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Revisiting Tesla’s Addition to the S&P 500: What’s the Cost, Before and After?
Tesla entered the S&P 500 Index on December 21, 2020. Over the next six months, AIV, the stock deleted to make way for TSLA, outperformed TSLA by a stupendous margin—exactly as we expected, based on our research. Index rebalances impose a variety of costs on investors. Smarter index design could go far to mitigate these costs.

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View long-term expected returns and volatilities for 130 core asset classes.

Which factors have the highest return prospects or lowest transaction costs?

Featured Insights

The Fall of the Titans!
The performance of a market-cap-weighted index is driven by a handful of stocks with the largest capitalizations, but these stocks do not remain at the top for long. A smart beta multi-factor strategy is a good solution for investors concerned about the concentration risk of a passive market-cap tracker.
The Time Is Now: Climate Transition Investing for US Investors
Europe is a step ahead of the United States in climate-related regulation, but we expect a similar regulatory structure will be enacted soon in the United States. US investors have an opportunity now in planning how to align investment decision making with the provisions already outlined by EU regulators.
Return Forecasts & Model Portfolios in a Post-COVID World

Jim Masturzo and Brandon Kunz discuss the firm’s approach to forecasting long-horizon returns across a wide opportunity set. They also introduce Research Affiliates Model Portfolios™, which at various levels of risk tolerance, apply a robust, adaptive, and disciplined systematic asset allocation process to a diversified roster of liquid asset classes.

Factor Timing: Keep It Simple
Factor timing is the ability to add value to an investment strategy by altering the exposure to various factors through time. Our analysis shows that a factor-timing strategy based on a factor’s discount (or valuation) and momentum yields the most robust outcomes.
Big Market Delusion: Electric Vehicles
The siren song of a “big market”—opened through innovation or disruption, such as the newly beloved electric vehicles market—lures investors to enthusiastically push up prices of all firms in the industry as if each will be a major winner. The reality is that as competitors in an evolving industry, some will fail. Pricing each company’s stock without regard to this fact is the “big market delusion.”
As Duration Dies, Equities Rise

We compare the current value of bonds versus stocks within the context of the equity risk premium. We couple this analysis with an evaluation of possible Fed policy direction. Our conclusion is that risk assets, such as US equities and corporate bonds, are poised to benefit as are gold and other commodities due to tumbling real yields and dollar weakening.

How COVID-19 Vaccines and Brexit Create the Trade of the 2020s

In late 2020, UK stocks, and notably UK value, reached very cheap levels relative to value stocks in other developed economies. The added tailwinds from a final Brexit deal and rapid rates of UK COVID vaccination should lead to a vigorous bounce back in UK stocks, in particular UK value stocks, making this sector of the market a “trade of the decade.”

Beware the Shocks in the Road
Massive growth in central bank balance sheets via quantitative easing, debt monetization, and firing of “big bazooka” stimulus packages brings renewed focus to potential shocks in the business cycle. An awareness of the macroeconomic “shocks” and their impact on asset prices should be incorporated in investors’ tactical asset-allocation decisions.
Bitcoin: Magic Internet Money
The sage advice to “know what you are investing in” is being dangerously overlooked by both novice and seasoned investors when it comes to bitcoin. A former bitcoin miner explains why the price of BTC is nearly certainly a bubble and likely manipulated. Investors should proceed with extreme caution.

Insights From Senior Leadership

New Research Insights

Learn more about the latest findings from the Research Affiliates' research team and how we are incorporating these insights into our strategies.

Surprise! Factor Betas Don’t Deliver Factor Alphas

By buying or overweighting characteristics-based factor exposure and selling or underweighting beta-based factor exposure, investors can position their portfolios to reap the rewards of factor investing while bearing less risk.

