Indexes and Benchmarking
Noël Amenc, Frédéric Ducoulombier, Felix Goltz, Jakub Ulahel That a new investment approach be debated should not be surprising. Such debate should be expected to further the understanding of potential benefits as well as risks and possible pitfalls of the new approach. In the area of Smart Beta investing however, an intense debate has also produced a certain number of beliefs which are accepted as conventional
wisdom and impede progress towards the adoption of approaches that could add more value for end investors. The objective of this paper is to provide perspective on these beliefs by examining conceptual considerations and empirical evidence. More...
Dominic O'Kane This paper provides a detailed overview and analysis of the forthcoming new framework to be used by large financial institutions to determine initial margin (IM) and variation margin (VM) payments when trading non-cleared over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. More...
Frédéric Blanc-Brude This paper proposes an approach to benchmark long-term investments in infrastructure, where long-term investment simply refers to any unlisted
and illiquid asset. It first highlights the reasons why benchmarking long-term infrastructure investments has become a sine qua non to match the supply and demand of long-term capital, improve asset allocation outcomes for investors and support the development of the economy. More...
Indexes and Benchmarking
Noël Amenc, Felix Goltz, Lionel Martellini This position paper seeks to draw the attention of investors to the risks of traditional smart beta equity indices and proposes a new approach to smart beta investing to take account of these risks. This new approach, referred to as “Smart Beta 2.0,” enables investors to measure and control the risks of their benchmark and revolutionises the offerings of advanced equity benchmarks. More...
Hilary Till This EDHEC-Risk position paper specifically responds to a recent report by Finance Watch on regulatory proposals for commodity derivatives markets in Europe. The paper describes an alternative narrative for what caused the recent commodity price spikes and then notes what implications this narrative has for addressing Finance Watch’s regulatory proposals. More...
Noël Amenc, Frédéric Ducoulombier, Felix Goltz, Lin Tang This paper outlines EDHEC-Risk Institute's positions on the major concerns of counterparty risk, liquidity risk, confusion between ETFs and other ETPs, risks associated with special types of ETFs, and potential impact of ETFs on the underlying markets and systemic risks. The focus is solely on European ETFs, the bulk of which are regulated by UCITS Directives. Prior to looking at the potential risks of ETFs, the paper presents ETFs and sizes-up the European ETF landscape. More...
Noël Amenc, Samuel Sender Several regulatory initiatives are being taken in Europe and recommendations that will reshape the investment fund industry are being made. Existing regulations, such as UCITS, are being reshaped; the need for a regulation of depositaries has been acknowledged, and since the G20 there has been more focus on the monitoring of hedge funds. Many of these regulatory needs have converged in the alternative investment fund managers’ directive (AIFMD), which means that the AIFMD could become a unique framework that settles most of the questions related to the common framework for funds, fund managers and depositaries. However, it must avoid the risk of the AIFMD not being applicable if it appears as a patchwork of diverging goals that have been grouped into a single directive solely for political reasons. The present position paper addresses the
measures for implementation of the AIFMD. More...
Hilary Till This paper examines food price volatility in the context of the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers. In reviewing the evidence so far regarding the impact of commodity trading, speculation, and index investment on price volatility, the report finds that the evidence for the prosecution does not seem particularly compelling at this point. More...
Raman Uppal Almost each time volatility in equity, debt, or currency markets increases, there are cries to introduce a tax of financial transactions, first proposed in Tobin (1974). This tax is motivated by the view that the excess volatility in financial markets is the result of trading by "speculators"; thus, even a small tax on financial transactions would "throw some sand in the wheels" of financial markets, and hence, by slowing down the trading activity of speculators would reduce volatility. More...
Paul Klumpes, Peter Welch This paper reviews the arguments for and against the decoupling of capital ratio calculations based on IFRS from those based on Basel II. We analyse recent trends in both accounting and regulatory supervision after the financial crisis and identify areas where there are still deficiencies in the transparency of IFRS-based financial reports and regulatory-based capital disclosures and calculations. We find that the variation in disclosure practices across IFRS and BIS-based capital estimations is significant for a sample of major European banks. More...
