Asset Allocation

Investing in Interesting Times

Given 2022’s cheapening of asset valuations, some have questioned if we are still in a world of low expected returns. We review what’s changed after 2022, showing that the lower expected return picture has not been substantially altered for many asset classes. We provide some suggestions to potentially ameliorate the pain caused by this environment.

Factor/Style Investing

Fact, Fiction, and Factor Investing

Factor investing has been around for several decades, backed by an enormous body of literature, and yet it is still surrounded by much confusion and debate. We examine many of the claims about factor investing, referencing the academic literature and performing simple, yet powerful, analysis to address them.

ESG Investing

ESG Ratings: A Compass without Direction

We examine the recent concerns about the reliability of the assessments of ESG ratings providers. We review the demand for ESG information, the stated objectives of ESG ratings providers, how ratings are determined, the evidence of what they achieve, and structural aspects of the industry that potentially influence ratings. We find that while ESG ratings providers may convey important insights into the nonfinancial impact of companies, significant shortcomings exist in their objectives, methodologies, and incentives which detract from the informativeness of their assessments.

Portfolio Construction

A Changing Stock-Bond Correlation

For the past two decades, the stock/bond correlation – a fundamental detriment of risk in traditional portfolios – has been consistently negative. However, this hasn’t always been the case, and a positive stock/bond correlation could reappear due to macroeconomic changes. In this article, we assess the broad implications this would have for investors and set out practical steps to prepare for such an outcome.

ESG Investing

Supply Chain Climate Exposure

To manage climate risks, investors need reliable climate exposure metrics, but such risks may be difficult to measure, particularly along the supply chain. Using broadly accessible data, we propose an intuitive metric that quantifies the exposure a company has to customers and suppliers. Our metric is related to scope 3 emissions and captures the strength of economic linkages as well as the overall climate exposure of a firm’s customers and suppliers.

Tax Aware

Taxes, Charity, and Hedge Funds: Tax Implications of Charitable Contributions of Leveraged Partnership Interests

As a result of recent Treasury regulations, investors in investment partnerships, such as hedge funds, might end up recognizing capital gains when they contribute their partnership interests to a charity. We explain how such taxable gains upon charitable contributions arise and quantify how punitive they might be.

Fixed Income

Sustainable Systematic Credit

Interest in sustainable investing is now expanding into fixed income. This paper assesses how measures of sustainability/ESG might be relevant for corporate bonds and analyzes how ESG measures can be incorporated into an investment process to achieve the joint object of maximizing risk-adjusted returns and a sustainability target.

Alternative Investing

The Tax Benefits of Direct Indexing: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Formula

An investor holding a direct indexing portfolio can obtain tax benefits by harvesting losses on individual stock positions. We show that investors with allocations to hedge funds and derivatives are the most likely category of investors to have systematic short-term capital gains in their portfolios and, therefore, benefit the most from losses harvested by direct-indexing strategies. We show how tax benefits are affected by equalizing the tax rate applicable to long-term and short-term capital gains.

Tax Aware

Limitation on Trader Fund Losses under the CARES Act of 2020

We explain how hedge fund investors might be affected by a limitation on excess business losses codified in recent tax legislation. In order to allocate business losses a hedge fund now must be a trader fund. After explaining the relationship between hedge fund losses and business losses, we illustrate with simple examples how the new provisions may affect hedge fund investors.

Tax Aware

Integration of Income and Estate Tax Planning

Preservation and transfer of wealth to future generations is one of the central financial goals for most high-net-worth families. We show that a family that invests with income and estate tax efficiency in mind can achieve substantially higher wealth levels than a family oblivious to taxes.