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  1. Fears of a global slowdown have sent U.S. stock markets plummeting recently. Given FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) have been a dominant force in driving U.S. market performance higher over the past few years, did these stocks lead the market’s downward trajectory?

  2. Despite strong headwinds, including renewed divestment pressure,1 the tobacco industry has proved quite resilient financially and outperformed the stock market over the past 18-1/2 years. So much so, that some institutional investors are now thinking of lifting tobacco bans in their investment policies. We found that most of the gains associated with holding tobacco stocks over this period were not specific to the tobacco industry, and could have been obtained in other ways. We also show it would have been possible to divest from tobacco without taking a hit to portfolio performance during our sample period.

  3. With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and the majority of agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) under the refinance threshold, how much do investors need to worry about refinance risk? Our model indicates that future refinance regimes would be similar to recent 2016 experiences, and this view is consistent with current behavior of MBS empirical durations. However, investors may want to remain vigilant, as the recent trend toward looser mortgage credit standards by agencies and regulators could increase the prepayment intensity of future refinance waves.

  4. Which factors have performed best in the China A market, especially given its relatively high annualized market volatility? Is there too much risk to bear? We investigate the role that the minimum volatility factor has played.

  5. As China continues to open its capital markets to global investors and accessibility standards have improved, MSCI recently launched a consultation to explore increasing the weight of A shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Ultimately, we seek to reflect the full investable opportunity set — all of China accessible to global investors — in the benchmark, as we do in all MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes.

  6. Discretionary managers use fundamental analysis to select stocks and construct portfolios that seek to beat the market. These managers face substantial headwinds in the current environment. From a business perspective, they are under pressure to reduce cost and improve performance. The market environment has also been challenging, as high correlations between stocks and the dominance of a handful of large technology companies have made it harder to generate alpha from stock selection.

  7. Given high market valuations, some investors worry that a market pullback may be at hand. We saw markets gyrate earlier this year — what if volatility returns? How investors respond to changing market conditions may depend on their time horizons.

  8. In June of 2017, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) released climate-related disclosure recommendations to companies and investors that included a framework for better company disclosure and a request for climate scenarios as part of that disclosure. But for investors looking to incorporate environmental risk into their process, there might be a pretty big catch: We mapped over 140 MSCI ESG Research climate-related data points to the TCFD framework and found a significant gap between what investors need to know under these recommendations and what companies are telling them.

  9. As some very large companies switch sectors because of changes to the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®) structure, there will likely be implications for investors. We looked at how these changes may affect the risk profiles of six of the largest reclassified companies.

  10. Bond investors lost $1 trillion during “the great bond massacre”1 of 1994, which was triggered by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening of interest rates. Many U.S. mortgage-backed securities (MBS) investors and broker-dealers misjudged the risk that fixed-rate prime mortgage borrowers would defer prepayments due to market conditions. This risk — known as “extension risk” — means that borrowers may hold onto mortgages longer than previously expected.

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