Noël Amenc, Véronique Le Sourd In an initial study done in 2008, EDHEC-Risk Institute established that socially responsible (SRI) funds—those funds made by selecting securities that meet ESG (environmental, social, governance) criteria—distributed in France did not produce both positive and statistically significant alpha. That study, which relied on the Fama-French three-factor model, covered a six-year period ending in December 2007, thus not including the recent financial crisis. The purpose of the present study was to update these results by extending the analysis to the years 2008 and 2009. More...
Abraham Lioui The ban on shorting had negative effects on the hedge fund industry. It also had a negative impact on the returns and the market quality of the stocks placed off limits by the ban. This paper examines the impact of the ban on broad market indices in the US and in Europe (the United Kingdom, France, and Germany). Since these indices and their performance are of great concern to the asset management and hedge fund industries, it is important for practitioners and policy-makers to understand the impact of changing the rules of the game (banning short sales) on the return distribution of these indices and to assess the potential spillover effects of a counter-cyclical regulation affecting only one segment of the financial market. The paper shows that the ban had a broad impact on the markets. A revisited version of this paper was published in the Winter 2011 issue of the Journal of Alternative Investments. More...
Hilary Till Because many facets of the global oil markets have not been sufficiently transparent, it is unclear how much of the oil-price rally that peaked in July 2008 can be put down to speculation. This uncertainty has led to concerns that there was actually excessive speculation in the oil derivatives markets. In an effort to make the oil markets more transparent, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has recently launched the “Disaggregated Commitments of Traders” report. This report includes three years of enhanced market-participant data for twenty-two commodity futures contracts. This report makes it possible to examine whether, over the last three years, speculative position-taking in the exchange-traded oil derivatives markets has been excessive relative to commercial hedging needs. More...
Noël Amenc, Samuel Sender The European Commission is seeking to harmonise the depositary fonction and to strengthen protection mechanisms. EDHEC believes that beforehand there should be an in-depth study of the practices of the parties in the value chain and the regulations to which they are subject and that, beyond a minimum protective threshold, complementary protection should be optional, which supposes clear disclosures of the degree of protection and of its cost. More...
Samuel Sender Financial reporting standards for pension funds are of great topical interest. The
current crisis points to the need for clearer regulations, both accounting and prudential, and for regulations that provide better incentives for pension funds to manage risk and to contribute to a more stable pension system. Poorly
designed regulations will lead to the closure of defined-benefit pension plans.
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has proposed a revision of
IAS 19. In the current paper we show that the immediate recognition of the volatility of pension surpluses and deficits in the profit and loss accounts of the sponsor may lead pension funds to shed risky assets. More...
Jean René Giraud This position paper looks at the changes that have been effected in the European capital markets more than one year after the implementation of MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive). These changes are hard to quantify, but initial fears of the rise of so-called dark pools of liquidity have proven well founded. In addition, the best execution obligation remains ambiguous. The paper examines other features of the post-MiFID trade execution landscape and recommends that post-trade reporting be standardised, that a single measure of execution quality be adopted, and that the debate on regulating transactions in less liquid asset classes and giant OTC derivatives markets be re-opened. More...
Abraham Lioui An in-depth study of the short-selling market calls into question both the reasons for the decision to ban short selling and the prejudices that weigh on those who short. According to recently published data (for the United States in particular), a large majority of short sellers are market makers who are hedging their bets on the options markets. They were not affected by the ban, which means that those who were using options to take synthetic short positions continued to do so. The others involved in short selling are mainly hedge funds. More...
