The Momentum Factor Is Real. Too Bad It Doesn't Work.

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by dealmaker, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. dealmaker

    dealmaker

    PORTFOLIO

    The Momentum Factor Is Real. Too Bad It Doesn't Work.
    Decades of academic research support the existence of the momentum factor, but it can’t be put into practice in reality, according to a new study from Dimensional Fund Advisors.

    November 21, 2018

    David Booth Brings Academic Research to Life]

    Ten of 11 funds in the latest study underperformed the Russell 3000 by 0.15 percent to 2.35 percent annually. The funds had turnover that ranged from 60 percent annually to 211 percent. The fund with the highest turnover underperformed the benchmark by the largest amount.

    Dimensional has conducted larger studies of the momentum factor in live funds before and has come to similar conclusions. But this time Dimensional wanted to examine only U.S. funds that explicitly state that they are looking to capitalize on the premium.

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    Academics have been able to simulate momentum premiums in the lab, but practitioners haven’t been able to translate that into outperformance in most working momentum funds.

    “I think the research is just a good example of why investors should look at live performance when they can, and not base investment decisions on simulated performance,” said Marlena Lee, co-head of research at Dimensional, in a phone interview.

    Among other things, back tests don’t account for transaction costs. “[That] can drive a wedge between simulations and what you observe in live results,” she said.

    As for why it’s not working, Lee explained that there isn’t a lot of consensus on whether or not this premium has a good reason to exist. In the 20 years since it was discovered, there has been a lot of research into the potential explanations, including ones based on investor behavior and risk-based reasons.

    “When you have a pattern in the data, but there is not good reasoning behind it, then you have to ask yourself, ‘Why is it that smart investors haven’t traded the premium away?’” said Lee.

    It may come down to trading costs. If it’s too expensive for managers to trade on the premium, then the premium will continue to exist. “If there are ‘limits to arbitrage,’ then what you see in computer simulations is not achievable net of costs,” said Lee.

    Lee said there is a lot of discussion in the markets about what factors investors should be pursuing — whether value, growth, or size. She suggests that investors should be thinking about long-term factors compared with short-term ones. A high-turnover strategy for Dimensional is one with a turnover of 25 percent.

    That means when a stock falls into the value category, it will earn the value premium for four years. But the information contained in the momentum premium signal loses its value quickly, requiring turnover of 100 to 200 percent each year.

    Although momentum-style funds aren’t working, Dimensional says information in the momentum premium can be used when buying and selling stocks in general. Dimensional, for example, uses momentum when it’s already trading stocks for its equity portfolios. It’s one more characteristic the firm will use when making trading decisions, Lee said.

    https://www.institutionalinvestor.c...omentum Factor Is Real Too Bad It Doesnt Work
     
  2. Dimensional Fund Advisors have not been very succesful harvesting the value premium either - a very modest outperformance of their US small cap value fund since inception in 1993. The most likely explanation is that all the anomalies that underly factor investing become much less profitable once they are widely publicized.
     
  3. cvds16

    cvds16

    nobody in their sane mind ever publicizes anything of real value ... while that does not mean some things work like gold. They are just hard to find. some things for example needs tons of patience .... most people don't have that.
     
    d08, murray t turtle and Maverick2608 like this.
  4. Sounds like momentum is a bit like fractal long-term memory in the markets. Lots of studies over the years have tended to show that the phenomena exists, but it does not appear that anyone can capitalize on the effect either.
     
  5. Agree. And those who do come up with things that work like gold do not take other people's money. Renaissance's flagship Medallion fund is one such example.
     
  6. cvds16

    cvds16

    I also agree with that. The stupidity of the masses is gigantic. That's not stealing their money that's just taking what is there for everyone to see. Should read up on Medaillion fund though. Have heard of it though.
     
  7. cvds16

    cvds16

  8. I agree with the headline: The Momentum Factor Is Real. Too Bad It Doesn't Work.

    Despite this, Cliff Asness has been able to turn the momentum factor into a personal fortune of USD 3.6 billion. Most likely because many risk averse pension fund managers like to invest in something backed by academic research - whether it works or not - and because they like the fact that Cliff Asness originally was research assistant to Eugene Fama.
     
    cvds16 likes this.
  9. srinir

    srinir

    Just to be clear, Momentum factor in that article is different than most of the traders in this forum associate with.

    Their Momentum factor is "cross-sectional", where as most of the traders associate Momentum is "time series".

    Cross-sectional collapsed 90% in 2009, where as Time series just did fine. Also, the article are talking about just Equity Cross sectional. Where as combination of cross-sectional momentum is much better, when combined with the other asset classes.
     
    Reformed Trader and cvds16 like this.
  10. %%
    Maybe true-mostly; except IBD + WSJ on the 200 dma. As far as WSJ --65dma- not worth much. Its too little, too late, even though DOW/DIA traders+investors may like it???:cool::cool:
     
    #10     Nov 26, 2018