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Perspective

Volatility Laundering

While not alone, I have become one of the chief gadflies of the private equity industry. But I’m a selective gadfly. The illiquidity and non-marking that comes with private investments used to be acknowledged as a bug. These days, however, this same bug is sold as a feature – and sometimes, as in a recent Institutional Investor op-ed, brazenly so. My response in II covers what I think are the increasingly harmful ramifications of taking as reality the unrealistically smoothed returns that private strategies are all-too-happy to report.

Alternative Thinking

Should Your Portfolio Protection Work Fast or Slow?

2022’s drawdown provides a clear picture for the types of strategies that can actually deliver in a “slow burn” market downturn. While some options-based strategies have generated positive returns, in many cases they have disappointed. In contrast, trend following strategies have generally posted very strong returns. Looking ahead, many of the macro conditions that have been advantageous to trend following are still in place—and have historically tended to persist.

Journal Article

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.

Quick Clips

Quick Clips: New Rules of Diversification

Hear from AQR's Portfolio Solutions Group on the the prospects for stock and bond markets, the impact of macroeconomic risks on a range of investments, and the use of diversifying investments to fortify portfolios.

Alternative Thinking

New Rules of Diversification

During the first half of 2022, equity markets tumbled around 20% from their peak, with losses on typical stock/ bond portfolios almost as large. More worryingly, this type of downturn may be unfamiliar to many younger investors: with inflation still high, there is little prospect of central banks riding to the market’s rescue. We assess the prospects for stock and bond markets after the H1 selloff, consider the impact of macroeconomic risks on a range of investments, and explore the use of diversifying investments to fortify portfolios.

Journal Article

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.

Quick Clips

Quick Clips: The Stock/Bond Correlation

For the past two decades, the stock/bond correlation (SBC) has been consistently negative, and investors have been able to rely on their bond investments for portfolio protection when equities sell off. However, macroeconomic changes – like heightened inflation risk – could push this key asset allocation input into positive territory.

Journal Article

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.

Journal Article

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.

White Paper

Building a Better Commodities Portfolio

Interest in commodities is rising again, thanks to their tendency to be particularly strong diversifiers during periods of rising or volatile inflation. We review what a “best-in-class” commodity portfolio looks like by exploring three potential enhancements to a passive approach to the asset class.