I hope that 2017 is finding everyone happy and healthy
My writing on these pages has admittedly slowed. This has not been for a shortage of ideas or time, but instead due to a change in the direction of my career. Earlier this year I took a position in financial research, and in order to avoid conflicts and competition I won’t by contributing to my blog for the foreseeable future. The good news is that I will continue this work on a much bigger platform with the intent of helping more people make better financial decisions.
When I first started publishing my thoughts I never imagined the feedback and encouragement that I have subsequently received. It has, without a doubt, been a tremendous tailwind to my efforts. I’d like to thank all of you for your help and support over the past year, and I look forward to meeting many of you in near future!
Traditional financial theory has relied heavily on standard deviation or variance (the square of standard deviation) to quantify historic risk. Markowitz mean-variance optimization and the Sharpe ratio are two such examples under the umbrella of modern portfolio theory that reference variance or standard deviation as a proxy for risk in their formulation. However, there are some concerns with using these risk metrics that should be considered.
Investing consists of exactly one thing: dealing with the future.
Several years ago I was introduced to the writings of Howard Marks and have been a loyal follower ever since. The reflections he shares in his memos, while occasionally written from the perspective of a value investor, offer insights and reasoning that are applicable to many different fields of investing and life. I consider his memos to be essential reading, and The Most Important Thing acts as an excellent companion piece with additional thoughts and commentary. Below I’ve highlighted a few topics that I thought were worth a discussion
The Capital Asset Pricing Model implies that assets with high beta should provide a higher rate of return than those with low beta. High beta assets are such because of a high degree of market exposure: a large amount of correlation with the overall market and high volatility. But, is it possible that high beta assets, with their high volatility, may outperform during market booms and then underperform during times of distress (relative to low beta assets)?
I can’t take credit for this idea, but I thought it was an interesting thought and worth some exploration.
Some of my favorite subjects in grade school were the accounts of famous global explorers such as Magellan and Columbus. The history of these pioneers usually has some attachment to the flat Earth theory–what was thought to be the prevailing thought during the middle ages. As it turns out this sentiment at the time was largely false as the ancient Greeks were among the first to theorize that the Earth was indeed spherical.
The word bubble, in the context of financial markets, gets thrown around a lot these days. Some of this is understandable considering the global economy was, and still is, recovering from the incredible recession of 2008-2009. Our senses have been heightened to watch out for what may be coming next. Regardless, the excessive usage begs the question: What defines a true bubble?
This post also appeared on AlphaArchitect.com
So you’re a trend-follower. Great.
But here is a question:
What do you invest in when your rules suggest “risk off?”
Many investors suggest low duration cash or t-bills. Seems reasonable.
But is it optimal?
Perhaps we should invest in longer duration risk-off assets like 10-yr bonds? We investigate these questions and come to the conclusion that keeping it simple is probably the best solution — dump “risk-off” assets into truly low risk assets like cash or t-bills.