Factor/Style Investing

We're Not Dead Yet

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We're Not Dead Yet

Institutional Investor

Some argue that quantitative investing techniques cannot work in the uncharted waters of the quant crisis of 2008. We believe that’s almost exactly backward. Yes, models cannot easily anticipate a subprime mortgage crisis — or the broader credit crisis we have now — or what the effects of such will be. But can nonquantitative managers? If so, we’ve missed the evidence.

We can’t “prove” that quant investing has a future, but we can demonstrate that quant strategies have had a successful long-term past — and that their performance in tumultuous markets in 2008 was not inconsistent with that record. Going forward, we think tough times will reward — not punish — the discipline and diversification of quantitative investing and cause the biases they exploit to be more, not less, profitable.

It’s not hard to see why people might think quantitative strategies are dead. Periods of poor performance, fears of overcrowding and unusual runups in equity markets could easily lead one to question the viability of these strategies. As we explain, we don’t think most of these concerns hold water. But the good news is that they keep many people from investing in the strategies. And this brings us back to the question of how these strategies can earn a return if everyone knows about them.

Quant strategies work because they exploit fundamental, deep-seated flaws in the way most investors make decisions. They don’t make money every day, month, quarter or even year. But they do make money over the medium to long term, thanks in no small part to all those investors who think quantitative investing is dead.

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The information contained herein is only as current as of the date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AQR Capital Management, LLC, its affiliates or its employees. This information is not intended to, and does not relate specifically to any investment strategy or product that AQR offers. It is being provided merely to provide a framework to assist in the implementation of an investor’s own analysis and an investor’s own view on the topic discussed herein. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.


Hypothetical performance results have many inherent limitations, some of which, but not all, are described herein. The hypothetical performance shown was derived from the retroactive application of a model developed with the benefit of hindsight.  Hypothetical performance results are presented for illustrative purposes only.


Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment loss.


Certain publications may have been written prior to the author being an employee of AQR.

This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor.


AQR Capital Management is a global investment management firm, which may or may not apply similar investment techniques or methods of analysis as described herein. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of AQR.