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CFA Institute Pubs

CFA Institute publications give you the best and latest in investment management research targeted at the investment professional. There is a wealth of information waiting in the pages of our publications.

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Financial Analysts Journal, January/February 2007 (Table of Contents)

Pensions are the focus of this issue, which includes descriptions of the problems confronting defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans and thoughtful, creative solutions to the problems.

7mins

23 Mar 2007

Rank #1

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What Caused the Great Moderation? Some Cross-Country Evidence (Digest Summary)

Volatility of GDP has fallen dramatically over the last 20–30 years in most industrialized economies. In the G–7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Australia, the magnitude of this so-called moderation was similar but the timing was not. The moderation appeared as early as the early 1970s (e.g., Germany) and as late as the late 1980s (e.g., Canada). The author examines three possible explanations in this eight-country sample. These explanations include better monetary policy, structural changes in inventory management, and a fortuitous yet random period of few economic shocks.

2mins

16 Feb 2007

Rank #2

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CMBS Credit Protection and Underwriting Standards (Digest Summary)

The authors present trends in credit protection terms of loan portfolios secured by commercial property, called commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). They argue that declining interest rates and strong credit performance have increased the attractiveness of CMBS to investors. Because few attractive alternatives exist, credit spreads have decreased and investors have made concessions on loan terms.

2mins

16 Feb 2007

Rank #3

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Long-Term Returns on the Original S&P 500 Companies (Digest Summary)

The S&P 500 Index is continually updated, with approximately 20 companies added each year and an equal number dropped. In the study reported here, the returns to all 500 of the original S&P 500 companies and returns to the companies subsequently added to the index were calculated from March 1957 through 2003. Contrary to earlier research, this study found that the buy-and-hold returns of the 500 original companies have been higher than the returns to the continually updated S&P 500 and with lower risk. Furthermore, the original companies in 9 of the 10 industry sectors outperformed the new companies added to the index.

3mins

16 Feb 2007

Rank #4

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Human Capital, Asset Allocation, and Life Insurance (Digest Summary)

Financial planners and advisors increasingly recognize that human capital must be taken into account when building optimal portfolios for individual investors. But human capital is not simply another pre-endowed asset class; it contains a unique mortality risk in the form of the loss of future income and wages in the event of the wage earner's death. Life insurance hedges this mortality risk, so human capital affects both optimal asset allocation and demand for life insurance. Yet, historically, asset allocation and life insurance decisions have been analyzed separately. This article develops a unified framework based on human capital that enables individual investors to make these decisions jointly.

4mins

16 Feb 2007

Rank #5

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A Point-in-Time Perspective on Through-the-Cycle Ratings (Digest Summary)

Several surveys conducted in the United States reveal that most investors believe rating agencies are too slow in adjusting their ratings to changes in corporate creditworthiness. It is well known that agencies achieve rating stability by their through-the-cycle methodology. This study provides quantitative insight into this methodology from an investor's point-in-time perspective and quantifies the effects of the methodology on three, somewhat conflicting, objectives: rating stability, rating timeliness, and performance in predicting defaults. The results can guide the search for an optimal balance among these three objectives.

4mins

16 Feb 2007

Rank #6

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Performance Attribution of US Institutional Investors

The author studies the investment performance of all types of institutional investors in the United States from 1981 to 2002. The results indicate that institutional investors in general have been successful in managing client money. Institutional investors have added significant value by generating excess returns after controlling for underlying portfolio risk factors. Most of the returns generated can be attributed to the investment style choice, but institutional investors also displayed significant stock selection skills during the period.

4mins

23 Aug 2006

Rank #7

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A Natural Experiment in Monetary Policy Covering Three Episodes of Growth and Decline in the Economy and the Stock Market

The author presents evidence that the money supply has a major effect on GDP and stock prices. This conclusion is drawn from observing the effect on nominal GDP (for which the proxy is M2 or equivalent) and the stock market (for which the proxy is the S&P 500 Index) during three notable boom/bust periods in the United States and Japan. All three of these time periods were sparked by significant technological change and exhibited a long period of economic growth followed by an economic decline and stock market crash. He concludes that the subsequent economic and market recovery is directly correlated to the monetary policy during the post-boom period.

3mins

23 Aug 2006

Rank #8

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A Factor Approach to Asset Allocation

The authors contend that an additional set of global market factors can be used to further diversify a global portfolio's risk exposure. Global portfolios are formed based on exposures to fundamental factor characteristics of markets within asset classes. The authors illustrate the use of such a factor-based framework to provide diversification benefits but note that changing factor exposures over time can cause implementation difficulties.

4mins

23 Aug 2006

Rank #9

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Economic Growth and Equity Returns

The author reports a negative relationship between per capita income growth and real equity returns and then presents arguments that even future economic growth is irrelevant in predicting equity returns. After making the case that economic growth supported by technological change does not benefit existing shareholders, the author concludes that earnings yield is what really matters in predicting future equity returns.

4mins

23 Aug 2006

Rank #10