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  1. BLOG

    Was Infrastructure Solid During COVID-19? 

    Oct 27, 2020 Will Robson , Niel Harmse

    Real Estate Investing , Risk Management

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    Infrastructure investments have not been spared the effects of the pandemic. A closer look across investment types, subsectors and risk levels over time may provide useful perspective as private-capital firms and their investors manage through.

  2. BLOG

    Is US Equity Overvalued? A Macro View 

    Oct 19, 2020 Chenlu Zhou

    Equity Themes , Risk Management

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    Headed into what some see as “the second wave” of COVID-19, U.S. equity investors may ask: Is this a sustainable market recovery, or a bubble that may burst? We examine the question with our model for market-implied U.S. equity risk premium.

  3. BLOG

    Hertz So Good? 

    Sep 30, 2020 Hamed Faquiryan , Manuel Rueda

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    We look at the unusual bankruptcy of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. — whose equity rallied in early June, when holders of Hertz bonds were expecting losses as high as 90% in default — to discuss the importance and subtleties of firms’ capital structures.

  4. BLOG

    Corporate ESG Disclosure: A Health & Safety Case Study 

    Sep 24, 2020 Samantha Sue Ping , Gaurav Trivedi

    ESG Research

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    How good a job are corporations doing in disclosing ESG policies and data to investors and other stakeholders? We took an in-depth look at reporting of health & safety disclosures. Our findings confirmed some common assumptions and upended others.

  5. BLOG

    Bond Liquidity: How Bad Was COVID? 

    Sep 16, 2020 László Arany

    Risk Management

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    Was bond liquidity worse during the COVID-19 outbreak or the 2008 global financial crisis? We analyzed transaction costs from the forced selling of USD 10 million of U.S. corporate bonds, throughout the two crises.

  6. BLOG

    Missed Rents’ Impact on Real Estate 

    Sep 11, 2020 Bryan Reid , Niel Harmse

    Real Estate Investing , Fixed Income

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    Some commercial tenants have stopped paying rent amid COVID-19. Without rental income, property funds are not able to pay distributions to shareholders and borrowers cannot service their debt. We analyzed property-fund data to assess the impact on investors.

  7. BLOG

    Alternative Views of Equity-Market Liquidity During COVID-19 

    Aug 26, 2020 Saurabh Katiyar , Reil Abucay , Chirag Gosar

    Emerging Markets , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    Institutional investors have typically used traded volume as a way to assess market liquidity. Adding alternative measures that gauge market impact and trading costs can provide a more comprehensive view for portfolio managers and traders.

  8. BLOG

    Understanding the Industry-Momentum Factor 

    Aug 19, 2020 Alex Johnson , Simon Minovitsky

    Factor Investing , Risk Management , Global Investing

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    When COVID-19 first swept through global equity markets, many factors exhibited unprecedented performance swings. How could institutional investors interpret the industry-momentum factor’s moves in the context of the underlying market dynamics?

  9. BLOG

    Did Bonds Deliver? Leveraging Fixed Income During the COVID Crisis 

    Jul 29, 2020 Juan Sampieri , Andy Sparks

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    Investors may employ leverage with lower-risk asset classes such as bonds to seek higher risk and returns. We assessed the effects of leverage on the returns of three hypothetical multi-asset-class portfolios during the COVID-19 crisis.

  10. BLOG

    Corporate Bonds Through a Factor and ESG Lens 

    Jul 20, 2020 Rohit Mendiratta , Hitendra D Varsani

    ESG Research , Factor Indexes , Factor Investing , Factors , Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    COVID-19 has had a profound impact on how companies manage cash flows and liquidity. Bond investors face the possibility of increased leverage, rating downgrades and defaults. Can factors and ESG metrics shed light on these risks?

  11. BLOG

    Measuring Firms’ Remote-Workforce Abilities 

    Jul 14, 2020 Howard Zhang , Daniel R. Barrera , Manuel Rueda

    Factor Investing , Factors

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    It’s clear that some companies were better positioned to take advantage of a remote work environment than others. We built a hypothetical “remote-operation capacity” factor to seek to measure the effect on different firms.

  12. BLOG

    Factors in Focus: How Trendy Is Your Style Factor? 

