Fund picking

Reverse Flight to Liquidity in Fixed Income

7.August 2020

Recent corona-crisis turbulence brought us many unexpected things, and one observation is connected with the fixed-income market. The conventional wisdom says that there is a flight to liquidity during troubled times and crises. Traditionally, liquid assets are US Treasuries or high-quality corporate bonds. Therefore, in theory, the pandemic should have been connected with buying pressure of high-quality liquid assets. However, as shown by a novel, insightful research from Ha, Xiao and Zeng, the exact opposite held. There was a very unusual sellout of liquid assets such as high quality fixed income as mutual funds tried to meet their redemption requests.

Authors: Yiming Ma, Kairong Xiao and Yao Zeng

Title: Mutual Fund Liquidity Transformation and Reverse Flight to Liquidity

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Embedded Leverage in High Beta Funds and Management Fees

4.June 2020

Risk-averse investors want higher returns at any cost. If they are constrained and are not able to use leverage on their own, they will look for other ways to increase their performance. Recent academic paper written by Hitzemann, Sokolinski, Tai suggests, that such risk-seeking investor will search for a high-beta fund that will give them requested embedded leverage, even when that fund charge higher than average fees. Resultant net alpha of those high-beta funds is then negative, and this effect can explain the significant part of the underperformance of the overall mutual fund industry. And now, the logical question follows: As hedge funds have even higher fees than mutual funds, what is embedded in them, that constrained clients normally can’t access? Higher leverage and access to option-like return distribution? Maybe…

Authors: Hitzemann, Sokolinski, Tai

Title: Paying for Beta: Embedded Leverage and Asset Management Fees

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A Link Between Investment Biases and Cortisol and Testosterone Levels

28.April 2020

Financial markets are full of pricing anomalies, and their existence is often explained by human behavior. Behavioral finance postulates that cognitive irrationality is manifested in biases like the disposition effect (the tendency of people to sell assets that have increased in value, but keeping assets that have dropped in value in portfolio) or overconfidence bias (the tendency of people to be more confident in their own abilities). There are some papers which directly link investment decision making caused by these biases to actual physiology of investors (for example, a known impact of testosterone on investment performance). A new research paper written by Nofsinger, Patterson, and Shank examines not only testosterone but also cortisol levels of testing subjects and then compares their performance in a mock investment contest. Both hormones are strongly related to higher portfolio turnover and inability to accept losses, with cortisol levels even more significant than testosterone.

Author: Nofsinger, Patterson, Shank

Title: On the Physiology of Investment Biases: The Role of Cortisol and Testosterone

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Do Copycat CTAs Outperform Individualistic CTAs?

13.February 2020

Our society teaches us, that it is good to be different. That our trading strategy must be always unique, creative and individualistic. It is boring and unprofitable to be the “average”, to do what the others do. And then, there is a research paper written by Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian which offers the opposite view. Their analysis explains there exist one hedge fund style where everything is the other way round – trend-following CTAs funds. Their interesting (but for some maybe controversial) paper shows that CTAs with returns that correlate more strongly with those of peers have higher performance. It appears that CTA strategy conformity is a signal of managerial skill. Now, that is an eccentric idea 🙂

Authors: Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian

Title: When It Pays to Follow the Crowd: Strategy Conformity and CTA Performance

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Top Ten Blog Posts on Quantpedia in 2019

29.December 2019

The end of the year is a good time for a short recapitulation. Apart from other things we do (which we will summarize in our next blog in a few days), we have published around 50 short blog posts / recherches of academic papers on this blog during the last year. We want to use this opportunity to summarize 10 of them, which were the most popular (based on Google Analytics tool). Maybe you will be able to find something you have not read yet …

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Why Did Trend-Following Underperform Last Decade?

20.December 2019

Trend-following funds and strategies were once extremely popular after the 2008/2009 crisis. They offered attractive performance, and diversification properties made them a nice addition to investor’s portfolios. Ten years later, “trend-following strategy” is not such a popular word. Strategies didn’t blow-up, but their performance was far from spectacular. What are the main reasons for that? Is it an increased correlation among markets? Are trend rules inefficient? An important recent academic study written by Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos (all from AQR Capital Management) analyzes trend-following performance for each decade in the last 140 years and uses three distinct factors: the magnitude of market moves, the efficacy of trend-following strategies at capturing profitability from market moves, and the degree of diversification across trends in a trend-following portfolio. They show that it’s the first factor (a lack of large risk-adjusted market moves, positive or negative) that had the biggest impact in the last decade. This suggests that trend-following strategies should be able to deliver better performance in the future if the size of the market moves reverts to levels more consistent with the long-term historical distribution of returns…

Authors: Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos

Title: You Can’t Always Trend When You Want

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