Greg N. Gregoriou, François-Serge Lhabitant For more than seventeen years, Bernard Madoff operated what was viewed as one of the most successful investment strategies in the world. This strategy ultimately collapsed in December 2008 in what financial experts are calling one of the most detrimental Ponzi schemes in history. Many large and otherwise sophisticated bankers, hedge funds, and funds of funds have been hit by his alleged fraud. In this paper, we review some of the red flags that any operational due diligence and quantitative analysis should have identified as a concern before investing. We highlight some of the salient operational
features common to best-of-breed hedge funds, features that were clearly missing from Madoff’s operations. A revisited version of this paper was published in the Summer 2009 issue of The Journal of Wealth Management. More...
Noël Amenc, Samuel Sender The financial crisis has put great pressure on banks and led to a number of emergency measures intended to restore confidence in the banking system: tentative changes to accounting standards, recapitalisation of the banking industry, and higher capital requirements. Each measure targets a specific concern that has arisen during the crisis. Governments and regulators, however, have yet to deal with one of the essential causes of systemic risk: the inflexibility of prudential regulation for banking. As it happens, a single minor change would make it possible to restore much of the confidence in the
banking sector without requiring any capital injections in the short term: acknowledging that banking capital ratios fall during downturns would have made most of the injections of public funds unnecessary. Making this change today would give governments far more room to support the real economy. More...
Noël Amenc, Frédéric Ducoulombier, Philippe Foulquier A "call for reaction" was sent by EDHEC to international institutional investors and asset managers to compare investor views of the amendments to the IAS39 and IFRS 7 standards not just with the conclusions of an initial EDHEC study ("The Fair Value Controversy: Ignoring the Real Issue"), but also with the ambitions of these reforms prepared and adopted in great haste.
The call for reaction received more than 800 responses and represents the first international survey on the relevance of the reforms carried out by the IASB under pressure from the European Commission. The results of this study correspond to EDHEC’s initial arguments. Fewer than a quarter of the respondents believe that these amendments are necessary and well suited to resolving the problems of bank solvency. Moreover, three-quarters of respondents believe that they are likely to lead to new problems. More...
The results of this EDHEC position paper show that none of the sixty-two funds in the sample, covering various investment zones, manage to produce both positive and significant alpha (outperformance) over a six-year period and that the few significant alpha values are negative. Moreover, most of the funds generate negative, non-significant alpha. The study also shows that alpha values estimated over one year change greatly from one year to the next. The use of a period of various lengths shows that results can vary greatly from one length to another. More...
To analyse the significant variations in oil prices over the past year, EDHEC have produced a new position paper entitled "Oil Prices: the True Role of Speculation," which argues that, despite the appeal of blaming speculators, supply-and-demand imbalances, the fall in the dollar and low spare capacity in the oil-producing countries are the major causes of this sharp rise. More...
In US dollar terms, crude oil prices increased 525% from the end of 2001 through July 31st, 2008. Was this rally yet another speculative bubble? Specifically, was the oil-price rally based on speculative excess rather than fundamental supply-and-demand factors? In a new position paper, “The Oil Markets: Let the Data Speak for Itself”, we argue that when the oil supply-and-demand balance becomes sufficiently tight and that when effective OPEC spare capacity becomes sufficiently low that it is logical to see very high prices to ration demand and/or encourage additional supply. That is the job and message of price, even if this message is unpopular. More...
If all institutional investors are bound by regulations that force them to sell risky assets during downturns, these assets will ultimately be absorbed by unregulated long-term investors. Additional examination shows that, in the current environment, sovereign wealth funds and governments are the possible buyers of these assets. As public intervention entails moral hazard, it follows that for the stability of the financial system throughout the business cycle regulations must be improved. More...
This paper analyses a set of characteristics-based indices that have recently been launched on the US market and have been said to outperform standard market cap-weighted indices over particular backtest samples.
The EDHEC authors, Noël Amenc, Felix Goltz and Véronique Le Sourd, analyse the performance of an exhaustive list of such indices and show that the outperformance over value-weighted indices may be negative over long time periods and that characteristics-based indices do not significantly outperform simple equal-weighted indices.
