Information and Pension Investing



Having read more than a few blog posts about a company called Monitor110, I decided to spend some time at their website. While I know nothing about the company other than what I read, their graphic of the "New Information Dissemination Cycle" fascinates. If true that blog content, local news and other types of non-traditional venues offer a competitive edge to investors, capital markets could be turned upside down.

Just in the last ten or so years, rocket speed transmission of data - aided in part by advanced technology developments and cross-border deregulation - has improved efficiencies, thereby reducing costs and shrinking diversification potential. Some posit this is a good thing. Others complain that it makes it difficult to "beat" the market by accessing and analyzing information not widely known by others. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, having spent several years writing a doctoral dissertation about market microstructure. (I looked at information economics in the form of bid-ask spreads for NYSE-traded stocks across levels of institutional investor ownership and analyst following. Send an email if you would like a copy.)

According to their website, Monitor110 envisions revolutionizing "financial services by enabling Institutional Investors to turn Internet information into alpha generation." At a time when countless pensions, endowments and foundations are scrambling for returns, potential wins have great appeal. (This is not an endorsement of any particular company or strategy. Readers are responsible for their own analysis.)

The role of information in making investment decisions is a topic of great interest to us all. Debating the economic value of information deserves far more space than can be provided here. However, the notion that blogs - and other "non main stream" sources of information - contain pearls of wisdom not yet assimilated by the market certainly merits discussion. One question that arises. Do blogs lead or lag major news announcements? Journalist Chris Nolan has an interesting take on the power of blogs in an article for EWeek.com, writing that, beyond politics, "their value as forums for collective knowledge is becoming known in other areas as well."

What did people do before the Internet came along?