The Journal of the Society of Actuaries held a contest for articles on investment myths, and we are honored to have had our article on ‘Fallacies of the Fed Model’ chosen for publication in this prestigious journal. We want to thank our co-authors, David Cantor and Kunal Rajani of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, for proposing this collaboration, and for their critical insights and analytical contributions.
“One way to test our thinking would be to ask the question in reverse: If your index manager reliably delivered the full market return with no more than market risk for a fee of just 5 bps, would you be willing to switch to active performance managers who charge exponentially more and produce unpredictably varying results, falling short of their chosen benchmarks nearly twice as often as they outperform—and when they fall short, losing 50% more than they gain when they outperform? The question answers itself.” – Charles Ellis, “The Rise and Fall of Performance Investing“
Systematic researchers overwhelmingly use monthly holding periods to test strategies. This is probably driven by the availability of long-term monthly total return data for a wide variety of indexes, where daily data is more scarce. This is fine to a point, but investors may not be aware of just how sensitive results might be to day-of-the-month effects which may not persist out of sample.
Any analysis that relies on the past to offer guidance about the future makes the strong assumption that the future will in fact resemble the past. We have no guarantee that this will be the case. Many optimistic analysts assert that the invention of central banking, global communications and trade, robotics, 3D printing, Paul Krugman, or any number of ‘game changers’ that have evolved over the past few decades renders comparisons with our past misguided. Surely we won’t make the mistakes of our ancestors; there will be no more war, no misguided political decisions, no shortsighted thinking, no natural disasters, no panics or conflicts or excesses which derail our arc toward ever-increasing prosperity.
This post will be short and sweet as it’s largely an addendum to our previous post NFL Parity, Sample Size and Manager Selection. It was motivated primarily by an interesting analysis by Tom Murphy, a physics professor at the University of California – San Diego. We greatly admire Dr. Murphy and highly recommend his blog.