Today's Post

    Cause and Effect: Or, Shooting the Messenger Not even Schrodinger blamed the reporters for market irrationality. Saying out loud, "Hey, this cat is dead," doesn't kill the cat.

    One of the oldest sorts of “media criticism” is the argument that reporting on something bad causes that bad thing. If only there were fewer news reports about violence … or embezzlement …or Ponzi schemes… it wouldn’t occur to anyone to act violently, embezzle money, or pay out earlier investors from the cash received from later investors. Put that baldly, such assertions seem absurd. It isn’t difficult, though, to dress such a notion up in sensible sounding, even scholarly, garb. In my own humble opinion, however dressed up, this notion that reporting X causes X is still and always fallacious. Yes, I suppose, there may be times when observing X causes X. According to a venerable thought experiment still used to explain quantum mechanics to undergraduates, an observer who looks into a box under certain hypothetical circumstances will not only see a dead cat, he will by observing the deceased feline make himself a cause of its demise. Still, not even Schrodinger blamed the reporter. Saying out loud, “hey, this cat is ...

Featured Post

The Skorina Report: A Look at the New Investment Crew at NYU

Charles Skorina looks at the new crew at NYU.

New York University opened its doors in 1831 and it's now the biggest private college in the country by enrollment. But their $3.4 billion endowment is relatively small for a large private US university (it's only the 28th-largest) and its performance hasn't been very impressive. We've paid much more attention to their uptown rival, Columbia University, whose $9.2 billion endowment is bigger, higher-performing, and officially Ivy League.  We ranked Columbia and Yale tied for number one by 10-year performance in our annual ...

The Skorina Report: The Best, The Rest & Our Pick for Public Endowment CIO of Decade

Charles Skorina looks at the top public endowments and discusses performance with Erik Lundberg.

This month we are pleased to bring you our annual survey of endowment performance at the Public Ivys, including many of America’s biggest, most prestigious, and best-endowed public universities. We think the performance of these endowments ought to be of interest not only to the endowment and foundation community, but to the investment world at large.  They include some extremely talented people getting results which rival investment organizations anywhere. And, they are important clients for many for-profit money managers all over the ...

Guest Posts

The Skorina Report: Risky Business–Chief Investment Officers and Public Pension Plans
Guest columnist Charles Skorina with a cautionary tale of greed and deceit and less-than-best practices at a large public pension plan.

Happy August! This is supposed to be the slow season in the media biz as torpid reporters and readers doze through late summer, but a story in the Wall Street Journal last week caught our eye. The headline read: "Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane Charged With Obstruction, Perjury." The story even got big play in London where the Daily Mail gave it a lot of ink with many pictures of Ms. Kane wearing a smart white-on-white outfit for her day in court. Just another ...

Risk management

An Overview of Real Asset Investing
Guest columnist Andrew Smith, CAIA, provides an overview of real assets and their commensurate risks and rewards.

By Andrew Smith, CAIA Institutional investors are significantly increasing their allocations to real assets.   What do they know that the broad investor pubic does not?    How are they utilizing real assets to protect the value of their portfolios in downturns and to increase growth in bull markets?   In this article, we answer these questions as well as discuss the numerous benefits, as well as the risks, of real asset investing. What are Real Assets? Real assets cover a broad range of tangible, and some intangible, hard assets. Basically, real assets ...

Socially responsible investing

When Underfunded Pension Funds Take Up Social Responsibility Investing
In November 2014, Scott Stringer, New York City's Comptroller, launched a campaign he called the Boardroom Accountability Project. Bernard Sharfman makes a case that this BAP is a good example of much that is wrong with institutional/activist investing today.

A fascinating blog post by Bernard Sharfman takes a skeptical look at the activist investing of public pension funds, especially in the context of proxy access. Sharfman, a prominent corporate-governance theorist with the George Mason University School of Business, takes a laissez-faire view of the field of corporate governance considered as a whole. We’ll get back to that Big Picture point, but for now let us look at the detail work. Sharfman, in this posting for the R Street blog, is clearly unhappy that the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken to ...

