Asness versus Arnott: The Factor Timing Debate Continues

AQR Management founder Cliff Asness continues to argue that factor timing is “deceptively difficult,” contrary to what Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates would have you believe, says a recent article in Institutional Investor. Asness’ issue, the article says, is with Arnott’s contention that risk premia factors such as value, momentum, growth and volatility have become “overvalued as a result of the rising popularity of smart beta and factor investing strategies” and that investors should “time… Read More

Rob Arnott Says Clock is Ticking on Smart Beta ETFs

A smart-beta pioneer, Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates warns that these investment vehicles are in a bubble, says an article in last week’s Bloomberg. Smart-beta ETFs organize securities based on quantitative factors like volatility or “cheapness”, and the article explains that Arnott’s position is nothing new (he publicly battled with Cliff Asness on the topic a year ago). In fact, his firm’s website (Research Affiliates specializes in “cheap-stock” ETFs) offers investors a tool to gauge… Read More

Arnott: Emerging Markets Hold Promise

Although EM stocks have taken a beating in recent years, things may be looking up, writes Validea CEO John Reese in this week’s TheStreet. Reese offers insight from Research Affiliate’s Rob Arnott, who thinks that, notwithstanding swelled valuations (based on Shiller PE ratios), “emerging-market stocks offer an attractive combination of depressed currencies, low valuations and strong momentum.” Using his guru-based stock screening models, Reese identifies the following five picks that could be poised for growth:… Read More

Rob Arnott is Pro-Emerging Market Investment

Countries don’t have to be great to see significant market growth, according to Research Affiliates’ CEO Rob Arnott as explained in a recent Investment News article. In fact, the article says, since Arnott first recommended emerging markets in January, the “average diversified markets fund has gained 7.8%, and 17.8% since the February low.” He believes the asset class offers “an unusual three-way combination of low valuations, depressed currencies and strong momentum.” Here’s how: Low valuations:… Read More

Waiting to Exhale: What Lies Ahead After the Brexit Vote?

“The healthy economy is one that makes its own decisions,” says Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates concerning possible fallout from Britain’s vote to stay or leave the European Union. In a recent CNBC interview, Arnott shared his views on the concern around Thursday’s result and how it will impact the markets. According to Arnott, the “fear mongering” around the vote is “a little over the top.” He says, “Roll the clock forward ten years. Is… Read More

Asness and Arnott Talk Market Timing, Smart Beta and Behavioral Biases

Maybe not always. At least that was the upshot of a debate between Cliff Asness of AQR and Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates, panelists at the recent Morningstar conference in Chicago. Although they debated various topics, they seemed to agree that value stocks deserve attention when they’re cheap. According to Asness, founder and managing principal at AQR, “Timing the market is hard and we call it a sin, but we recommend that investors sin a… Read More

Are Formula-based Investment Strategies Necessarily “Smart”?

The word “smart” is thrown around a lot these days to describe phones, tables, and a host of other gadgets intended to make our life easier.  But, as we know, the mere existence of capabilities doesn’t necessarily mean those capabilities work well. Rob Arnott, founder of Research Affiliates, discussed this as it relates to the “smart beta” investment strategy. “Smart beta” describes a portfolio-building strategy that focuses on a company’s fundamentals (such as revenue, book… Read More

Time to Bottom Feed Across the Pond

The U.S. stock market is expensive and bond yields aren’t far from record lows. European and emerging market stocks, on the other hand, have approached stomach-turning status, says Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal. The European market has dropped by 12% while emerging markets have plummeted by 21.8%. Stabilized oil prices and a possible interest rate hike by the Fed has lifted investors’ outlook on these markets by a marginal 2% to 3%, but… Read More

Four Conditions Reminiscent of 1999

Rob Arnott, founder and chairman of Research Affiliates, says that the recent market environment is reminiscent of 1999, just before the tech bubble burst. Writing in Barron’s, Arnott argues that the following four “conditions parallel the extremes of the late 1990s:” “Falling inflation expectations,” which Arnott argues “snap back in reasonably short order.” He observes that “after inflation expectations hit a basement low of 0.9% in December 1998, within six months they had jumped to… Read More

Asness vs. Arnott on Smart Beta, Factor Timing, and Performance Chasing

Cliff Asness, co-founder of AQR Capital Management, added fuel to the debate over “smart beta” investing with a recent paper attacking arguments made by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates. Arnott, once understood as a proponent of smart beta approaches due to his research and development of fundamental indexing, claimed that many smart beta exchange traded funds “have succeeded solely because they have become more and more expensive.” In an argument that Asness describes as alarmist,… Read More