• What is Alpha  

    Why Alpha Matters

    August 19, 2020
    361 Team

    While the term “alpha” is widely used, in our experience, it’s not particularly well understood. Alpha, properly defined, is return in excess of what could have been expected given the risks assumed to generate the returns. Notice that this is not strictly outperformance relative to a benchmark, but rather, its relative performance given the level of risk taken.

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    In its 63-year history, the S&P 500 Index has become the center of the investment universe. In many cases, investors would be wise to resist its gravitational pull. Its ubiquity has also caused many investors and investment professionals to mistakenly apply the index as a mental benchmark for relative performance, even though the strategy it is compared with may invest in entirely different markets or securities.

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    In the fourth quarter, the Health Care sector was the best performing group in the small cap benchmark, returning 22.3%, or more than double the Russell 2000 Index’s 9.9% return.

  • Bias in Investing  

    The room is surrounded with people and cameras and in the middle of it all sits an oval table with bright green felt big enough to sit nine people, a dealer, and two piles of poker chips. Before the cards are even dealt you have a good feeling about this hand, so you peek and see a 7 of clubs and a 2 of hearts. Despite knowing that this is statistically the worst hand in poker, you trust your “gut” and decide to call your opponent. To your delight, 7, 7, 2 comes on the flop, with these cards you know that you’ve gone from the statistically worst hand in poker to one of the best possible outcomes. Question: Did you make a good decision?

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    1. You’ve contemplated buying Bitcoin in the last 7 days…