Furthermore, an analysis of both the style exposures and the sector exposures of characteristics-based indices reveals a significant value tilt. When properly adjusting for this tilt, these indices do not show any abnormal performance. A revisited version of this paper was published in the March 2009 issue of European Financial Management. More...
In its response to the CEIOPS consultation on the preliminary technical specifications for the fourth quantitative impact survey (QIS4), EDHEC argues that the main risk faced by life insurance companies is not taken into account in the standard formula. This risk is that following market (or other significant) losses, a wave of surrenders leaves shareholders bearing the entirety of losses. This is the phenomenon that led to such bankruptcies as that of Executive Life, where losses made public by rating agencies and the media triggered a wave of surrenders and bankruptcy–even though the losses alone were thought bearable for some time. More...
Noël Amenc, Walter Géhin, Lionel Martellini, Jean-Christophe Meyfredi Following recent initiatives by major investment banks such as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, EDHEC researchers have undertaken a detailed critical analysis of the various methodologies involved in hedge fund replication offers, examining the benefits and limits of the “factor-based” and “pay-off” distribution approaches. In the study, “The Myths and Limits of Passive Hedge Fund Replication,” co-written by Lionel Martellini with Noël Amenc, Walter Géhin and Jean-Christophe Meyfredi, the authors find that overall, one could only possibly hope to achieve truly satisfying results by combining the best of the two competing approaches. A revisited version of this paper was published in the Fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Alternative Investments. More...
Noël Amenc, Véronique Le Sourd. Fund ratings are a widely used tool for fund promoters and fund subscribers. They serve to evaluate fund performance on a risk and return basis in an easily understandable way, and allow the performance of different funds to be compared. In this context, the quality and the robustness of the ratings is a critical subject for both investment management firms and investors. Though the predictive capability of fund ratings has not been proved, numerous studies performed on US mutual funds have concluded that fund subscribers are widely influenced by fund ratings in making their choice. A revisited version of this paper was published in the Summer 2007 issue of the Journal of Performance Measurement. More...
European leaders, eager for an explanation absolving them of responsibility, have once again laid blame on the seemingly detrimental role played by hedge funds in this summer’s crisis. This crisis is the result of a sudden fall in asset
prices, combined with increased aversion to risk on the part of investors. To suggest that hedge funds are to blame for this crisis is simplistic but tempting, as their speculative, unregulated, and opaque nature make them easy targets - all the while, more delicate market and regulatory issues are avoided. So, as a counterpoint to these accusations that often come from France, it seemed necessary to us to provide a French perspective on the lessons to be learned with respect to financial regulation in France. More...
Within the equity risk sub-module of the third Quantitative Impact Study (QIS3) undertaken by the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors (CEIOPS), a preamble to the Solvency II supervisory standard, all alternative investments are subject to a capital charge of 45%, nearly 50% higher than the 32% applied to regular equity exposures. In this article, we briefly go over the calculations required for equity risk, and then include a reminder of why hedge funds on average are certainly not the riskiest bet an investor can make. More...
In this study, EDHEC-Risk Institute, while recognising that the directive allows the conditions in which investment companies can operate on the regulated markets or over-the-counter to be harmonised, warns of the eventual adverse effects relating to the obligation of transparency for systematic "internalisers" and the obligation of "best execution". The authors find, in the case of the obligation imposed on systematic “internalisers” to maintain a public spread of prices, that it is prejudicial for this restriction to be removed for the least liquid securities. This provision will lead, in a certain number of cases, (small-caps on markets that are centrally organised at present), to a deterioration in the pre-trade transparency that is currently provided to investors. More...
A new EDHEC position paper entitled "CP20: Significant improvements in the Solvency II framework but grave incoherencies remain", by Philippe Foulquier, Director of the EDHEC Financial Analysis and Accounting Research Centre, and Samuel Sender, Research Associate with the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre, contains EDHEC's answer to CP20, a consultation process initiated by CEIOPS (Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors) on the "Advice to the European Commission in the Framework of the Solvency II Project on Pillar I Issues". More...
