Jason Zweig: Use Simple Tests Before Investing in a Quant Fund

In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Zweig offers some tips on how an investor can devise his own quant strategy. “Perhaps it is cheaper to learn from the quants than to hire them,” he argues. Zweig shares findings of a Duke University group of researchers that found, during the period from 1996 to 2014, “systematic funds (which describe themselves with such words as ‘algorithmic’, ‘computer-driven’, or ‘statistical’) performed about the same… Read More

“Superstocks” Like Amazon are Hard to Find

Scoring a winning stock such as Amazon is exceedingly hard to do, writes Jason Zweig in a recent Wall Street Journal article. While it might not be useless to try, Zweig argues, “many investors are going about it the wrong way.” Zweig explains that, from 1926 through 2015, Amazon was one of the mere 30 stocks (out of 25,782 publicly traded companies) that accounted for one-third of the cumulative wealth created by the U.S. stock… Read More

Jason Zweig Says Active Managers Also Underperform in Down Markets

Although the data continues to show that stock pickers have underperformed the market, writes Jason Zweig in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “active managers insist that they will make a comeback.” The article cites data provided this month by Bank of America Merrill Lynch that shows “63% of active fund managers investing in large U.S. stocks outperformed their benchmarks in April, the best since February 2015.” Active managers, writes Zweig, claim that the pricey… Read More

Jason Zweig on Potential Quantitative Model Crisis

A Ph.D. in Economics and former senior risk manager for Bridgewater Associates, Richard Bookstaber argues that while human judgment along with quantitative modeling can lead to better results than either alone, “when humans put blind faith in quantitative models, that’s dangerous.” This according to Jason Zweig in this month’s Wall Street Journal. The article discusses Bookstaber’s new book, The End of Theory, in which the author argues that computers and mathematical models perform well when… Read More

Zweig: Emerging Markets Look Good, But Don’t Rush In

Funds are pouring into emerging market funds, with one-twelfth of total holdings having come in over the past 90 days, writes Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. Presumably, he says, the heavy inflow is in “hot pursuit of high recent returns” (the asset class is up 12.4% this year). While participating in these funds is a good idea, Zweig says, investors should be careful not to rush in. “These stocks aren’t so much absolutely… Read More

WSJ’s Jason Zweig on American Capitalism

The notion of capitalism as a mechanism in which “fat and happy” companies become acquisition targets is changing, writes Jason Zweig in last week’s Wall Street Journal. Zweig cites new research that shows “U.S. companies are moving toward a winner-take-all system in which giants get stronger, not weaker, as they grow.” A few “superstar firms,” he says, have evolved to dominate and crowd out competitors. Twenty years ago, he writes, the U.S. had more than… Read More

Zweig: Guard Against Following the Herd

Given the market’s currently stretched valuations, optimistic investors should be on their guard, says Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. Zweig discusses new findings that show how the confidence of others can influence an individual’s decision-making to a larger degree than their own can. According to a recent report in the Journal of Neuroscience, there is a particular region of the human brain that monitors how positive other people are about their choices, writes… Read More

Zweig Says Fees Should be Linked to Performance

The practice by many fund managers of charging flat fees to clients regardless of their performance isn’t fair to investors, says Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. The tides are changing, he says, but not quickly enough. Federal law allows a mutual fund to raise fees when it outperforms, but only if it lowers fees by the same amount should it underperform (a so-called “fulcrum fee”). However, Zweig writes, this isn’t the norm, and… Read More

Jason Zweig on Investing Fact Versus Fiction

The human mind seeks to “confirm its pre-existing beliefs while ignoring warning signs that we might be wrong,” writes Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. He uses the example of the surprise Trump win to illustrate how people avoid admitting that they were wrong. “If it requires fibbing to ourselves,” writes Zweig, “so be it.” Psychologists define the brain’s tendencies using the terms confirmation bias and hindsight bias. The first drives us to find… Read More

Zweig on Investing Vs. Speculating

Every asset, writes Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal, “is an investment in some people’s hands and a speculation in others’. So it isn’t what you buy, but rather why you buy it, that determines whether you are investing or speculating.” Zweig explains that this distinction, which is often credited to legendary investor Benjamin Graham, may be flawed in that an investment can in fact be speculative in nature or actually resemble a hybrid… Read More