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Equity Premium

Governments are largely insulated from market forces. Companies are not. Investments in stocks therefore carry substantial risk in comparison with holdings of government bonds, notes or bills. The marketplace presumably rewards risk with extra return. How much of a return premium should investors in equities expect? These blog entries examine the equity risk premium as a return benchmark for equity investors.

Risk-based Allocation to Frontier Equity Markets

What is the best way to include the least developed (frontier) stock markets for portfolio diversification? In his December 2011 paper entitled “Frontier Markets: Punching Below their Weight? A Risk Parity Perspective on Asset Allocation”, Jorge Chan-Lau compares the diversification effects of frontier markets within a world equity portfolio based on risk parity and market capitalization weighting approaches. Risk parity equalizes risk contributions across equity classes by assigning the same risk budget to each asset based on co-movement between the asset’s returns and the portfolio returns. The asset allocation comparison assumes five major equity classes: U.S., European including the UK, East Asia and Far East, emerging markets and frontier markets. Co-movement of asset and portfolio returns derive from weekly return measurements over five-year rolling historical windows. Using weekly returns in U.S. dollars for each equity class based on corresponding Morgan Stanley Capital Indexes during June 2002 through November 2011, he finds that: Keep Reading

Stocks versus Bonds as Investment Horizon Lengthens

Should investors believe in the superiority of stocks for the long run and bonds for the short run? In his December 2011 paper entitled “Stocks, Bonds, Risk, and the Holding Period: An International Perspective”, Javier Estrada examines how the absolute and relative risks of stocks and bonds evolve as investment horizon grows (time diversification). Considering both annual and cumulative returns and various measures of variability/risk, he focuses on the question of whether stocks become less risky than bonds for long holding periods. Using annual total returns for stocks and bonds in 19 countries during 1900 through 2009, he finds that: Keep Reading

Alpha in Emerging Markets?

Are the least developed markets also the least efficient, and therefore the best places to look for alpha? Two recent papers address this question for large, sophisticated investors (institutional funds). In the October 2011 version of their paper entitled “Does Active Management Pay? New International Evidence”, Alexander Dyck, Karl Lins and Lukasz Pomorski examine the performance of the passive and active equity segments of large pension plans allocated to U.S., developed Europe, Australasia and Far East (EAFE) and emerging markets. In the November 2011 version of his paper entitled “Is There Any Alpha in Institutional Emerging Market Equity Funds?”, Wenling Lin examines the performance of institutional emerging market fund managers. Using data from the 1990s and 2000s, they find that: Keep Reading

Frontier Market Costs and Benefits

Do relatively high trading frictions in the least developed equity markets offset associated diversification benefits? In the October 2011 version of their paper entitled “Frontier Market Diversification and Transaction Costs”, Ben Marshall, Nhut Nguyen and Nuttawat Visaltanachoti examine this trade-off in 19 frontier stock markets (Argentina, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and Vietnam). They first calculate each month a market capitalization-weighted stock index for each country and then combine country indexes to calculate each month both value-weighted and equal-weighted frontier market indexes. They measure trading frictions such as effective spread, quoted spread and price impact based on monthly averages from high-frequency tick data. Using monthly returns and tick-by-tick trading data for frontier market stocks starting as early as June 2002 for six countries and later for others through 2010, along with contemporaneous benchmark index data, they find that: Keep Reading

The Worldwide Equity Risk Premium

What is the state of the equity risk premium across global markets? In the October 2011 version of their paper entitled “Equity Premia Around the World”, Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton update their estimates of equity risk premiums for 19 country markets and a worldwide aggregate relative to both short-term government bills and long-term government bonds over a period of 111 years. They report local currency and dollar-based real returns and the historical equity premium for each country, and they decompose the premium into dividends, dividend growth, multiple expansion and change in real exchange rate. All aggregates are value-weighted. Using stock, bond, bill, inflation and currency returns for the period 1900 through 2010, they find that: Keep Reading

Equity Risk Premium Book Learning

What do leading textbooks have to say about the excess return you got, should expect, should require or should infer from the market for taking the risk of owning stocks? In the July 2011 version of his paper entitled “The Equity Premium in 150 Textbooks”, Pablo Fernandez reviews definitions and values of the equity risk premium offered in 150 finance and valuation textbooks published from 1979 to 2009. Based on this review, he finds that: Keep Reading

2011 Country Equity Risk Premiums from Academia and Practitioners

What are the current academic and practitioner estimates of the annual premiums over the risk-free rate demanded for each country by equity investors. In their April 2011 paper entitled “Market Risk Premium Used in 56 countries in 2011: A Survey with 6,014 Answers”, Pablo Fernandez, Javier Aguirreamalloa and Luis Corres summarize the results of a March-April 2011 email survey soliciting the Market Risk Premium (MRP) used “to calculate the required return to equity in different countries.” Based on 1,562/1,462/850 specific responses to the question from companies/analysts/professors, respectively, around the world, they find that: Keep Reading

Technical Boost to Fundamental Stock Market Forecasting?

Do technical indicators add value to fundamental indicators in assessing broad stock market valuation? In their March 2011 paper entitled “Forecasting the Equity Risk Premium: The Role of Technical Indicators”, Christopher Neely, David Rapach, Jun Tu and Guofu Zhou examine the powers of technical and fundamental indicators to predict stock market returns. They consider 12 variations of three stock market index technical indicators: (1) relative values of two moving averages (1 month versus 3, 6, 9 and 12 months); (2) return momentum (past 3, 6, 9 and 12 months); and, (3) relative values of two on-balance volume moving averages (1 month versus 3, 6, 9 and 12 months). They consider 14 fundamental indicators ranging from stock market valuation ratios to Treasury yields, yield spreads and the default spread. They compare mean squared equity risk premium forecast errors for technical and fundamental indicators to that for the historical average premium. They also compare the average utility gain for a mean-variance investor who allocates monthly between stocks and Treasury bills based on either technical or fundamental market forecasts to that for an investor who uses the historical average premium. Finally, they generate equity risk premium forecasts based on a rolling principal component analysis that encapsulates the predictive powers of the 26 technical and fundamental indicators into three or four variables. Using monthly price and volume data for the dividend-adjusted S&P 500 Index and monthly readings of the 14 U.S. fundamental indicators as available over the period 1927 through 2008 (1926-1959 for in-sample optimization and 1960–2008 for out-of-sample testing), along with NBER business expansion and contraction dates, they find that: Keep Reading

A Generation of Disappointed U.S. Equity Investors?

How have S&P 500 firms performed over the past two decades, in aggregate and individually, relative to reasonable investor expectations? In their February 2011 brief entitled “Shareholder Value Creators in the S&P 500: 1991-2010”, Pablo Fernandez, Javier Aguirreamalloa and Luis Corres tabulate the creation of value by major U.S. firms for long-term shareholders relative to a rationally constructed required rate of return for an equity investment. Using stock prices and capital flows for 644 firms assigned to the S&P 500 Index in 2004 or 2010, along with 10-year Treasury note (T-note) yields and equity risk premium estimates over the period 1991 through 2010, they find that: Keep Reading

An Era of Unstable Risk Premiums?

How stable are risk premiums? How should investors respond to instabilities? In his August 2010 paper entitled “A New ‘Risky’ World Order: Unstable Risk Premiums: Implications for Practice”, Aswath Damodaran presents approaches for estimating equity, bond and real asset risk premiums that are imprecise, unstable and linked across markets. He also explores the implications of dynamic, linked premiums for asset allocation, market timing and asset valuation. Using long-run data for all three asset classes, he concludes that: Keep Reading

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