Posts in Research Insights

Trend-Following with Valeriy Zakamulin: Moving Average Basics (Part 1)

July 14, 2017

One of the basic principles of technical analysis is that ``prices move in trends". Traders firmly believe that these trends can be identified in a timely manner and used to generate profits and limit losses. Consequently, trend following is the most widespread market timing strategy; it tries to jump on a trend and ride it. Specifically, when stock prices are trending upward (downward), it's time to buy (sell) the stock. Even though trend following is very simple in concept, its practical realization is complicated. One of the major difficulties is that stock prices fluctuate wildly due to imbalances between supply and demand and due to constant arrival of new information about company fundamentals. These up-and-down fluctuations make it hard to identify turning points in a trend. Moving averages are used to ``smooth" the stock price in order to highlight the underlying trend.

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1042 Exchange: Navigating Between a Rock and a Hard Place

June 20, 2017

This particular Greek dilemma is what came to mind when I first encountered an ESOP. I observed that business owners who sold shares to an ESOP seemed, like Odysseus, to find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They could elect to pursue a 1042 exchange and bypass the Scylla of capital gains taxes, but in doing so they had to roll their sale proceeds into qualified replacement property. That path would likely lead to the Charybdis of Floating Rate Notes. These special ESOP bonds are the predominant 1042 exchange asset in the marketplace, a fact that belies their relative shortcomings as an investment asset. Just how unattractive floating rate notes are, and why they became the default 1042 rollover strategy among financial advisors, is the subject of this article. However, unlike Odysseus, business owners seeking to implement 1042 exchanges have more affordable and transparent paths to navigate between a rock and a hard place.

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The Dividend Disconnect: Behavioral Finance Strikes Again

June 2, 2017

The first prediction in the paper is that "Capital Gains and Dividends Viewed as Distinct Desirable Attributes". But what does that mean? The authors highlight that when assessing stock positions, an investor has two options for how to assess the performance -- (1) simple price appreciation/depreciation or (2) total return. Note that price appreciation/depreciation is simply the price appreciation/depreciation on the position, while total return includes both the price appreciation/depreciation plus the dividend return. Directly from the paper: For many positions, either price changes or returns including dividends will yield the same category of gain or loss. However, some positions are at a gain when dividends are included, but at a loss without their inclusion. Do investors treat such positions as being at a gain or at a loss when evaluating whether to sell the position? This is equivalent to asking whether investors adjust for the mechanical decrease in shares price that results from dividend payments.

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