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Fundamental indexing is the debonair Dex to good old passive investing in market cap funds.
It’s newer, glossier, cooler (flying under the beguiling ‘smart beta’ banner) and it has a smooth line in proprietary patter that promises good times ahead. I’m attracted to fundamental indexing because it offers the chance to capitalise on the value premium. The first thing to note is that fundamental ETFs do not follow a traditional market cap index. In other words, if company A is ten times the size of company B by market value then it does not automatically get ten times the presence in a fundamental index. Traditional market cap indices struggle to defend themselves against the accusation that they bloat up on overvalued equities, mechanically shoveling in more of the hot stuff like a compulsive eater – especially when the market is frothy.
In contrast, fundamental indices are meant to break this impulse by choosing equities according to a different menu. In the case of the FTSE RAFI ETFs, their index encompasses a broad universe of equities, just like a vanilla index tracker. These company ‘fundamentals’ are well known health indicators that transmit information about the underlying state of the business. They are also the source of the value premium, and fundamental indices are tilted in favour of equities that are cheap on those measures.
Also, because a RAFI index uses the average of the last five years’ worth of sales, cash flow and dividends for each company, its rankings are less influenced by short-term noise than a market cap index. Every time a RAFI index rebalances (once a year) it’s mostly using historical data to determine its rankings – data that only partially reflects the troubles of a recently impaired firm. That’s absolutely fine if you believe the market generally over-reacts to bad news, and such companies are reputedly the source of some of the value premium.
The risks of fundamental indexing are highlighted by a comparison of the Powershares FTSE RAFI 100 ETF (PSRU) against its market cap rival – the iShares FTSE 100 ETF (ISF). 52% of PSRU is devoted to its top 10 holdings versus 48% of ISF and 37% of Vanguard’s All-Share tracker. PSRU’s loadings are the natural outcome of its value tilt – the source of its potential to beat the pants off the market, but also the source of its volatility. Fundamental products are also typically more expensive than market cap trackers and PSRU is no exception. Riskier, darker, more intense, more money… how can you resist the RAFIsh charms of fundamental indexing?

It’s probably not going to happen, but the irony is that if the whole world suddenly switched to fundamental indexing, then they would probably find that market-weighted indices would outperform. If all active funds took up an an equal weight index, for example, as their benchmark then that might have a significant effect.
According to key investor information document (KIIF), the Powershares RAFI 100 has a maximum entry charge of 3% and a maximum exit charge of 3% too.
So…basically a way for a fund manager to quadruple the fees on an index tracker product? Do you think that by changing the weighting of some stock in the FTSE-100 index by a paltry 5-10% you are going to make back an extra 0.3% a year in additional charges? Actually the behaviour can be significantly different (though not especially so in the case of the RAFI funds). I’m mainly concerned that the stocks the minimum volatility funds are weighted towards are the ones that seem really overvalued right now, the exact opposite of what one would naively expect! While in their recent meeting, John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart looked forward to taking their bi-lateral relations to the next level, Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his attempts at pacifying the House of Saud turned out to be a “glorious” failure of diplomacy.
The “bad mood” scenario seems to be unsettling the old “friends” and paving the way for “new friendships.” A gradual, historical and important development is in the offing. Although the Obama administration has sold almost $95 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, the two countries differ on core issues such as Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Riyadh’s strong view that the US is withdrawing from the region, the Iranian nuclear deal and the US “acquiescence” in a rising Iran have created suspicion and mistrust forcing Saudi Arabia to review its foreign policy.
That the House of Saud is extremely unsettled by these developments is evident from the emphasis it placed on the need to counter regional “mischief-makers” in the final statement of the Istanbul summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Of course, the final statement was not read out due to opposition from certain members and Iran’s threat and pressure, but the mere inclusion of these paragraphs in the final statement was enough to prompt Iranian president and foreign minister not to take part in the final session. Dynamics of their relations are changing and are likely to change further in the near future, where we might see renewed emphasis within Saudi Arabia on re-defining relations with Russia as well as Israel.
Salman Rafi Sheikh is a freelance journalist and research analyst of international relations and Pakistan affairs. Once upon a time in America: A tale of Charles Erskine Scott Wood15 August 2016 - Doug TsuruokaA soot-black Roman oil lamp from Pompeii. First Trust Advisors AlphaDEX (note the Dex!) ETFs are the latest sophisticates, but the main players are the Invesco Powershares FTSE RAFI ETFs. So whereas distressed firms automatically sink in a market cap index, they actually rebound back up a fundamental index.

But we underestimate the wisdom of the market at our peril, and a strategy that doesn’t screen for distressed companies piles on the risk as well as the potential for greater returns.
Growth shares would be systematically underweighted whilst declining companies would be systematically overweighted. I makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or any damages arising from its display or use. Eight decades of strategic ties between Washington and Riyadh are undergoing a fundamental change. The former US official has declared that the documents he was working with contained information on Saudi Arabia’s training of the terrorists who committed these horrendous attacks. The final statement of the summit has at least three paragraphs against Iran and one against the Lebanese resistance-militant movement, Hezbollah. His area of interest is South and West Asian politics, the foreign policies of major powers, and Pakistani politics.
Please do check out some of the best articles or follow our posts via Facebook, Twitter, email or RSS.Offer: Head to RateSetter to earn 4% or more – and a ?100 sign-up bonus! It is not that the two countries will suddenly throw away all bonds of friendship and turn into all-out enemies. Gradual reduction of the U.S dependence on Saudi oil and the falling position of Saudi Arabia in the management of global oil market – which was evident recently through the failure of the Qatar meeting – have caused another bond of alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia to lose steam. Moreover, on April 18, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications and Speech-Writing Ben Rhodes announced that the creation of al-Qaeda was sponsored by funds allocated by the Saudi government and Al Saud royal family members.
Every attempt was self-sabotaged by the fear that somewhere out there lurked Dex, ready to steal his beloved away.
Without doubt, the crisis in Syria is at the heart of the building process of this new order.
What it can do, and is already trying to do, is to keep a calculated distance from Saudi Arabia.

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