Category Archives: equity market

13/9/18: Concentration Risk: IPOs, New Firms Arrivals & Super Stars


One of my favourite long-run tail risks to watch in the financial markets (and indeed, due to ongoing monopolisation trends, in the entire economy) is concentration risk. Here is an absolutely epic post from @michaelbatnick on the subject of increasing concentration in equity markets driven by the growing trend toward keeping new tech mega starts private: http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/09/10/making-private-public/

Aside from compiling a treasure trove of data, the post brings to light some interesting observations, not necessarily central to the author's core arguments.

Take, for example, this chart:


The post correctly views this as evidence that both volumes and numbers of IPOs have been relatively steady over the recent years. Albeit, both are running woefully below the pre-dot.com bust era averages. And, as other evidence presented shows, this is not the feature of the dot.com bubble build up phase: in fact, numbers of IPOs have been running well below the 1980-2000 average since the dot.com bust.

Maturity to IPO duration is also longer:

Which, of course, supports higher median IPO size in the chart above. Controlling for this, the collapse in IPOs activity in 2001-2018 period is probably much more dramatic, than the first chart above indicates. Or, put differently, IPOs are now more concentrated in the space of older, and hence more able to raise funds, companies. That is a phenomenon consistent with concentration risk rising.

It is also a phenomenon consistent with the hypothesis that entrepreneurialism is declining in the U.S. as younger, more entrepreneurial ventures are clearly less capable of accessing public equity markets today than in pre-2001 period.

There is a lot, really a lot, more worth reading in the post. But here are two more charts, speaking directly to the issue of concentration risk:

 and

Yes, the markets are dominated by a handful of stocks when it comes to providing returns. Namely, Facebook and Alibaba account for a whooping 85% of the total market cap gains since 2012. $85 of each $100 in market cap increases went to just these two companies.

This is concentration risk at work. Even tightly thematic investment strategies, e.g. ESG risk hedging investments, cannot avoid crowding into a handful of shares. Any tech sector blowout is going to be systemic, folks.

4/12/17: The Other Hockey Stick (not Bitcoin)


Financialization of the global economy is now complete, thanks to the world's hyperactive Central Banks and the age of riskless recklessness they engendered.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-12-04/98-750-067-000-000-reasons-to-be-scared-about-2018

The notable 'hockey stick' that is, dynamically reminiscent of the Bitcoin craze is now evident in the stock markets too, and it has zero parallels in the post-dot.com period. In fact, this is the highest global market capitalization level on record, as data from the World Bank augmented with current data through November 2017 shows:

You can think of the stratospheric rise in world equities valuations as a reflection of liquidity supply generated by the Central Banks since 2007. You can also think of it as a wealth buffer built up by the world's wealthy elites to protect themselves against potential future stagnation and political populism. You can equally think of it as a bubble.

Whichever way you spin these numbers, the rate of increase since 2015 has been simply unprecedented by historical standards, faster than the dot.com bubble and faster than the pre-GFC bubble.