A Scramble for Alpha in an Alpha Starved Environment
Musing on the Markets

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Have You Seen This?

Have You Seen This?

commentary from this week’s “Sectors and Styles Strategy Report”*:

Unless one buys into the idea implied by the recent price action of US consumer related sectors (see pages 4 and 8*) that economic matters in the US are about to get much better, the only reasonable conclusion one can reach re the recent market action is the hedge fund dominated action of rotational trading. A scramble for alpha in alpha starved environment (for most hedge funds, specifically) appears to be clearly underway.

As noted on numerous occasions and described at my recent NYSSA Market Forecast event, the current equity markets are overwhelmed by short term hedge fund traders with a near non existence from the more traditional investors. For what else can explain the surge and purge nature of the market action overall. Or the recent fascination with the second least attractive sector – Consumer Discretionary?

At the same time, the current US dollar rally (see chart on next page*) has encouraged fence sitters to take the plunge into US assets.

And while the dollar rally may have more strength left in it, the difficulties that the US will face in the coming years should give longer-term investors pause before completely buying into the strong dollar scenario.

Investment Strategy Implications

Just like cyclical corrections in secular bull markets, counter trend moves in bear markets are common. And can be quite productivity played if one is nimble. Combined with the recently oversold Financials sectors (which provides an alleviation of the pressure on the market overall) and strong undervaluation for equities (see next page for several thoughts on this matter*), the reasoning behind a fully invested position for the time being seems warranted.

Nevertheless, as noted in last Thursday’s Minyanville blog posting, this is a game of chicken with one of the signs to keep a watch out for is a return to form, especially in areas such as Consumer Discretionary and Financials.

*Published Aug. 18, 2008. Subscription required.

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Posted 08-21-2008 7:10 AM by Vinny Catalano, CFA
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