31 May 2016

Lessons from Lawn Care

Three or four years ago, I gave up cutting the grass, which I wasn’t too happy about because I really liked seeing a physical change to my yard after a few hours of work. I love my job, but at the end of a year, the numbers on a screen may have changed, but they are still numbers on a screen.  It’s simply not as inherently satisfying. In any case,… Read More

20 May 2016

Know A Banker? Love a Banker?

Yesterday, Ryan Craft and Cliff Reynolds sent out their email newsletter, ALM Insights.  If you don’t know what ALM stands for, it just means that you’re not a banker (it stands for Asset Liability Management). As you know, banks take deposits from folks like you and me and lend the money out to consumers and businesses.  But they can’t loan out all of the money that they take in, they… Read More

19 May 2016

Yield Curve Swiftly Shifting

When looking at the shape of the yield curve it’s easy to see that a lot has changed. Low yields overall have certainly pinched bond investors and made them look elsewhere for returns, but not all investors are so flexible. For banks who are restricted in terms of the investments that they are allowed to hold, the decision of where in the bond market to invest is an important one… Read More

19 May 2016

Fed Minutes Suggest Markets May Wrong

The FOMC minutes release was the macro focus of the day.  The minutes said that most participants judged that if second quarter data showed a pickup in economic growth, then a rate increase might be appropriate. Given the weak first quarter and that live tracking estimates of current growth are much better, the statement strongly implies a June hike. The FOMC members observed that the labor market continues to improve… Read More

17 May 2016

PIMCO Shows that Discipline Can Pay Off

Lately, I’ve been interested in looking at strategies that have struggled in the past, in part because some of our strategies are struggling right now. Take value, for example, the strategy of buying cheap stocks with the idea that they outperform the overall market over time.  It’s a tried and true approach dating back to the 1930s, but the last year has been so rough that the 10-year track record… Read More

16 May 2016

Buffett Considers 2nd Tech Investment

Last December, I wrote that fading internet stock Yahoo was trading below the sum of its parts. You can read the whole article here, but the basic idea was that when you looked at the component value of Yahoo’s major parts, the market was saying that the core business was worthless. At that time, Yahoo owned stock in Alibaba worth $32 billion, stock in Yahoo Japan worth $8.5 billion and cash… Read More

13 May 2016

Forced Sales are Fire Sales

Acropolis diversifies in more ways than you may realize.  In addition to the well known methods like single company exposure, sector, industry, geography, creditworthiness and asset classes, we also diversify by risk factors. I’ve written about the equity factors that we use (see a list of our primers on size, value, momentum and quality here), but I think it’s also important to note that there are some factors that we avoid…. Read More

11 May 2016

Do Behavioral Biases Matter?

It’s the second to last day here in Montreal and there is a recurring subject that I have noticed popping up in many of the sessions here at the conference – Behavioral Biases. In the investing world this refers to the psychology behind investor behavior and the effect that widespread decision making can have on markets. As an investor it’s important to understand them because they really do matter. First,… Read More

10 May 2016

Is Acropolis Contrarian?

Today I attended a session on Contrarian Value Investing. During the speakers prepared remarks I began to think about whether our investment philosophy here at Acropolis could be characterized as contrarian. It’s easy to say that we are value investors. We have value biases in many of our stock asset classes, and by a slightly different definition we invest fixed income dollars with a value bias too. But are we… Read More

9 May 2016

Mindfulness Meditation in Montreal

I suppose that the event planners at the CFA Institute know better than to cram too much technical material into the first day of a conference, especially on a Sunday. For one of the first sessions they invited Jeremy Hunter, a professor at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management and expert in the field of applying mindfulness meditation in business. Jeremy has spent the last 3-years developing a mindfulness… Read More