Factor allocation

Nuclear Threats and Factor Performance – Takeaway for Russia-Ukraine Conflict

31.March 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its repercussions continue to occupy front pages all around the world. While using nuclear forces in war is probably a red line for all of the mature world, there is still possible to use nuclear weapons for blackmailing. What will be the impact of such an event on financial markets? It’s not easy to determine, but we tried to identify multiple events in the past which were also slightly unexpected and carried an indication of nuclear threat and then analyzed their impact on financial markets.

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Factor Performance in Cold War Crises – A Lesson for Russia-Ukraine Conflict

8.March 2022

The Russia-Ukraine war is a conflict that has not been in Europe since WW2. And it has great implications not only on human lives but also on security prices. It bears numerous characteristics of the cold war crises, where two nuclear powers (Soviet Union and USA/NATO) were often very close to hot war or were waging a proxy war in 3rd countries. We thought it might be wise to look at similar periods from the past to understand what happens in such situations. We selected five events and analyzed the performance of main equity factors (market, HML, SMB, momentum & 2x reversal) and energy and fixed income proxy portfolios.

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Should Factor Investors Neutralize the Sector Exposure?

8.February 2022

Factor investors face numerous choices that do not end even after picking the set of factors. For instance, should they neutralize the factor exposure? If the investor pursues sector neutralization, does the decision depend on a particular factor? Or are the choices different for the long-only investor compared to the long-short investor? The research paper by Ehsani, Harvey, and Li (2021) answers these questions and provides investors with an interesting insight on this topic.

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Factor Performance in Bull and Bear Markets

27.January 2022

Do common equity factors suffer during bear markets? Undoubtedly, the market factor is a rather unpleasant investment during bear markets, but what about the long-short factors? Are they able to deliver performance? The research paper by Geertsema and Lu (2021) provides several answers and interesting insights.

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Out-of-sample Dataset Before the “Sample”: Pervasive Anomalies Before 1926

30.November 2021

Data are the key to systematic investing/trading strategies. The hypotheses testing, risk or return evaluations, correlations, and factor loadings rely on past data and backtests. With an increasing speed of publication in finance, critiques of quantitative strategies have emerged. Strategies seem to decay in alpha, post-publication returns tend to be lower, and many strategies become insignificant once rigorously tested (in or out-of-sample). Moreover, some might even appear profitable purely by chance and the repetitive examination of the same dataset, such as CRSP stocks after 1963. 

Is there any solution to overcome these limitations? Partially, the design of the novel machine learning strategies consisting of training, validation, and testing sets might help. Perhaps the most crucial part of such a scheme is the usage of the purely out-of-sample dataset. In this regard, the novel research by Baltussen et al. (2021) provides several valuable findings for the most recognized factors. The authors constructed a database of U.S. stocks, including dividends and market caps for 1488 major stocks from 1866 to 1926. The sample can be described as the pre-CRSP period, including independent, pre-publication, and “out-of-sample” data that can be a perfect test for the factors utilized today. 

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The Quant Cycle – The Time Variation in Factor Returns

22.November 2021

Although the factors in asset pricing models offer a premium in the long run, they are undergoing bull and bear market cycles in the short term. One would expect that it is due to their connection to the business cycles as the factor premium represents a reward for bearing the macroeconomic risks. A novel study by Blitz (2021) finds that traditional business cycle indicators can’t explain much of the time variation of factor returns as the factors are a behavioral phenomenon driven by investor sentiment. To capture the large factor cyclical variation, the author proposes a quant cycle that is defined by the peaks and troughs in the factor returns corresponding to the bull and bear markets.

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