Risk management

Weintraub of GFT: Basel III Coming Into Force by Increments
Faille spoke recently to Herman Weintraub, executive director and head of alternative investment practices at GFT, about the impact of the Basel III rule changes upon the HF industry. Weintraub says, one ought to look not at the parts, but at the whole.

    Source: JPMorgan investor Services white paper, Leveraging the Leverage Ratio, Appendix   Almost a year ago now, the U.S. banking agencies issued a final rule implementing one important chunk of Basel III, the Liquidity Coverage Ratio, though the agreement provides for “final adjustments” to be made in 2017, depending on experience between now and then. Another chunk, the conservation buffer, is scheduled for phase-in starting next year and continuing into 2019. The LCR is the first international attempt to micro-manage the liquidity buffers of lenders. It will have a great impact on banks, and ...

Hedge Fund Strategies

Eurekahedge: The Markets are Reading the Headlines
In the three month period that ends with July, Eurekahedge’s Greater China Index (which has 85 constituents) is down 9.39%. That has come about for precisely the reasons that a reader of the pertinent headlines would guess.

A new report from Eurekahedge gives a new perspective to the dawning realization that China’s real economy is in, well, real trouble. The report states as a “key takeaway,” that hedge funds globally were up 0.38% in July, and that the industry’s assets under management grew by $100 billion in 2015 year to date. Another potentially cheering fact: half of that AUM growth came from new investors. But China-mandated hedge funds haven’t shared in the global good news. They were down 8.33% in July 2015, the worst monthly result in more than ...

Hedge Fund Industry Trends

CFTC Exempts ASX Clear from DCO Registration
The CFTC has issued its first exemption from the CDO registration mandate under 5b (h). The successful petition for that exemption, from ASX Clear, has the additional merit of having inspired an idiosyncratic seeming, but concise, comment letter, quoted in full here.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, on Aug. 19, exempted ASX Clear (Futures) from the obligation to register as a derivatives clearing organization with regard to swaps, “including, but not limited to, interest rate swaps denominated in U.S. dollars, Euros, Japanese yen, British pounds, Australian dollars, and New Zealand dollars.”  This concludes a process that inspired one commenter to quote hedge fund manager Paul Singer. ASX (Clear) is part of Australia’s ASX Group, a sizeable market operator ...

Risk management

Study Says The Gold Bugs are Right
Gold seems, to a larger extent than silver, and even more so to an extent larger than is true for palladium or platinum, to work as a true financial asset: decoupled from price developments in the commodity markets. It succeeds as a hedge against currency and stock-market trouble.

Lognormal trickery tends to smooth out price charts. That’s one of the irreverent thoughts that came to mind as I read a recent study of one of the perennial arguments of gold bugs has stood up to empirical testing. Three German scholars, Christian Pierdzioch, Marian Rose, and Sebastian Rohloff, argue on the basis of “Bayesian additive regression trees,” a machine-learning algorithm, that “gold and silver investments are a strong hedge against exchange rate movements of the ...

Media Coverage of Hedge Funds

Hedge Fund Assets to Increase a Quarter Trillion Dollars by Summer of 2016
Guest columnist Don Steinbrugge on why hedge fund AUM is set for an increase over the course of the next 12 months.

By Don Steinbrugge, CFA This is an update to an article I wrote last summer explaining why the hedge fund industry assets were reaching all-time highs, despite underperforming the S&P 500 index. This is more relevant today as hedge fund industry assets continue to set new records.  There has been a constant flow of negative stories about the hedge fund industry over the past couple years including the insider trading scandals, hedge fund fees being  too ...


Another Southeast Asia Currency Crisis
China's moves in recent days seem likely to set off a new Southeast Asia currency crisis, which will look a lot like the old Southeast Asia currency crisis. This was clear even on August 11th, when traders in the rest of the world were apparently working on the premise that China's move that day was a one-off.

It seems the 1990s never ended. One party has a presidential candidate named Bush, another has a candidate named Clinton; “Full House” is making a comeback, motorists are enjoying unexpectedly low gasoline prices and … the graybeards in and around Washington and London are worried about the currencies of Southeast Asia. Of course, the 1990s Asia currency crises and those now unfolding are somewhat different. But only just enough to re-assure us that reality moves in ...