Value Investing and Financials

Disproportionately, value managers are buyers of financial stocks.  This is a result of index construction, because financials trade at relatively low multiples of book value.  Financial stocks led the rally from 1987-2007, and for the most part, it was a good era for value investors.  Value investors tend not to focus on macro concerns; they just want to pick good stocks.

But what the value managers did not appreciate was that a lot of the outperformance of financials stemmed from the willingness of the Fed to engage in a reckless monetary policy that never allowed recessions to clear away the bad debt, and thus the debt/GDP ratio kept on building.  Along with that, poor bank regulation, led by the Fed, drove a decline in underwriting standards.

Well, no surprise that value managers did badly 2007 to the present.  And they will still do badly as debts are deflated, to the extent that they own banks.  There will come a time to own banks, but I think we have to go through one or two more macro-shocks before overall debt levels are reconciled.

I own no banks or REITs.  I own a number of insurers, all of which are conservatively managed.