Friday, July 24, 2015

How Did Keynes Perform as an Investor?

John Maynard Keynes is best known as an economist, and his ideas have done much to shape modern economic thought and policies. But there’s a side of Keynes that doesn’t get as much attention as his economic genius: He was an active investor, with an investment philosophy that evolved considerably through trial and error.

David Chambers says that the story of Keynes the investor was not “one of unqualified success,” adding that “for the first decade, [Keynes] kind of matched the market, and for a period of three years in the late 1920s, he actually was substantially behind the market.”

Chambers shares his insights about Keynes the investor from his article “The British Origins of the US Endowment Model,” co-authored with Elroy Dimson and published in the March/April 2015 issue of the Financial Analysts Journal. Although there is a large body of literature surrounding Keynes’s life and his contributions to economics, Chambers and Dimson noticed that there was a dearth of information about Keynes the investor. In their research, the authors managed to find data about his personal trading activities as well as his investment decisions for King’s College, Cambridge.

Chambers talked with Barbara Petitt, CFA, head of journal publications at CFA Institute, about the article.

He describes Keynes as one of the first people “running money in an institutional context . . . looking to invest portfolios across multiple asset classes,” and draws parallels between modern investment strategies and Keynes’s approach to investing.

To learn more about Keynes’s habits and track record as an investor, listen to the interview above. CFA Institute members can read the full article on the CFA Institute Publications website.

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