recentpopularlog in

jerryking : bear_markets   6

Store wars: short sellers expect more pain in US retail
February 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Alistair Gray in New York.

Short sellers who made big bets against US retailers a couple of years ago had hoped for carnage across the board. No one could compete with the rise and rise of Amazon...which would make life hard for every mall tenant across America.

But after a period in which internet shopping seemed to hit almost every brick-and-mortar retailer, the industry seems to be dividing into winners and losers. Casualties are still piling up: bankruptcies since the turn of the year....Payless Shoes ....Sears, the once dominant department store chain, narrowly avoided outright liquidation.

However, some of the biggest companies e.g. Walmart & Best Buy are reporting their healthiest metrics in years......For short sellers trying to profit from falling share prices, it makes for a perilous environment.

“It’s a slow death by a thousand paper cuts, and not the kind of ‘mall-mageddon’ originally anticipated by that trade,”.....“Retail has been much more volatile than many would have expected. It hasn’t been decidedly one way down.”....an over-reaction in 2017 and that led to pretty nice opportunities [for longs] in 2018,”.....Investors who put money on the demise of retail that summer have lost out in many cases......It was almost as if they [shorts] were acting like no retail real estate space can work,” ....overcapacity doesn’t mean retail real estate is dead.”...Shares in the sector have been volatile in part because investors have had to consider a series of seemingly contradictory data points about the health of both the US consumer and the retail business.....Traditional chains are also trying to take on Amazon by improving their online offerings and making their stores more enticing. Both require hefty investment, although successful examples include Lululemon, which offers yoga lessons in its stores. Shares in the company have tripled since a 2017 low.

“Those who are innovating and investing in ecommerce, marketing and social media tend to be doing well...“The US is still over-stored,” ...Ecommerce meant “more of the store base is not economic. That’s going be a secular pressure for years to come. For those retailers that don’t have a digital strategy, it’s just a matter of time before they fall.”
Amazon  apocalypses  bankruptcies  barbell_effect  bear_markets  bricks-and-mortar  commercial_real_estate  death_by_a_thousand_cuts  department_stores  digital_strategies  e-commerce  innovation  investors  investment_thesis  Lululemon  pain_points  overcapacity  retailers  shopping_malls  short_selling  structural_decline  Wal-Mart 
february 2019 by jerryking
Passive investing is storing up trouble
August 2, 2018 | Financial Times | by Megan Greene.

I was recently informed by the owner of an artificial intelligence fund that markets do not listen to economists any more. .....A fundamental shift in market structure towards rules-based, passive investing over the past decade means a lot of trading is no longer based on fundamentals. But just because some markets do not pay attention to economists, it does not mean economists should not pay attention to these markets........AI quant funds are not waiting on tenterhooks for analysis of every non-farm payrolls report, Fed press conference, Donald Trump tweet, or earnings report. Instead, they look for trading strategies that are succeeding and adopt those strategies until a better one comes along, regardless of the underlying fundamentals. But what happens when the strategy suddenly becomes to sell everything? Will the computers find the buyers they need?.......ETFs, often set up to mimic an index, have to buy more of equities rising in price, sending those stock prices even higher. ETFs similarly ignore fundamentals.....This creates a piling-on effect as funds buy more of these increasingly expensive stocks and less of the cheaper ones in their indices...Risks of a bubble arise when there is no regard for underlying fundamentals or price. It is reasonable to assume a sustained market correction would lead to stocks that were disproportionately bought because of ETFs and index funds being disproportionately sold.

But again, in a crisis will the ETF managers find liquid markets? ....Passive investors and quant funds could also threaten the economy by making markets vastly more complex, noisy and opaque. They send mixed signals to active investors about what the fair value of a stock is. That could cause a significant misallocation of capital.

The danger is exacerbated by the speed at which trading is now done. The average holding period for a security on the New York Stock Exchange has fallen from two months in 2008 to just under 20 seconds today.......Systemic failures, misallocation of capital and dried up liquidity could cause a bear market, dragging on growth when the economic backdrop is already lacklustre......So even though passive investors ignore economists, economists should pay attention to risks posed by the shift in market structure they represent....This is not to say that index funds, ETFs and AI quant funds are necessarily bad. But the real test will come when there is a sudden crisis followed by a sustained bear market.
active_investing  artificial_intelligence  bear_markets  economists  ETFs  holding_periods  index_funds  investing  liquidity  misallocations  NYSE  passive_investing  piling_on  risks  systemic_failures  rules-based  bubbles  quantitative  market_fundamentals  crisis  dark_side  pay_attention 
august 2018 by jerryking
My top 5 investing lessons after 30 years as an economist
September 25th | The Globe and Mail | DAVID ROSENBERG.

