Markets

(New York)

Investors likely already know that low cost index funds tend to greatly outperform high fee actively managed funds (to the tune of 1.5% or more annually). That comes as no surprise. However, what was surprising to us is that in fixed income, the tables are greatly turned. While passive funds do have a slight edge over active ones on average (0.18% per year), in many cases high fee actively managed fixed income funds outperform passive ones. This holds true over long time periods, including ten-year horizons.


FINSUM: This is an interesting finding and one that makes intuitive sense. The bond market is vast, hard to access, and full of intricacies. That kind of environment lends itself to specialism in a way that large cap equities does not, and the performance metrics show it.

(New York)

The yield curve inversion has largely faded from headlines. Things that become the status quo often do! But in that development lays a hidden but worrying truth—the longer the yield curve is inverted, the more likely it is that there will be a recession. The inversion has been in place for over a month now and it is actually getting worse, with long-term yields continuing to drop. A yield curve inversion has proceeded every US recession in the last 50 years.


FINSUM: If the Fed proceeds with cuts, it seems like the inversion may abate. But then again, the rate cut would be an implicit admission that we are on the way to a recession.

(Chicago)

There is no arguing it, small caps have had a rough year. While the S&P 500 is up 9.4% from a year ago, the SmallCap 600 is down 8.4%. The divergence has been surprising to many, as several macro trends appear favorable for small cap appreciation, such as the trade war. However, for small caps to really get wind in their sails, things needing to be looking up in the economy, which seems unlikely in the short term. Therefore, one of the best ways to bet on size in your portfolio is to buy a specialized fund like the iShares Edge MSCI USA Size Factor ETF, which holds stocks in inverse proportion to their size. The smaller the stock, the greater its weight in the fund, helping investors skew towards small stocks, but not totally away from larger ones. The fund has outperformed the S&P 500 this year.


FINSUM: This is a very specialized angle, but does make some sense. We agree with the assessment of small caps right now—the underlying economy is not favorable for small cap bullishness.

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