Market Rewind on Risk

Since Joe Nocera, Michael Lewis and David Einhorn all had a chance to talk about risk in yesterday’s Required Reading segment, I thought it was timely of Jeff Pietsch at Market Rewind to pick this morning to offer up some of his thoughts on the subject of risk.

In ETF Risk in Review, Pietsch draws on data from his ETF Rewind tool to tackle the subject of risk-adjusted performance and ranks the 2008 performance of various ETFs within their grouping according to a Sortino Ratio (similar to the more familiar Sharpe Ratio, but the Sortino Ratio not penalize performance for upside volatility.) Not surprisingly, consumer staples (XLP) and health care (XLV) turn in the some of the best risk-adjusted performance numbers for 2008, while financials (XLF), emerging markets (EEM) and real estate (IYR) are notable laggards.

One key take away from the analysis is the value of thinking of ETFs in terms of miniature portfolios whose performance can be evaluated on a risk-adjusted basis. We witnessed history in 2008 and as painful as some of that history may have been to live through, hopefully we all enter 2009 with the benefit of a healthier and more sophisticated perspective on volatility and risk.

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