Does consistency mean less risk?

Stephen Groff's picture

Who doesn’t like consistency? People naturally prefer what is highly predictable over what is volatile for obvious reasons. The only issue with consistency is that it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when volatility is low. When returns or earnings appear too consistent (good) to be true, in many cases they are. Whether it is earnings management or outright fraud, excessive consistency can often be a red flag.

Societe General recently published an interesting piece looking at a number of economic variables in emerging economies. They note the variability of Chinese GDP growth is astonishingly low, especially considering it is an emerging market. The author makes the very valid point that: “Either China is the most well-managed economy in the world or the data is the most well managed in the world.” You can decide for yourself.

At the end of the day, investors need to be mindful of risks they are taking. Past consistency does not mean a lack of risk. We think there is merit to the concern about the quality of data from China.

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