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Monthly Macro: Policy Downshift

Our Monthly Macro is a recurring post that appears on the first Tuesday of every month and recaps the high level macro developments of the previous month. We highlight the global themes that we believe are the most important and discuss why they matter for investors. This month’s piece will focus on the long-awaited Fed taper, Washington’s budget deal and the skyrocketing stock market.

A Hedge(d) Fund

In 1949 Alfred Jones launched what is now considered the first hedge fund. Over the years the hedge fund industry has expanded dramatically to include a wide variety of strategies; many of which look nothing like Jones’ original fund. But there are funds today that still hedge their portfolio using the traditional long/short construction.

Stock Market Sniper

The 361 Managed Futures Fund can be thought of as a stock market sniper as it patiently waits in cash for the opportunity to take a shot. The premise of the strategy is that one need not be exposed to the risk embedded in the stock market 100% of the time in order to capture the lion’s shares of the returns.

Nuclear Default

The historical record clearly shows that the politicization of the debt ceiling that we are seeing today is nothing new. That said, we are closer to an actual default today than we have been in the past, and the chasm separating democrats and republicans on this issue has caused nearly the entire globe to begin asking tough questions. A US default…what does that even mean?

Don't Leave Money On The Table

We are constantly asked whether clients should be funneling money into a 401k, an IRA, or simply saving their money in a taxable account. Although the circumstances and goals/objectives of each client are different, this week we cover some basic “rules of thumb” for retirement savings.

Monthly Macro: Green Shoots, Meet Congress

The month of September brought a slew of positive marginal changes in global economic data, the FOMC decided to leave its quantitative easing program unchanged at $85 billion a month, and Congress decided to embark on the "Shutdown Showdown."

Dual Headed Policy Monster

We have been, and continue to be, in a policy-driven market environment. While the focus has largely been on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, Washington’s fiscal policy has also been hugely influential.

A Dangerous Game Of Chicken

After a relatively quiet 5-week summer recess, we expect the conversation in Washington to heat back up once Congress is back in session on September 9th. With exactly three weeks remaining in the fiscal year, the house, senate and white house will have to work together on a FY2014 spending plan or face a government shut down on October 1st.

Is Diversification Dead?

True diversification is achieved by owning investments across multiple asset classes with low correlation to one another, but that hasn't worked over the past 18 months with stocks being "the only game in town." Is diversification dead or will "the knife cut both ways" for this style of investing?

Will Gold Glitter Again?

It would be an understatement to say that the gold market has struggled as of late. Friday and Monday’s two-day decline of -13.7% represented the worst two-day drop since 1980. But have the fundamentals for gold really changed that quickly or is something else driving the price movement?

An Emerging Dichotomy

Since the financial crisis the reasons for favoring EM have changed. In a world where most developed countries are struggling under the weight of excessive debt and lackluster economic growth, emerging economies stand out as a diamond in the rough, but strong economic fundamentals have not translated into outperformance for EM equities.

Achieving Real Diversification

The foundational principal of Diversification 2.0 is finding and investing in assets with low correlation to each other. A portfolio consisting of highly correlated investments is nothing more than a one directional bet on the future. The portfolio will do well in one particular environment but is exposed to a great number of risks if the world doesn't unfold as expected.

Taking the Tide at the Flood

There is a bull market in uncertainty that is unsettling for many but also creates opportunity for those willing to take the tide at the flood. This uncertainty is not unfounded, but it might be overpriced. Part of our job is to find the best way to take advantage of the “flood” in uncertainty.

The 95th Raising of the Debt Ceiling

The whole concept of the debt ceiling is a bit strange in that Congress has the power to set revenues and spending, but not the issuance of debt to fill the gap between these two. How did the debt ceiling come about and will this most recent debate over raising it for the 95th time be a game changer?

Wimpy Economics

Our modern society believes that pain and sacrifice are unnecessary evils that can be alleviated by borrowing from our future prosperity. We can think of this as Wimpy economics since we would “gladly pay you Tuesday” for a hamburger today.

The Patience of Taleb

Nassim Taleb made his fortune with an uncanny willingness to lose small amounts of money the majority of the time in order to collect a huge windfall over short, punctuated “Black Swan” events. We see XVZ as having similar characteristics to Taleb’s strategy, and therefore believe it demands patience and a long time horizon in order to prove its investment merit.

Thermonuclear Patent Wars

A wave of strategic patent acquisitions over the past 18 months bear witness to the “patent arms race” that is ensuing as technology companies scramble for ways to defend their intellectual property (IP). We became fascinated with this burgeoning trend a little over a year ago and have continually asked ourselves how we might be able to position our clients to profit from it.

3 Questions for Alternative Investments

The universe of what is considered an alternative fund is vast and growing. Three primary questions need to be answered when considering a new investment in this space.

We Are All Turning Japanese

We decided to close out our position in the Yen because our thesis for the original investment has been significantly challenged. The tailwinds which have aided the Yen over the past two decades are weakening.

Value Investors & Quants Unite

A strategy that is market neutral takes both long and short positions in order to reduce the impact of the market while capturing the relative performance spread between the long and short portfolios. If executed correctly, market neutral strategies exhibit no correlation to stocks or bonds while delivering a unique return stream based purely on the manager skill.