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Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for October 2023 (Final)

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for October 2023 (Final)
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Economic Indicators

The U.S. economy is a very complex system, with indicators therefore ambiguous and difficult to interpret. To what degree do macroeconomics and the stock market go hand-in-hand, if at all? Do investors/traders: (1) react to economic readings; (2) anticipate them; or, (3) just muddle along, mostly fooled by randomness? These blog entries address relationships between economic indicators and the stock market.

EFFR and the Stock Market

Do changes in the Effective Federal Funds Rate (EFFR), the actual cost of short-term liquidity derived from a combination of market demand and Federal Reserve open market operations designed to maintain the Federal Funds Rate (FFR) target, predictably influence the U.S. stock market over horizons up to a few months? To investigate, we relate smoothed (volume-weighted median) monthly levels of EFFR to monthly U.S. stock market returns (S&P 500 Index or Russell 2000 Index) over available sample periods. Using monthly data as specified since July 1954 for EFFR and the S&P 500 Index (limited by EFFR) and since September 1987 for the Russell 2000 Index, all through June 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Long-run Slowdown in U.S. Equity Market Ahead?

During 1989 through 2019, the S&P 500 Index generated 5.5% real annual return, compared to just 2.5% annual real growth in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). How can this disconnect happen? Can it continue? In the June 2023 version of his paper entitled “End of an Era: The Coming Long-Run Slowdown in Corporate Profit Growth and Stock Returns”, Michael Smolyansky examines interactions between U.S. stock market performance and declines in interest rates and corporate tax rates over the last three decades. He focuses on S&P 500 non-financial stocks adjusted for index additions/deletions and for changes in firm shares outstanding, allowing computation of per share metrics. He decomposes stock returns into: (1) change in price-earnings ratio (P/E);  (2) change in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT); (3) change in interest expenses; and, (4) change in effective corporate tax rate. Using the specified annual data during 1962 through 2019, he finds that: Keep Reading

Predicted Firm Default Spikes and Future Asset Returns

Does an expectation of an unusually large number of firm defaults in the coming year usefully predict stock and bond market returns? In their May 2023 paper entitled “Systematic Default and Return Predictability in the Stock and Bond Markets”, Jack Bao, Kewei Hou and Shaojun Zhang apply an iterative process to estimate the probability that non-financial, non-microcap firms will default during the next year due to exposures to common shocks. The main inputs for their estimate are: (1) firm-level balance sheets and past stock returns; and, as common shocks, (2) past stock market returns. They relate estimated next-year default rate probability, focusing on a threshold of 2% of firms, to future stock market and corporate bond market index returns at horizons from one month to five years. They conduct in-sample tests of the default rate probability-index return relationships based on all data. They conduct out-of-sample index return predictions based on inception-to-date data starting at the sample half-way point. For robustness, they consider default rate probability thresholds other than 2%. Using firm balance sheets/monthly stock returns, plus monthly value-weighted U.S. stock market index and Dow Jones Corporate Bond Return Index returns during March 1961 through December 2021, they find that: Keep Reading

GDP Growth and Stock Market Returns

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) each quarter estimates economic growth via changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), Private Domestic Investment (PDI) and government spending components. BEA releases advance, preliminary and final data about one, two and three months after quarter ends, respectively. Do these estimates of economic growth usefully predict stock market returns? To investigate, we relate economic growth metrics to S&P 500 Index returns. Using quarterly and annual seasonally adjusted nominal final GDP data from BEA National Income and Product Accounts Table 1.1.5 as available during January 1929 through May 2023 and contemporaneous levels of the S&P 500 Index, we find that:

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U.S. Debt Ceiling Changes and the U.S. Stock Market

How does the U.S. stock market typically react to U.S. debt ceiling discussions/actions? To investigate, we look at cumulative S&P 500 Index returns around actions to change the debt ceiling. Using daily S&P 500 Index returns and debt ceiling action dates during mid-June 1940 through May 2023 (90 quantitative actions), we find that: Keep Reading

Yield Curve as a Stock Market Indicator

Conventional wisdom holds that a steep yield curve (wide U.S. Treasuries term spread) is good for stocks, while a flat/inverted curve is bad. Is this wisdom correct and exploitable? To investigate, we consider in-sample tests of the relationships between several yield curve metrics and future U.S. stock market returns and two out-of-sample signal-based tests. Using average monthly yields for 3-month Treasuries (T-bill), 1-year Treasuries, 3-year Treasuries, 5-year Treasuries and 10-year Treasuries (T-note) as available since April 1953, monthly levels of the S&P 500 Index since April 1953 and monthly dividend-adjusted levels of SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) since January 1993, all through March 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Expert Estimates of 2023 Country Equity Risk Premiums and Risk-free Rates

What are current estimates of equity risk premiums (ERP) and risk-free rates around the world? In their April 2023 paper entitled “Survey: Market Risk Premium and Risk-Free Rate used for 80 countries in 2023”, Pablo Fernandez, Diego García de la Garza and Javier Acin summarize results of a March 2023 email survey of international economic professors, analysts and company managers “about the Risk-Free Rate and the Market Risk Premium (MRP) used to calculate the required return to equity in different countries.” Results are in local currencies. Based on 3,812 specific and credible premium estimates spanning 80 countries for which there are at least six estimates, they find that: Keep Reading

Growth Versus Value and Interest Rates

In his 2007 book The Little Book That Makes You Rich: A Proven Market-Beating Formula for Growth Investing, expert Louis Navellier hypothesizes that growth (value) stocks tend to do relatively better when interest rates are rising (falling). Growth stocks benefit from the economic expansions associated with rising rates. Value stocks benefit from refinancing opportunities as interest rates fall. To test this hypothesis, we compare the performances of the following paired growth and value exchange-traded funds (ETF) and mutual funds as interest rates, proxied by the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note (T-note), vary:

We consider both abstract predictive power based on correlation of changes in T-note yield with future fund returns and explicit performance of a strategy that switches between value and growth according to changes in T-note yield. Using end-of-month dividend-adjusted prices for the selected funds and contemporaneous T-note yield starting January 1983 for the mutual funds (limited by FDGRX) and May 2000 for the ETFs, all through February 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

CPI and Stocks Over the Short and Intermediate Terms

Do investors reliably react over short and intermediate terms to changes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI), a logical measure of the wealth discount rate? Using monthly total and core (excluding food and energy) CPI releases (for all items, not seasonally adjusted) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and contemporaneous S&P 500 Index opens and closes during mid-January 1994 (earliest available CPI release dates) through mid-March 2023 (351 releases), we find that: Keep Reading

Weekly Economic Index and Asset Returns

The Weekly Economic Index (WEI) is a composite of weekly year-over-year percentage changes in 10 economic indicators: Redbook same-store sales; Rasmussen Consumer Index; new claims for unemployment insurance; continued claims for unemployment insurance; adjusted income/employment tax withholdings; railroad traffic originated; the American Staffing Association Staffing Index; steel production; wholesale sales of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel; and, weekly average US electricity load. Does WEI usefully predict U.S. stock market and government bond returns? To investigate, we relate WEI to performance data for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) as a proxy for the stock market and iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) as a proxy for government bonds. Since WEI measurements are nominally Saturdays but released mid-day the next Thursdays, we align its values with SPY and TLT prices as of the close on the next Thursdays. Using weekly data as described during January 2008 (limited by WEI) through mid-February 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

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