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COVID-19

Markets as amplifiers of crises

Financial markets played a central role in creating the problems that ultimately inflicted significant damage on the wider economy - in the dot.com bubble, sub-prime mortgage crisis and the eurozone debt crisis. But what about the unhelpful role that the finance sector can play in amplifying crises that emerge from entirely non-financial origins?
Sustainability

Long-term investors using short-term strategies

There is a contradiction in the way that many long-horizon asset owners behave. On one hand, they are increasingly concerned about the externalities imposed on wider society by the companies they own. But on the other, they tend to ignore the social costs imposed by the short-horizon strategies that they employ such as momentum and tracking error constraints. The transmission mechanism for this social cost is via asset mispricing, which leads to capital misallocation and incentives for CEOs to focus on short-term share price maximisation.
Manager Relationships

Looking less at the scoreboard

Traditional performance monitoring reports do more harm than good, argues Phil Edwards, who suggests a more effective monitoring framework shifts the focus away from performance numbers and towards the fundamental characteristics of the stocks held in the portfolio, perhaps borrowing some elements from private markets.
Asset Allocation

Hiding behind diversification

Modern portfolio theory has created the impression that diversification is always a good thing, but asset owners could benefit from a more sceptical attitude. This article suggests over-diversification favours managers at the expense of returns to investors.
Risk

Is innovation in finance a good thing?

Innovation is usually viewed by economists as a productivity-enhancing force, powering economic growth in modern capitalist societies. But damage can also be done by innovations, especially in the financial sector where agency issues create the potential for negligence and rent extraction. A more cautious perspective might help investors and policymakers better manage the risks that inevitably accompany financial innovations and contribute to more stable and efficient markets.
Organisational Design

Stabilising and destabilising strategies

Phil Edwards CEO of Ricardo Research, a new consulting firm aimed at turning traditional thinking on its head, argues it is time to consider social utility and costs when assessing value add in investment strategies – including the impact products have on stabilising or destabilising market dynamics.
Opinion

Mercer’s four themes for 2018

Mercer delves into central bank policy, geopolitics, macroeconomics and sustainability to kick off four discussions investors need to have as they prepare for a more changeable year ahead.
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