    Jul 6, 2020 Hitendra D Varsani , Waman Virgaonkar , Rohit Mendiratta

    Factor Investing , Risk Management

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    As markets rallied worldwide, investors took on high-beta exposure and rotated away from stocks with lower risk. The latest edition of Factors in Focus explores the details.

  13. BLOG

    Surging Corporate-Bond Supply: Reason to Worry? 

    Jul 1, 2020 Andy Sparks , Gergely Szalka

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    In the months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies issued a large amount of corporate bonds. As a result of this surge, corporate debt has grown substantially — a burden that institutional credit investors may wish to monitor closely.

  14. BLOG

    Short Interest Factor Performance in Times of Crisis 

    Jun 24, 2020 Vipul Jain , Roman Kouzmenko

    Factors , Factor Investing

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    Given recent short interest factor performance, we asked: What has been the relationship between this factor and large market drawdowns? Were there changes in short selling during COVID-19? Did short-selling bans affect short interest factor performance?

  15. BLOG

    Equity-Market Dislocation and Index-Based Investing 

    Jun 3, 2020 Zhen Wei , Shuo Xu

    Emerging Markets , Global Investing

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    Market turbulence amid COVID-19 presented risks and opportunities. We explore how indexes , combined with the use of fundamental data, provided a wealth of information to help identify potential market dislocations.

  16. BLOG

    Outcome-Oriented Factor Investing with a ‘Barbell’ Approach 

    Jun 1, 2020 Zhen Wei , Shuo Xu

    Factor Indexes , Factor Investing , Global Investing

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    Though relatively new to wealth investors, index-based factor investing has some similarity to a high-conviction, outcome-oriented approach. We explore combining the two when seeking outcomes such as equity growth, yield enhancement and risk mitigation.

  17. BLOG

    Building Better ESG Indexes: 30 Years On 

    May 27, 2020 Stuart Doole

    Global Investing , ESG Research

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    How ESG indexes have evolved over the past 30 years: A Q&A with Stuart Doole, head of new index development at MSCI, about his conversations with investors since the COVID19 crisis started, the growth of ESG investing and how MSCI Research uses AI and machine learning in developing its ESG indexes.

  18. BLOG

    Robust Selection Paid Dividends 

    May 22, 2020 Neeraj Dabake , Ankit Shah

    Global Investing

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    Dividend cuts following the COVID-19 slowdown led to approximately USD 194 billion of lost dividends between February and April 2020. An approach that looked beyond dividend-yield ranking would have avoided some affected companies, based on our analysis.

  19. BLOG

    Four COVID-19 Scenarios: What Might Happen Next? 

    May 21, 2020 Thomas Verbraken , Juan Sampieri

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    Our latest COVID-19 stress test looks at four potential financial-market outcomes ranging from a swift V-shaped recovery to a pessimistic L-shaped scenario, in which outbreaks recur and lockdowns return well into 2021.

  20. BLOG

    Five lessons for investors from the COVID-19 crisis 

    May 19, 2020 Dimitris Melas

    ESG Research , Factors , Global Investing

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    COVID-19 unleashed a torrent of sharp movements across global financial markets. We highlight five key lessons for investors regarding global investing, managing factors, active management, indexed investing and ESG investing.

  21. BLOG

    Real Estate Asset Selection Mattered — Especially in a Crisis 

    May 14, 2020 Bryan Reid

    Real Estate Investing

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    As real estate strategies become more complex and market disruption continues, attribution analysis may prove a valuable tool. We looked at asset selection’s role in driving portfolios’ relative returns during relatively calm and disruptive periods.

  22. BLOG

    Index Rebalancing During High Volatility: A Balancing Act 

    May 13, 2020 Abhishek Gupta , Pavlo Taranenko , Sebastien Lieblich

    Global Investing , Emerging Markets

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    Significant volatility during COVID-19 highlights a need for index reconstitution, but some may worry about trading costs and excess turnover. We investigate the balance between appropriate market representation and avoiding high index turnover.

  23. BLOG

    Consumer ABS Under Coronavirus in the US and China 

    May 11, 2020 Yini Yang , Jian Chen , Joy Zhang

    Emerging Markets , Fixed Income , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    Beyond COVID-19’s steep human toll, the pandemic’s disruption of economic life has led to widespread loss of income and impaired some borrowers’ ability to repay loans. What could the impact be for investors in consumer asset-backed securities in the U.S. and China?

