The Return of the Fed Model Investors’ Risky Bet on Familiar Territory


The Return of the Fed Model the financial landscape witnesses the reemergence of the Fed Model, a once-popular but historically flawed market-timing tool. With interest rates stubbornly elevated, investors turn to this model, despite its lack of theoretical grounding and dismal past performance.

Understanding the Fed Model

The Fed Model juxtaposes the stock market’s earnings yield with the 10-year Treasury yield to gauge market sentiment. Advocates of the model suggest bullishness on equities when the difference is positive and bearishness when negative. Presently, the model signals bearishness as the S&P 500’s earnings yield falls below the 10-year Treasury yield.

The Fed Model indicates bearishness as S&P 500 earnings yield dips below 10-year Treasury yield, according to WSJ Subscription Deals.

A History of Misfires

Despite criticisms, the return of the Fed Model is stirring debate. While its simplicity has been faulted by investors like Cliff Asness, proponents argue for its relevance with enhancements. They advocate for its judicious use alongside other tools, recognizing the need for refinement. By incorporating insights from behavioral finance and macroeconomic trends, the revived Fed Model aims to offer a nuanced view of market valuations, addressing concerns raised by critics.

Flaws and Failures

Analysis reveals the fundamental flaws in the Fed Model’s approach. Data since 1871 indicates that the model’s predictive power, measured by the r-squared statistic, significantly lags behind using the earnings yield alone.

Theoretical Inconsistencies

Renowned investors like Cliff Asness criticize the Fed Model for its theoretical inconsistency, comparing real earnings yield with nominal Treasury yields. Asness argues that this oversimplified approach fails to account for factors like inflation expectations and risk premiums. He advocates for comprehensive models considering a broader range of variables for accurate market assessments.

The Quest for Improvement

Antti Ilmanen suggests improvements to the Fed Model, like using real yields and the Cyclically Adjusted P/E ratio. Yet, results often lag historical averages, indicating incomplete market understanding. Investors should be cautious, considering various factors for reliable investment decisions beyond simplistic models.

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