The process of selling the upside potential of an asset in exchange for downside price protection. For example, a wheat farmer may use the futures market to hedge or protect against future adverse price movements (e.g. prices for wheat being lower in the future when it is time to harvest and sell the wheat).

No Time for Guarantees

The concept is seductive: a financial product that provides upside exposure in the event that equity markets trend up and to the right while also providing a floor of protection in case the bottom falls-out from under markets again.

Sort of like having your cake and eating it too. Very tempting in light of the massive financial uncertainty that has existed for the past several years.

Products playing into this “upside plus protection” theme include (but are not limited to) variable annuities with guaranteed...

Mark Warshawsky on the Retirement Income Market

Mark J. Warshawsky is Director of Retirement Research at Towers Watson.

Dr. Warshawsky served as assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2004-2006 and he has held senior level economic research positions at the Federal Reserve Board, the Internal Revenue Service and...

Pimco’s Gross Describes a New Age of Risk

Pacific Investment Management Company (Pimco) founder and co-chief investment officer Bill Gross offered a revised view of the global investing landscape in a letter published on the company’s website. 

As the manager of the Pimco Total Return Fund, Gross’s 2011 investment decisions were driven in part by the “new normal” thesis. 

The new normal view...

Trees Grow

“Trees grow” is an adage that has stuck with me over the past several years.

In a post financial crisis interview, a successful investment manager was talking about his decision to load-up on Citigroup and a handful of other banks in early 2009 when the decision to do so was difficult to say the least.

The manager referenced a professor who shared the trees grow saying with him, and he emphasized the impact that the idea had on his decision to build and maintain significant long positions in banks and other financial services stocks when everyone else was certain the world was coming to an end.

The trees grow idea involves considering fundamental qualities of things—whether trees, people or businesses.

Growing is what trees do—it is...


Longevity Market Development Still in Infancy

A recent article in Bloomberg discusses the state of capital market solutions for the transfer of longevity risk . The reality is that the longevity market is still in its infancy and there are a number of obstacles that are affecting its development. One of the main hurdles involves the fact that longevity risk is very long-term in nature. Securities that mature over the course of 20 years are not hugely appealing to hedge fund managers who are providing quarterly performance reports to their...
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