  24. BLOG

    How Hedge Funds Navigated the Start of COVID-19 Volatility 

    May 8, 2020 Donald Sze , Navneet Kumar

    Factor Investing , Factors , Risk Management

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    How did hedge funds navigate the initial volatility amid COVID-19? Though holdings information is limited, and delayed, we gained insights into their reaction by examining the change in hedge-fund portfolios between the end of January and end of February.

  25. BLOG

    Credit in the COVID Crisis: Contagion, Valuation, Default 

    May 6, 2020 Hamed Faquiryan , Reka Janosik , Andras Rokob

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, credit markets deteriorated under the stress of a sharply diminished economic outlook. We analyze three indicators of credit-market conditions: default risk, relative value and contagion risk.

  26. BLOG

    Using Derivatives to Manage Volatile Markets 

    May 4, 2020 Hitendra D Varsani , Rohit Mendiratta

    Emerging Markets , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    We’ve previously noted growth in derivatives contracts to manage emerging-markets exposure in normal and stressed times. Now, facing a real-world stress test, how did investors use these tools? How have implied volatilities and option premium changed?

  27. BLOG

    Hunting a COVID-19 factor 

    Apr 29, 2020 George Bonne , Jun Wang

    Factor Indexes , Factor Investing , Factors

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    Can we identify a COVID-19 factor and quantify companies’ exposure to it? We explored three ways to do so — from very simple to more complex methods.

  28. BLOG

    US inflation: The market’s implied view 

    Apr 21, 2020 Andy Sparks , Greg Scheuer

    Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    Dramatic declines in oil prices, the Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy and higher fiscal deficits may create a confusing outlook for U.S. inflation. We examine what the market is telling us about where inflation may be heading.

  29. BLOG

    How COVID-19 could impact private real estate values 

    Apr 20, 2020 Bryan Reid , Yang Liu

    Real Estate Investing

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    Real estate has not historically been immune to growth shocks, but the impact of COVID-19 has been harder to establish than it has for public equities. Discounted-cash-flow scenarios may help investors understand the potential sensitivity of their portfolios.

  30. BLOG

    Resilient stocks during the dog days of March 

    Apr 17, 2020 Mehdi Alighanbari

    Factor Investing , Factor Indexes , Factors

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    While many stocks were in the red in mid-March, as COVID-19 and oil-market shocks took hold, some were “redder” than others. We examine global markets to better understand the characteristics of the more resilient stocks during this period.

  31. BLOG

    Can diversification help weather the coronavirus storm? 

    Apr 16, 2020 Raina Oberoi , Abhishek Gupta , Jean-Maurice Ladure

    Emerging Markets , Factor Indexes , Factor Investing , Factors , Global Investing

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    Whether investors include a tactical approach or invest strategically for the long term, diversifying across factors, sectors and geographies has historically played an important role in portfolio construction. 

  32. BLOG

    Could coronavirus depress US housing prices? 

    Apr 15, 2020 Yihai Yu , Joy Zhang

    Risk Management , Fixed Income

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    The large economic shocks unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic could be comparable to or even exceed those of the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC). We used our models to assess whether these shocks could hurt U.S. housing prices as much as the GFC did.

  33. BLOG

    For target-date funds, hindsight was 40/60 

    Apr 9, 2020 Anil Rao

    ESG Research , Factor Indexes , Fixed Income , Risk Management

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    Recent market volatility has been especially unkind to those closest to and early in retirement, as the sequence of returns matters for retirement income. Would low-volatility and ESG investments have benefited target date funds during volatile periods?

  34. BLOG

    What out-of-cycle write-downs may mean for real estate yields 

    Apr 3, 2020 Bryan Reid

    Real Estate Investing

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    As real estate investors seek to understand how the COVID-19 crisis could affect their portfolios, several large Australian pension funds recently wrote down their property portfolios by up to 10%. What could a 10% write-down imply for yields?

  35. BLOG

    Will coronavirus reduce emissions long term? 

    Apr 3, 2020 Oliver Marchand , Nathan Faigle

    ESG Research , Global Investing

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    Has COVID-19 affected carbon emissions? Using satellite imagery from NASA and the European Space Agency, we examined the empirical data so far to understand the potential impact, and if there may be a decline in global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2020.