After 30 years of experience as a Street economist, you pick up a lot of learning lessons – especially from the mistakes made along the way. Here are my top five below:

* Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (concentrated portfolios but diversified geographically and across the asset classes);
* There is no such thing as a sure thing (the forecast is just a base case across a continuum of possibilities across a distribution curve);
* Marry your partner, not your forecast – it may not love you back (what gets economists into trouble is lack of humility; admitting you’re wrong is never easy);
* If you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t have a plan. If you are wrong, it is imperative to know in what direction – and delineate the new course of action;
* Anything that can’t last forever, won’t last forever.
concentration_risk  economists  investing  lessons_learned  Plan_B  diversification  Bay_Street  Wall_Street  market_corrections  bear_markets  mistakes  forecasting  economic_cycles  beyondtheU.S.  Gluskin_Sheff  David_Rosenberg  probabilities  humility  contingency_planning  never_forever  asset_classes 
september 2017 by jerryking
The Biology of Risk - NYTimes.com
By JOHN COATES JUNE 7, 2014

What is it about risk taking that so eludes our understanding, and our control?

Part of the problem is that we tend to view financial risk taking as a purely intellectual activity. But this view is incomplete. Risk is more than an intellectual puzzle — it is a profoundly physical experience, and it involves your body...Risk by its very nature threatens to hurt you, so when confronted by it your body and brain, under the influence of the stress response, unite as a single functioning unit....The state of your body predicts your appetite for financial risk just as it predicts an athlete’s performance.

If we understand how a person’s body influences risk taking, we can learn how to better manage risk takers. We can also recognize that mistakes governments have made have contributed to excessive risk taking.

Consider the most important risk manager of them all — the Federal Reserve. ...Uncertainty over the timing of something unpleasant often causes a greater challenge response than the unpleasant thing itself. Sometimes it is more stressful not knowing when or if you are going to be fired than actually being fired. Why? Because the challenge response, like any good defense mechanism, anticipates; it is a metabolic preparation for the unknown....Most models in economics and finance assume that risk preferences are a stable trait, much like your height. But this assumption, as our studies suggest, is misleading. Humans are designed with shifting risk preferences. They are an integral part of our response to stress, or challenge.......[JCK from David Brooks -The Wisdom Your Body Knows scientists are now focusing on the thinking that happens not in your brain but in your gut. You have neurons spread through your innards, and there’s increasing attention on the vagus nerve, which emerges from the brain stem and wanders across the heart, lungs, kidney and gut. The vagus nerve is one of the pathways through which the body and brain talk to each other in an unconscious conversation. ].......One such opportunity is a brief spike in market volatility, for this presents a chance to make money. But if volatility rises for a long period, the prolonged uncertainty leads us to subconsciously conclude that we no longer understand what is happening and then cortisol scales back our risk taking. In this way our risk taking calibrates to the amount of uncertainty and threat in the environment.

Continue reading the main story
Under conditions of extreme volatility, such as a crisis, traders, investors and indeed whole companies can freeze up in risk aversion, and this helps push a bear market into a crash. Unfortunately, this risk aversion occurs at just the wrong time, for these crises are precisely when markets offer the most attractive opportunities, and when the economy most needs people to take risks. The real challenge for Wall Street, I now believe, is not so much fear and greed as it is these silent and large shifts in risk appetite....As uncertainty in fed funds declined, one of the most powerful brakes on excessive risk taking in stocks was released....There are times when the Fed does need to calm the markets. After the credit crisis, it did just that. But when the economy and market are strong, as they were during the dot-com and housing bubbles, what, pray tell, is the point of calming the markets? Of raising rates in a predictable fashion? If you think the markets are complacent, then unnerve them. Over the past 20 years the Fed may have perfected the art of reassuring the markets, but it has lost the power to scare. And that means stock markets more easily overshoot, and then collapse.

CONTINUE READING THE MAIN STORY
120
COMMENTS
The Fed could dampen this cycle. It has, in interest rate policy, not one tool but two: the level of rates and the uncertainty of rates. Given the sensitivity of risk preferences to uncertainty, the Fed could use policy uncertainty and a higher volatility of funds to selectively target risk taking in the financial community....IT may seem counterintuitive to use uncertainty to quell volatility. But a small amount of uncertainty surrounding short-term interest rates may act much like a vaccine immunizing the stock market against bubbles. More generally, if we view humans as embodied brains instead of disembodied minds, we can see that the risk-taking pathologies found in traders also lead chief executives, trial lawyers, oil executives and others to swing from excessive and ill-conceived risks to petrified risk aversion. It will also teach us to manage these risk takers, much as sport physiologists manage athletes, to stabilize their risk taking and to lower stress.
Wall_Street  risks  risk-management  risk-taking  uncertainty  U.S._Federal_Reserve  bubbles  volatility  behavioural_economics  risk-preferences  risk-aversion  biology  psychology  interest_rates  emotions  human_experience  financial_risk  signaling  stress_response  market_crash  immobilize  paralyze  bear_markets  policy_tools  physiological_response  risk-appetite  unpredictability  physical_experiences  calibration  human_behavior  human_frailties  human_psyche  metabolic 
june 2014 by jerryking
Investing Ideas That Stand Test of Time
April 25, 2000 | WSJ | Jonathan Clements

