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Smart Beta Can Be Smart But Is Not New

I held off writing about smart beta strategies as long as I could. The world, after all, is awash in such pieces. I couldn’t ignore it any longer, though, because virtually every piece I’ve read that’s critical of smart beta misses one fundamental point: The term “smart beta” may be new (and has certainly been effective from a marketing perspective) but the underlying strategies themselves are not.

Most of the debate has centered on the non-market-capitalization weighting schemes of smart be....

Do Private Equity Investments Outperform?

The initial academic work on the returns of private equity investments generally found underperformance relative to public market benchmarks like the S&P 500. More recent research, which apparently uses higher-quality data, is coming to the opposite conclusion. But is it really? Professor Ludovic Phalippou from the University of Oxford argues that while this recent research appears to be valid, the S&P 500 isn’t the

Can the Size and Value Premiums Be Captured?
The debate about whether the size and value premiums have existed on paper was settled many years ago. The long-term historical data clearly shows robust size and value premiums. The average annual U.S. size and value premiums have been 3.6 and 4.8 percent, respectively, from 1927-2012. What has been more hotly debated, however, is whether these premiums could actually be captured in the real world net of t....
What More Can We Expect from Stocks?
A reader asked if I could expand on my post from two weeks back on expected stock returns. Specifically, he asked if I could focus on how tilts toward certain types of stocks could be expected to provide (or subtract) additional expected return beyond what we expect the overall market to do.
 
In that post, I noted that a reasonable expectation for the long-term real return of U.S. stocks was about 4 percent. ....
Deficit Deals Aren’t Easy
Well, we ended up about where I anticipated. With little to no pressure from the bond markets, I fully expected some scheme that would avert a large portion of the mandatory cuts and tax increases without doing anything to fix the underlying budget deficit problems, and that’s what we got.
 
Why? The reality is the budget deficit problems won’t be fixed without substantial reduction in entitlement payouts, but pushing these changes through is difficult without external pres....
When Will Rates Go Back to Normal?
Interest rates have already been lower for longer than many market pundits have expected. The big question is: How much longer will they stay low?
 
Those who ignored these pundits and modestly extended maturity during this period have been well rewarded. As one example of this, the total returns from rolling over one-month Treasury bills and holding five-year Treasury bonds wer....
If Swensen Isn’t Staring Back at You in the Mirror…
For those of you who don’t know who that is, this is David Swensen, chief investment officer of the Yale Endowment.
 
I’ve got immense respect for Swensen (his book Unconventional Success was loaded with good information, including an absolute demolition of the Wells REIT), and it certainly looks like he and his team have delivered gre....
Measuring Persistence in Fund Performance

Last week, I explored Standard and Poor’s most recent index versus active scorecard. In short, that report showed that the majority of mutual fund managers underperformed their respective benchmarks.

Little did I know that Standard & Poor’s also publishes a semi-annual report tracking persistence in outperformance for the fraction of fund managers who outperformed their benchmark in a given year. This report also ....

Consistency of Stock Return Premiums

I’ve blogged previously on numerous stock market return premiums. In this post I’ll be exploring the consistency of the market, size, value and momentum premiums using U.S. stock market data (from Dartmouth Professor Ken French’s Web site) over the period of 1927–2011. Consistency is important because it gives you a sense of how frequently the unexpected happens: bonds outperforming stocks or growth outperforming value.

Can Momentum Reduce Tracking Error in Small- and Value-Tilted Portfolios?
Last week, we saw that a momentum strategy could theoretically reduce tracking error in small- and value-tilted portfolios. Today, we’ll see if this has made a difference historically.
 
Last week's post referenced the potential improvement that an allocation to a momentum-based stock strategy can have in terms of reducing the tracking error in small- and value-tilted portfolios. Keep in mind that momentum is the tendency for stock....
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