David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    A Quick Survey of "Broken" Asset Classes

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Research Affiliates which may be of interest. Here is a section:

    We recognize the substantial survivorship bias in our survey, having personally survived most of these episodes ourselves! So, to be more comprehensive, we also plot other periods when these asset classes fell within their lowest decile of historical three-year rolling absolute returns.6 A similar pattern unfolds. A large majority, or 88%, of all observations (43 of 49) deliver a positive five-year return. The average five-year cumulative return across all observations is 80%, or approximately 12% a year, suggesting both the presence and strength of mean reversion.

    How do the asset classes perform on a relative basis? Recall that the broken asset classes in our survey had mostly fallen short of the performance of the S&P 500 in the years leading up to the proclamation they were broken. In the subsequent three years, these asset classes surpassed the performance of US stocks on a cumulative basis by an average of 45%, or 13% a year. After five years, the cumulative excess return of REITS, commodities, small value stocks, and high-yield bonds versus the S&P 500 averaged 101%, or 15% a year. Over this five-year span, the four asset classes fared significantly better than US stocks, with cumulative excess returns ranging from 10% (high-yield bonds) to 158% (commodities).

    The press is often quick to label asset classes broken. Rarely is this the case, although exceptions do exist. For instance, the German and Russian stock markets during World War I, Japanese and German stock markets during World War II, and the Egyptian stock market in the early 1950s all collapsed. The near-obliteration of a stock market has happened, but it is an extraordinary occurrence.

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    Are you reframing your future or is the future reframing you?

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Ernst and Young. Here is a section on financial statistics:

    To some extent, technology can help meet these new challenges. The costs of data collection and analysis are falling rapidly thanks to Internet of Things and AI. Satellites and sensors, for example, can generate highly accurate real-time data. A broader corporate data strategy aimed at collecting social and environmental cost data, in addition to the well-being of employees and local communities, might help fill significant gaps in measurement. Useful new corporate reporting that details progress toward a broader business purpose means building the prerequisite data capabilities first.

    Governments also have an opportunity to leverage data generating technologies to enhance feedback. More than 20 countries from Singapore to Sweden have “smart city” initiatives, demonstrating how better measurement through data can improve public safety and citizen services, albeit not without risks. The UK’s National Health Service has dozens of partnerships with leading technology companies analyzing the vast troves of patient data to support the provision of its services.109 And big data techniques have also proved a significant part of the policymaking process when fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries that successfully implemented track and-trace techniques using smartphones fared better in managing the deadly outbreak.

    An inflection point is approaching, driven by necessity. Our industrial-era metrics are misaligned with the needs of a knowledge-based economy characterized by widespread technological disruption. We are on the cusp of a significant change in the way societies make policy and conduct business. Companies will either evolve to realign with new values, or risk dissolving as their social contract is withdrawn. There is no looking back.

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    Hong Kong Files First Charges Under New Law, Bans Rallying Cry

    This article by Iain Marlow and Natalie Lung for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    “Hong Kong should be able to continue to enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of press, of publications, protest, assembly and so on,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters after it took effect, adding international agreements on civil rights allowed restrictions to ensure national security. “Where it is for the protection of national security, then sometimes some of these rights could be restrained in accordance with the law.”

    The Hong Kong Bar Association said this week it was “gravely concerned” about the law and its broadly defined criminal offenses.

    “These are widely drawn and absent a clear and comprehensive array of publicly accessible guidelines and basic safeguards as to legal certainty and fair treatment, are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights,” the group said in a statement. “Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarize themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offenses it creates before it came into force.”

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    Email of the day - on a stay at home index

    “Are you able to create a Work From Home/Stay at Home index for you/us to track on a regular basis. Today has been another big day for many of these stocks with Shopify for example up another 7% in here today, clearing the $1,000 level, Netflix up 5%, Amazon 4%, Peloton up 4, DocuSign up 4, and Wayfair 11%! Regretfully I’m not involved in any of these as I can’t get my head around valuations. When will this madness stop?”

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    China in counterfeit gold scandal as Wuhan company uses fake bars to gain $4.1bn in loans

    This article from smallcaps.au may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The story broke after a Beijing-based website investigated complaints and then posted the news under the headline: “The mystery of [US]$2 billion of loans backed by fake gold”.

    Kingold is denying it lodged fake bars with Chinese lenders such as China Minsheng Trust, Hengfeng Bank, Dongguan Trust and Bank of Zhangjiakou. The trust companies involved are largely what are known as “shadow banks”.

    The alleged scam came to light earlier this year when Kingold defaulted on loans to Dongguan Trust. The gold bars pledged as collateral turned out to be gilded copper alloy. Minsheng Trust’s “gold” bars have also turned out to be copper alloy under the gilded surface.


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