The first decade of the 21st century, and the second one that’s drawing to a close, have reinforced for investors some timeless market lessons: Returns can vary sharply from one period to another. Holding a broadly diversified portfolio can help smooth out the swings. And focusing on known drivers of higher expected returns can increase the potential for long-term success. Having a sound strategy built on those principles—and sticking to it through good times and bad—can be a rewarding investment approach.
Buying bonds at such stupidly high prices isn’t a way to keep your investment safe—it is speculation.
by: James Mackintosh
In the old days, the government bond market was the calm, dependable one keeping a watchful eye on its excitable equity-market sibling. No longer. Bonds are now just as good a place to be if you like to bet on big price moves, and stocks—while not exactly a tranquil place to invest—haven’t moved any more than is usual.The reason: panic. Yet again there is a global rush for the longest-dated bonds, pulling down the 30-year Treasury yield Thursday to the lowest ever, below 2% for the first time. In the past three months, the soaring price of that bond has led to a return of more than 20%, something that since the 1980s had happened only in the financial collapse in late 2008 and the U.S. credit rating downgrade-plus-eurozone crisis of 2011.
By: Larry Swedroe
Over the past few decades, there has been a substantial shift from active to passive investment strategies. This shift has occurred as investors have become more aware of the persistent failure of active management, as demonstrated in the S&P Dow Jones biannual Indices Versus Active (SPIVA) reports.
A January 2019 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study, “The Shift from Active to Passive Investing: Potential Risks to Financial Stability?”, found that “Passive funds made up 45% of the assets under management (AUM) in equity funds and 26% for bond funds at the end of 2017, whereas both shares were less than 5% in 2005.”
Wall Street has been attacking and ridiculing passive investing for decades. Among the arguments are that the rise of passive investing results in a reduction in price discovery efforts, leading to prices being distorted and capital allocated inefficiently. This occurs because indexing either has too large an influence on prices or it inhibits price discovery because it lowers aggregate market trading volume.
Investment opportunities exist all around the globe.
Across more than 40 countries, there are over 15,000 publicly traded companies. 1 If you listen to the news, however, some countries may seem like better places to invest than others based on how their economies and stock markets are doing at the time. Fluctuations in performance from year to year only add to the complexity, providing little useful information about future returns. Daunted by the prospects of sorting it out, some investors look to the place they know best—their home market. There can be good reasons, such as tax benefits, for prioritizing an investment close to home, but too much home bias could mean underweighting or missing out on part of the investment universe.
Dimensional Fund Advisors launched the first factor based fund in 1981 – the US Microcap Portfolio. Since then financial factor research and products have mushroomed. Academic papers have identified over 400 equity factors. There are currently 130 open-end mutual funds and over 600 ETFs that are factor based.
The primary reasons for this radical change are the low cost of ownership and return attribution. In a diversified stock portfolio, academic research (as well as own internal studies) have shown that 90%-99% of return variability can be explained with just five financial factors: Beta, company size, relative value, profitability, and momentum. This fact has profound implications for investors because the research shows where the overwhelming majority of equity investment returns (and premiums) come from. It also means focusing on other issues such as individual stock selection, active manager selection, and market timing are unnecessary and very likely counterproductive. It then begs the question how does an investor put together a portfolio of equity factors designed to have the highest probability of success? The answer rests on four primary considerations:
More Articles ...
- Perspective on Premiums
- Getting to the Point of a Point
- Gerard O’Reilly on Understanding Investment Performance
- Do You Ever Wonder Who is Buying When Everyone's Selling?