing and have lower turnover.
Is Your Alpha Big Enough to Cover Its Taxes? A Quarter-Century Retrospective
Investors and their advisors must be alert to managing both pre-tax and after-tax alpha in order for investors to realize the highest possible return from their taxable portfolios. Increasingly, the opportunities to accomplish both goals are within reach of investors through, for example, tax-advantaged smart beta strategies and tax-efficient vehicles such as ETFs.
Food for Thought: Integrating vs. Mixing
Although a naïve comparison appears to favor the integrating approach to multi-factor strategy construction, after taking into account both quantitative and qualitative considerations, many investors—those seeking transparency, diversification, minimal governance oversight, and low fees—may find mixing is a more sensible choice.
Yes. It's a Bubble. So What?
With sky-high valuations in the US stock market, and what we believe is a tech bubble that has dangerous implications for other areas of the market, we suggest four actions investors can take now to avoid the inevitable bursting of the bubble, and which will likely benefit their portfolios’ long-term performance potential.
Unlocking the Performance Potential in ESG Investing
By combining a tilt toward companies that display financial discipline and that embrace corporate diversity with the return engine of a fundamentally weighted portfolio, we believe investors in environmental, social, and governance (ESG)–related strategies have the opportunity to earn superior long-term risk-adjusted returns.
Performance Measurement: How to Do It If We Must
Assessing our portfolios’ performance is a necessary activity, but by being aware that measurement over shorter time horizons is dominated by noise, we can better resist the natural human instinct to “do something”—typically selling the underperforming investment at exactly the wrong time—if near-term performance falls below expectations.
When Value Goes Global
When the value trade goes global, investors are poised to benefit. Evidence from the international equity, bond, currency, and commodity markets indicates that the value premium is a global phenomenon that can offer important portfolio diversification. However, the devil is in the details: we argue that the successful implementation of global value strategies critically depends on an economically motivated design.
Craftsmanship in Smart Beta
While somewhat at odds with today’s big-data, warp-speed approach to life and work, thoughtful craftsmanship—the product design and implementation elements that are tangible, measurable, and impactful—can create positive, persistent results in portfolio performance.