Long Term Asset Management Lecture
LTAM 2021 - John Cochrane Keynote Speaker
Several important groups of capital market investors, including public and private defined benefit pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, and endowments associated with foundations, colleges, and universities, have very long investment horizons. In some cases, for example for universities, these long horizons are the result of an institutional mission to serve current and future generations. In others, the long horizon results from liability-driven investing in the presence of very long-duration liabilities.
How well does standard investment theory capture the key tradeoffs facing these investors? The theory of intertemporal portfolio choice suggests that hedging against future deterioration in the investment opportunity set is more important for long- than for short-horizon investors. The extent to which such hedging translates into differences in asset allocation and portfolio holdings is an empirical question. How do long-horizon investors affect asset prices and the performance of capital markets? Does the presence of these investors, who may be more concerned with issues of corporate governance and with a range of low-probability but high-cost risk factors than investors with shorter horizons, affect firm behavior?
To spur research on the theory and practice of long-term investing, and with the generous support of the Norwegian Finance Initiative, in 2016 the NBER launched a project on New Developments in Long-Term Asset Management. The fifth research conference in this series was held virtually on January 21-22, 2021. The keynote address at this conference was delivered by NBER Research Associate John Cochrane, the Rose-Marie and Jack Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His talk began with the observation that there are substantial differences between the lessons of modern portfolio theory and many of the practices of long-term investors. He then asked whether there are missing elements of the theory that are suggested by the behavior of practitioners, whether there are elements of the theory that practitioners should incorporate in their investment decisions, and more generally whether there are ways to better connect theory and practice regarding long-term investing.