  36. BLOG

    Factors in Focus: Risk sentiment and factor dynamics in a crisis 

    Apr 2, 2020 Hitendra D Varsani , Waman Virgaonkar , Rohit Mendiratta

    Factor Indexes , Factor Investing , Factors , Fixed Income

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    We analyzed the market effects from COVID-19 and a Saudi Arabia/Russia oil-price war. We also examined – for the first time – credit factor performance. How did the quarter play out? What did our adaptive multi-factor model show as it ended?

  37. BLOG

    Managing risk-model uncertainty through a crisis 

    Mar 27, 2020 Michael Hayes

    Risk Management

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    The impact on risk policy has been similar across market crises, as investors consider how to use their models in the new regime. We describe adaptive modeling for internal and external risk policy, and long-view backtesting to support decision-making.

  38. BLOG

    ‘Nowcasting’ private equity in the coronavirus crisis 

    Mar 26, 2020 Peter Shepard , Yang Liu

    Risk Management

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    What may be happening to the value of portfolios of private assets during the COVID-19 crisis? We used MSCI’s private-equity model, which integrates data on private assets from our partner Burgiss, to try to shed some light.

  39. BLOG

    How could coronavirus impact credit markets? 

    Mar 25, 2020 Juan Sampieri , Andy Sparks , Thomas Verbraken

    Risk Management , Fixed Income

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    While newspaper headlines are focused on volatile stock markets stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, credit markets are not immune. Our latest stress test asks, “What would it mean for portfolios if losses reached 2008 levels?”

  40. BLOG

    Asset allocation and index futures during market crises 

    Mar 25, 2020 Zhen Wei , Shuo Xu , Wei Xu

    Emerging Markets , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    During market crises, institutional investors have employed derivatives contracts to hedge market risks or express views on certain performance/risk characteristics. We explore prior use of futures for exposure management and tactical asset allocation.

  41. BLOG

    Real estate is about more than location during uncertain times 

    Mar 18, 2020 Niel Harmse

    Real Estate Investing

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    With real estate now occupying a greater slice of multi-asset-class portfolios, factors such as lease length, may be more systematic drivers of return than previously thought. 

  42. BLOG

    What scenarios has the US equity market priced in? 

    Mar 13, 2020 Peter Shepard , Andrea Amato , Chenlu Zhou

    Risk Management

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    With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. equity market turned sharply downward. We performed a reverse stress test considering various scenarios that potentially explain current valuations.

  43. BLOG

    Coronavirus and oil hit equities — how low can we go? 

    Mar 12, 2020 Dimitris Melas

    Risk Management , Global Investing

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    We compare the market turmoil sparked by the coronavirus pandemic with levels of volatility, drawdown and recovery after 9/11 and the global financial crisis (the two other similarly severe economic and market shocks of the last 20 years).

  44. BLOG

    Coronavirus and a potential MBS convexity whipsaw 

    Mar 6, 2020 Yihai Yu

    Risk Management

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    Amid rising fears that the human toll of coronavirus will have a significant impact on the global economy, investors have sought safety in Treasurys and driven yields to all-time lows. This rate rally has posed a hedging challenge for investors in mortgage-backed securities.

  45. BLOG

    The coronavirus market impact spreads globally 

    Mar 5, 2020 Jun Wang , Jay Yao , George Bonne

    Factor Investing , Global Investing

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    Fear of a coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic impacts caused sharp drops in global markets after an initially mild response. We look at recent performance from a factor perspective and how quickly factor returns and volatility reverted in past crises.

  46. BLOG

    A coronavirus stress test for global markets 

    Mar 4, 2020 Thomas Verbraken , Chenlu Zhou , Juan Sampieri

    Fixed Income , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    After the coronavirus spread to multiple continents, markets recorded the worst week since the crisis. How much further could markets drop if epidemic turns into pandemic? Our stress test indicates room for further losses.

  47. BLOG

    The coronavirus epidemic: Implications for markets 

    Feb 12, 2020 Zhen Wei , Jun Wang , Thomas Verbraken

    Economic Exposure , Emerging Markets , Factor Investing , Fixed Income , Global Investing , Risk Management

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    The toll from the coronavirus has been felt throughout societies, leading to repercussions on the global economy and financial markets. We examine investor impact through markets’ economic exposures to China and factors and by stress testing portfolios.