In a working paper entitled ‘Quantification of Hedge Fund Default Risk’, which led to the publication of a full article in the Fall issue of the Journal of Alternative Investments, Jean-René Giraud and Stéphane Daul of the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre, together with co-author Corentin Christory, examined numerous cases of hedge fund default in order to find the common factors behind fund failures.
The objective of the paper was to provide an initial framework for quantifying the non-financial extreme risk of hedge funds with the aim of factoring it into the portfolio construction phase. The paper examines the statistical properties of hedge fund failures and attempts to identify essential risk factors that can tentatively explain why certain funds are more likely to default on their investors and creditors than others. A revisited version of this paper was published in the Fall 2006 issue of the Journal of Alternative Investments. More...
In a reply to the CESR Issues Paper on the eligibility of hedge fund indices for the purpose of UCITS, the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre argues that hedge fund indices should not be required to offer more controls and more transparency than existing financial indices such as stock market indices. Likewise, their construction should not be subjected to detailed rules for choosing constituents and implementing rebalancing and weighting mechanisms. More...
Walter Géhin This paper, which is being written to provide an overview of the multitude of publications we have seen on hedge fund performance, is the result of a reading and analysis of about 200 studies on this subject. The issue of performance measurement in the hedge fund industry has led to literature that is both abundant and controversial. The explanation of this complexity lies in the particular features of alternative funds. More...
In a new position paper by Philippe Foulquier, director of the EDHEC Financial Analysis and Accounting Research Centre, and Samuel Sender, research associate with the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre, entitled ‘QIS 2: Modelling that is at odds with the prudential objectives of Solvency II’, EDHEC regrets the approach chosen by the CEIOPS (Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors) for the European Commission as proposed in the QIS 2 (Quantitative Impact Study 2), which does not favour optimal management of the risks of European insurance companies. In light of the changing face of risks and how they are perceived, the existing prudential rules are totally inadequate and the European Commission has established a vast project to overhaul the methods used for calculating the solvency of insurance companies. More...
In a little over a week, Amaranth Advisors, a respected, diversified multi-strategy hedge fund, lost 65% of its $9.2 billion assets. In a paper entitled ‘EDHEC Comments on the Amaranth Case: Early Lessons from the Debacle’, noted commodities expert Hilary Till, Research Associate with the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre and Principal of Premia Capital Management, LLC, examines how Amaranth could have suffered such massive losses and draws lessons from this debacle for investors, funds of fund & energy fund risk managers, multi-strategy hedge fund managers, policy makers, and the alternative investment industry as a whole. More...
In a document entitled ‘A Reply to the CESR Recommendations on the Eligibility of Hedge Fund Indices for Investments of UCITS’, Noël Amenc and Felix Goltz of the EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre have urged the CESR to reconsider their position on suspending the eligibility of hedge fund indices. More...
An article in the June 2006 edition of the European Central Bank’s Financial Stability Review (FSR) claims that hedge fund activities pose considerable risk to the financial system. We disagree with this conclusion, which is based on mere speculation. We outline the fallacies in the reasoning of the FSR article and makes some propositions on how to assess the welfare impacts of hedge funds. In particular, we argue that it would be worthwhile for financial regulators to work towards obtaining data on hedge fund leverage and counterparty credit risk. Such data would allow a reliable assessment of the question of systemic risk. In addition, we argue that besides evaluating potential systemic risk, it should be recognised that hedge funds play an important role as “providers of liquidity and diversification.” More...
Following its meeting in Sonoma, California on July 10-11, 2005, the Financial Economists Roundtable (FER), an international group of senior financial economists, issued a statement in which it warned about the risks involved in investing in hedge funds. The EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Centre, which has carried out a multi-faceted research programme on hedge funds over the past three years, has published a paper by Noël Amenc, PhD, and Mathieu Vaissié in response to the FER statement in which it comments on the FER’s recommendations. More...