Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Bond prices were in both positive and negative territory today, with the yield of two-year Treasuries settling up 8 basis points, the highest level in four and a half years. Bond traders are uncertain of the direction of interest rates leading into the Federal Reserve meetings this week. So will the Fed raise interest rates this week? Yes, No, No, Yes.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
A recent article discusses the correlation that various stocks have with Apple and some of the stocks are surprising. For example, industrial products manufacturer Illinois Tool Works (ITW) has the highest correlation at .61. Payment technology firm Fiserv and Honeywell have the next highest correlations with Apple. Facebook and Texas Instruments also have high correlations with Apple, which is expected since Facebook is a tech stock and Texas Instruments is a major supplier to Apple. By now, we hope you understand how important correlation is to diversification, but, as with most numbers, we need to apply economic rationale to the numbers. There is no reason that ITW and Fiserv should have such high correlations with Apple, and in the future, these correlations will likely fall. Remember, what we really want is the correlations going forward, not correlations in the past. As Eric Chemi, the author of the article, states in the accompanying video: "That's where the data can get you and I think people need to be careful to not get trapped in these types of numbers."
When a company makes an announcement, most people do not consider that many of these announcements are in fact real options. For example, yesterday Macy's made two separate announcements that are both real options. First, the company announced that it would close 35-40 underperforming stores, the option to abandon. Next, the company announced that it would open Best Buy outlets in 10 of its stores. While this is a small capital budgeting decision, it is an option to expand as Macy's and Best Buy both hope the combination is successful, in which case more Macy's will feature a Best Buy outlet.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The VIX, which measures the volatility of the S&P 500, has recently had an increased volatility, reaching levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008. The level of the VIX is still in the area that generally occurs when the economy is in a recession. A JPMorgan analyst argued that the increased volatility was the result of price-insensitive traders who had "trend following strategies (CTAs), risk parity portfolios, and volatility managed strategies", all of which served to increase market volatility.