Critics seeking to attack risk parity don't have to go all tin-foil-hat crazy — blaming the strategy for the exceptional market volatility last summer. Instead, they could just do what people usually do, attack recent performance, because risk parity has undeniably been through a tough relative performance period of late. But we still believe in it as an alternative long-term strategic asset allocation that’s typically used to diversify a more traditional equity-dominated allocation.
Recent reports claim that risk parity investors sold large amounts of equities during the most volatile times in August, contributing to — or even causing — share-price gyrations. In fact, risk parity sellers are not big enough to be significant players in the market correction.
First, I must issue a disclaimer. This is for wonks already immersed in the factor literature. There's lots of inside baseball, assumed terminology, etc., in this one. I explain what I’m doing along the way, but rarely from scratch. If this stuff is brand new to you and you still understand it all you are way smarter than me (you are allowed to find that to be faint praise). There’s nothing more mathematical here than a regression model but there is lots of shop talk. So, if "factor wonk" doesn't describe you, you probably have friends and a social life, so that’s nice, but this piece won't make much sense (consider it even).
A recent interview with Professor Eugene Fama represents another sign that much confusion about momentum unfortunately remains. While my faith in Professor Fama is exceptionally high, this is one of the few topics where we fundamentally disagree. While debates and discussions about momentum will undoubtedly continue, in this post I’ve tried to sort out fact from fiction by bringing clarity regarding the facts and interpretations about momentum and debunk some myths along the way.
If you’re still hawking the story that the original results of Fama and French, Jegadeesh and Titman, Lakonishok, Vishny and Shleifer — and even yours truly and others — were the result of data mining, you have been completely defeated on the field of financial battle, and you must stop.