Posts by Larry Swedroe

Swedroe Spotlight: Does Market Sentiment Help Explain Momentum?

April 17, 2017

David Smith, Na Wang, Ying Wang and Edward Zychowicz contribute to the literature on momentum with their paper, “Sentiment and the Effectiveness of Technical Analysis: Evidence from the Hedge Fund Industry,” which was published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis. Their work examines how investor sentiment affects the effectiveness of technical analysis strategies (which include the use of moving averages as well as momentum) used by hedge funds (which are considered sophisticated investors). The study was motivated by prior research that has focused on “investor sentiment,” which is the propensity of individuals to trade on noise and emotions rather than facts. Sentiment causes investors to have beliefs about future cash flows and investment risks that aren’t justified. Two researchers, Malcolm Baker and Jeffrey Wurgler, constructed an investor sentiment index based on six measures: trading volume as measured by NYSE turnover; the dividend premium (the difference between the average market-to-book ratio of dividend-payers and non-payers); the closed-end fund discount; the number and first-day returns of IPOs; and the equity share in new issues. Data is available at through Wurgler and New York University.

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Swedroe Spotlight: Explaining the Low Risk Effect

February 21, 2017

Before proceeding, it’s important to note that beta and volatility are related, though not the same. Beta depends on volatility and correlation to the market, whereas volatility is related to idiosyncratic risk (see here for an explanation of how to calculate the different measures). The superior performance of low-volatility and low-beta stocks was first documented in the literature in the 1970s — by Fischer Black (in 1972) among others — even before the size and value premiums were “discovered.” And the low-volatility anomaly has been shown to exist in equity markets around the world. Interestingly, this finding is true not only for stocks, but for bonds as well. In other words, it has been pervasive.

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