Tesla, the Largest-Cap Stock Ever to Enter S&P 500: A Buy Signal or a Bubble?
On December 21, 2020, Tesla will be the largest company ever to enter the S&P 500 Index. Tesla’s skyhigh valuation, which meets our real-time definition of a bubble, conforms to the observation that market-cap-weighted indices buy high and sell low—the antithesis of prudent investing.
Is Diversification Dead?
Over the last dozen years, investors holding the classic US 60/40 portfolio were substantially better off than their diversified peers, yet now is not the time to abandon diversification and diversifying asset classes. We believe it is imprudent to trust that escalation in valuations will continue unabated into the next decade and show that an equally weighted portfolio of 16 assets has relentlessly outperformed a 60/40 blend since 1975, supporting the theoretical arguments that underlie the benefits from diversification.

Featured Journal Papers

Reports of Value's Death May Be Greatly Exaggerated
Value investing has underperformed growth investing for the last 13.5 years. The drawdown is the longest and deepest since 1963 and is explained by value becoming unusually cheap relative to growth. As of June 30, 2020, the relative valuation of the HML value factor fell to the 100th percentile of the historical distribution. Published in the Financial Analysts Journal.
Published in the Financial Analysts Journal by Rob Arnott, Campbell Harvey, Vitali Kalesnik, and Juhani Linnainmaa.
Transaction Costs of Factor-Investing Strategies
Although hidden, the implicit market impact costs of factor investing may substantially erode a strategy’s expected excess returns. The rebalancing data of a suite of large and long-standing factor-investing indexes are used in this study to model these market impact costs. Published in the Financial Analysts Journal.
Published in the Financial Analysts Journal by Feifei Li, Tzee Chow, Alex Pickard, and Yadwinder Garg.
Alice’s Adventures in Factorland: Three Blunders That Plague Factor Investing
Winner of the 2020 Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Award for Outstanding Article
Factor investing has failed to live up to its many promises. Its success is compromised by three problems that are often underappreciated by investors. Winner of the 2020 Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award for Outstanding Article.
Published in the Journal of Portfolio Management by Rob Arnott, Vitali Kalesnik, Campbell Harvey, and Juhani Linnainmaa.
Is Your Alpha Big Enough to Cover Its Taxes? A Quarter-Century Retrospective

Recognizing that the management of taxable portfolios has advanced in the past 25 years, the authors of the present paper update a seminal 1993 study in which Robert H. Jeffrey and Robert D. Arnott introduced the concept of a normally negative “tax alpha” and formulated tactics to reduce its detrimental impact on investment results.

Published in the Hournal of Portfolio Management by Rob Arnott, Vitali Kalesnik, and Trevor Schuesler.
Will Your Factor Deliver? An Examination of Factor Robustness and Implementation Costs
Winner of the 2016 Graham & Dodd Scroll Award Of Excellence Paper

Not every factor profits investors when implemented through a passive strategy. Size and quality show weak robustness, and liquidity-demanding factors, such as illiquidity and momentum, are associated with high trading costs.

Published in the Financial Analysts Journal by Jason Hsu, Vitali Kalesnik, Noah Beck, and Helge Kostka.
Hobbled by Benchmarks
Many investment organizations benchmark their funds’ performance against the classic 60/40 mix of domestic stocks and bonds, but this posture limits their ability to earn superior risk-adjusted returns. The authors argue that investors can fully realize the well-established benefits of asset-class diversification only if they are seriously willing to revisit their policy portfolios, investment guidelines, and benchmarks. Published in the Journal of Portfolio Management.
Published in the Journal of Portfolio Management by Rob Arnott, Omid Shakernia, Jonathan Treussard, and Michael Aked.
King of the Mountain: The Shiller P/E and Macroeconomic Conditions
Winner of the 2018 Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Award for Best Article
Valuation, always an effective tool for long-term investors, can also be useful for assessing short-term market prospects. The authors demonstrate that conditioning CAPE on current inflation and real yields substantially improves its accuracy in forecasting returns for periods from one month to one year. Published in the Journal of Portfolio Management. Winner of the 2018 Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award for Best Article.
Published in the Journal of Portfolio Management by Rob Arnott, Tzee Chow, and Denis Chaves.

In The News

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RA Papers On SSRN

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Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award Winner
April 11, 2019
November 24, 2018