Friday, January 01, 2010

David Swenson Lecture

So long 2009, Hello 2010!

Let's start the new year right with a great video refresher on long term investing by Yale Endowment hall of famer, David Swenson. It's long but well worth the view. And be sure to watch the Q&A at the end. Some highlights from the lecture:

Swenson covered 3 areas in relation to portfolio returns:
  1. Asset Allocation
  2. Market Timing
  3. Security Selection

Swenson believes Market Timing and Security Selection are actually a negative drag on returns. And Asset Allocation produce over 100% of the returns. Does a nice job explaining this.

Also covers how survivorship & backfill bias makes things seem better than they really are. I was really surprised at some of the numbers he shared on this topic. Based on Swenson's study...I would have thought survivorship bias would impact my long-term trading system's results more than they have.

The best tidbit mentioned in the video was Swenson's coverage of the differences 1st quartile managers generate versus 3rd quartile. In the bond market he found very little difference between the best managers returns and those in the 3rd quartile. But, as he drove down into the more inefficient markets...the differences between the best and the rest grew further apart. Swenson's take: spend time and energy persuing the most inefficiently priced asset classes cause great rewards in finding the top managers.

The final item I took away was from the Q&A session at the end. Swenson worries about the top down but invests from the bottom up. Identifies asset classes that are overpriced or underpriced. Extends his time horizon out 3 or 4 years. Bets big while keeping his asset allocation to the asset class at an annually reviewed level.

Well, that's it from the cold midwest where I plan to spend the first day of the new year: taking the kids to get doughnuts in the morning, hopefully watching snow fall during the day, and enjoying some great fajitas and cervezas for dinner.

Happy New Year,


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