Machine Learning

The Virtue of Complexity in Return Prediction

Contrary to conventional wisdom, we theoretically prove that simple models severely understate return predictability compared to “complex” models in which the number of parameters exceeds the number of observations. We empirically document the virtue of complexity in U.S. equity market return prediction. Our findings establish the rationale for modeling expected returns through machine learning.

Tax Aware

Loss Harvesting or Gain Deferral? A Surprising Source of Tax Benefits of Tax-Aware Long-Short Strategies

We explore the mechanism for how tax-aware long-short factor strategies, within their first three years since inception, can realize cumulative net capital losses exceeding 100% of initially invested capital, all while generating a significant pre-tax alpha – a result shown in previous research. Surprisingly, we find in these strategies that net capital losses arise not from an increased realization of capital losses but rather from the deferral of capital gains, especially short-term gains on long positions.

Factor/Style Investing

Fact, Fiction, and Factor Investing: Practical Applications

This piece distills the central concepts and practical takeaways of our Fact, Fiction, and Factor Investing article, which examined many claims about factor investing, referencing an extensive academic literature and performing simple, yet powerful, analysis to address those claims.

Tax Aware

Beyond Direct Indexing: Dynamic Direct Long-Short Investing

On average, net losses realized by direct indexing loss-harvesting strategies taper off within the first few years after their inception, and these strategies also exhibit a high dispersion of net loss outcomes. We show that long-short strategies motivated by factor investing can significantly outperform direct indexing strategies from both a pre-tax and tax perspective.


International Diversification—Still Not Crazy after All These Years

International diversification has hurt US-based investors for over 30 years, but the long-run case for it remains relevant. We show that both financial theory and common sense favor international diversification, buttressed by empirical supportive evidence. Additionally we show it would be dangerous to extrapolate the post-1990 outperformance of US equities.

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.