These days I find I am left with just three core investment ideas:
(1) Financial Success is a Sense of Control
If you ask folks about their financial goals, they will likely offer a laundry list of goods they want to buy or announce they want to accumulate as much money as possible. But in reality,
both goals are a prescription for unhappiness.
Sure it might be nice to purchase everything that catches your fancy. But nobody has unlimited wealth, so a focus on endless consumption inevitably results not in happiness, but in frustration and financial stress. Yeah, it would also be great to have heaps of money. But if all you want is an even bigger pile of cash, you will never be satisfied, because you will never reach your goal. So what should you
shoot for? A far more worthy goal, I believe, is eliminating the anxiety that comes with managing money. You want to reach that sweet spot where you feel your finances are under control, no matter what your standard of living and level of wealth.

(2)Investing is Simple
No doubts about it, there are lots of investments and investment strategies that are mighty complicated. But complexity usually means investors are running the risk of rotten results and Wall Street is getting the chance to charge fat fees. Investing is best when it is simple. In fact, if you want to accumulate a healthy nest egg, there
isn’t much to it. First, you have to save a goodly amount, preferably at least ten percent of your pre-tax annual income. Second, you should consider investing at least half of your portfolio in stocks, even if you are approaching retirement. Third, you should diversify broadly, owning a decent mix of large, small and foreign stocks. Fourth, you should hold down investment costs, including
brokerage commissions, annual fund expenses and taxes. Finally, you should give it time. A little humility also helps. Don’t waste effort — and risk havoc — by trying to pick the next hot stock, identify the next superstar fund manager or guess the market’s next move. Instead, your best bet is to buy and hold a few well-run mutual funds.

(3) We are the enemy
If successful investing is so simple, why do so many people mess up? It isn’t the markets that are the problem, it is the investors.
We make all sorts of mistakes. We fret about the performance of each investment that we own, so we don’t enjoy the benefits of diversification. We are often overly self-confident, which
prompts us to trade too much and bet too heavily on a single stock or market sector. We
extrapolate recent results, leading to excessive exuberance when stocks are rising and unjustified
pessimism when markets decline. We lack self-control, so we don’t save enough.

[All the points made immediately above are analogous to Jason Zweig's article on personal finance & investing. From Benjamin Graham --investing is often portrayed as a battle between you and the markets. Instead, “the investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.”

Similarly, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman wrote in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. [that]evaluating yourself honestly is at least as important as evaluating your investments accurately. If you don’t force yourself to learn your limits as an investor, then it doesn’t matter how much you learn about the markets: Your emotions will be your undoing.... ]

If you are going to truly be a successful and happy investor, it isn’t enough simply to devise
strategies that allow you to meet your investment goals. Your strategies also must give you a
sense of financial control and fit with your risk tolerance, so that you stick with them through the
inevitable market turmoil.
That may mean keeping more of your money in bonds and money-market funds. It could mean
paying for an investment advisor. It might mean scaling back your financial goals and accepting
that the kids won’t be heading to Harvard and that you won’t be able to retire early.
These sorts of choices aren’t foolish. What’s foolish is settling on investment strategies without
considering whether you can see them through.
personal_finance  investing  howto  ideas  goal-setting  Nobel_Prizes  money_management  Jonathan_Clements  financial_literacy  biases  humility  mistakes  self-awareness  self-control  proclivities  overconfidence  financial_planning  delusions  self-delusions  emotions  human_frailties  Jason_Zweig  extrapolations  risk-tolerance  recency  unhappiness  human_errors  bear_markets  sense_of_control  superstars  Daniel_Kahneman 
may 2012 by jerryking
Growth's perilous seduction
Feb. 13, 2006 | National Post | by Michael Urlocker, a
management consultant and former Bay Street analyst, points out,
pursuing non-existent growth can be a killer. "To me the question, "Are
we in a growth market or are we in a bear market?" was the single most
important one I asked during the tech meltdown."

By National PostFebruary 13, 2006
growth  assumptions  BCE  bull_markets  bear_markets  questions  the_single_most_important 
february 2010 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read