AQR’s Cliff Asness Blasts Those Who Call It “A Stock Picker’s Market”

Cliff Asness Blasts Those Who Call It “A Stock Picker’s Market”

Tyler Durden on 01/03/2014 21:45 -0500


Cliff Asness would politely request people stop saying “It’s a stock picker’s market.” While pairwise correlations have dropped to post-crisis lows, they remain elevated to ‘normal’ levels but, as Asness rages, perhaps asset managers who rely on this ‘weak’ phrase should more honestly note “I think they mean, “We will have to pick stocks now because the market isn’t making us money the easy way.”

One of Cliff Asness’ Pet Peeves…

I don’t know what it means to say, “It’s a stock picker’s market.”

It may mean the whole market isn’t going straight up now so you have to make your money picking the right stocks, but I don’t understand why active managers would suddenly get better at stock picking at those times. Note that I do think a valid use of this concept may occur when, after adjusting for market moves, there is not a lot of dispersion in stock returns, meaning that individual stocks tend to move in lockstep, leaving little idiosyncratic volatility — a necessary (but not sufficient!) ingredient to generate outperformance (assuming one is unwilling to lever up smaller differences at these times). But that’s a quant measure, and I don’t think that’s what many people mean by this comment.

I think they mean, “We will have to pick stocks now because the market isn’t making us money the easy way.” To the extent I’m wrong, I withdraw the peeve (is there a specific form I need to file for that?).

Similarly, you often hear financial professionals say such things as “forecasting market direction from here is exceptionally difficult” in a tone conveying “gee, this is really strange.” Well, I think forecasting the market over short-term horizons is always exceptionally difficult.

If they said, “Our market-timing forecasts are mostly useless most of the time, but right now, they are completely useless,” I suppose I’d be OK with it, but I’m not holding my breath that they will.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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