Trendfollowing

YTD Performance of Crisis Hedge Strategies

25.June 2020

After a month, we are back with a year-to-date performance analysis of a few selected trading strategies. In the previous article, we were writing about the performance of equity factors during the coronavirus crisis. Several readers asked us to take a look also on different types of trading strategies, so we are now expanding to other asset classes. We picked a subset of strategies that can be used as a hedge at the times of market stress (at least, that’s what the source academic research papers indicate) and checked how they fared.

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Trend Breaks in Trend-Following Strategies

9.June 2020

Trend-following strategies are very effective when markets are cleanly trending, but they suffer when trends end too soon. How markets behaved during the last few years, were they prone to last-longing trends? Are we able to immunize trend-following to endure the negative impact of trend breaks better? A research paper written by Garg, Goulding, Harvey, and Mazzoleni finds a negative relationship between the number of turning points (a month in which slow 12-month and faster 2-month momentum signals differ in their indications to buy or sell) and risk-adjusted performance of a 12-month trend-following strategy. The average number of turning points experienced across assets has increased in recent years. But we can implement a “dynamic” trend-following strategy that adjusts the weight it assigns to slow and fast time-series momentum signals after observing market breaks to recover much of the losses experienced by static-window trend following…

Authors: Garg, Goulding, Harvey, Mazzoleni

Title: Breaking Bad Trends

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Modelling the Bottom of the Covid-19 Financial Crisis

17.March 2020

The global pandemic of current scope is something that was experienced by only a few living people. We have some historical accounts of how it unfolded in the past, but otherwise, it is uncharted territory. It is a true Black Swan event – event that I believe was in nobody’s lineup of stress testing scenarios. But we can still try to get some understanding of the scope of the current situation.

The actual global crisis is a mix of 2 crisis. The first one is the health-care / pandemic crisis, during which millions of people will be infected, and unfortunately, a lot of people will die. The second crisis is the economic crisis/recession, which will follow simultaneously with (or soon after) the first one (due to the decrease in worldwide supply and demand).

The second crisis cannot end before the first one is solved. We cannot exactly say when the market bottom will occur, but at least we can try to model the minimum time needed for things to get under control during the pandemic.

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Bitcoin in a Time of Financial Crisis

16.March 2020

One of the very often promoted attributes of Bitcoin is said to be its “safe heaven” characteristic. Some cryptocurrency proponents advocate that Bitcoin can be used as a store of value mainly during the economic and financial crisis. We argue that it’s not so.

Bitcoin (and all cryptocurrencies too) is, in our opinion, fundamentally more similar to stocks of small companies from the technological sector. It is a very speculative bet on blockchain technology. It may seem unrelated to the broader equity market (like the S&P 500 index) during normal times. But when a stressful time comes, investors are more concerned to meet a deadline for the next mortgage payment. This is the time when the speculative bets are closed, and cash is raised. And this is precisely the time when Bitcoin falls as equities do too.

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Do Copycat CTAs Outperform Individualistic CTAs?

13.February 2020

Our society teaches us, that it is good to be different. That our trading strategy must be always unique, creative and individualistic. It is boring and unprofitable to be the “average”, to do what the others do. And then, there is a research paper written by Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian which offers the opposite view. Their analysis explains there exist one hedge fund style where everything is the other way round – trend-following CTAs funds. Their interesting (but for some maybe controversial) paper shows that CTAs with returns that correlate more strongly with those of peers have higher performance. It appears that CTA strategy conformity is a signal of managerial skill. Now, that is an eccentric idea 🙂

Authors: Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian

Title: When It Pays to Follow the Crowd: Strategy Conformity and CTA Performance

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Why Did Trend-Following Underperform Last Decade?

20.December 2019

Trend-following funds and strategies were once extremely popular after the 2008/2009 crisis. They offered attractive performance, and diversification properties made them a nice addition to investor’s portfolios. Ten years later, “trend-following strategy” is not such a popular word. Strategies didn’t blow-up, but their performance was far from spectacular. What are the main reasons for that? Is it an increased correlation among markets? Are trend rules inefficient? An important recent academic study written by Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos (all from AQR Capital Management) analyzes trend-following performance for each decade in the last 140 years and uses three distinct factors: the magnitude of market moves, the efficacy of trend-following strategies at capturing profitability from market moves, and the degree of diversification across trends in a trend-following portfolio. They show that it’s the first factor (a lack of large risk-adjusted market moves, positive or negative) that had the biggest impact in the last decade. This suggests that trend-following strategies should be able to deliver better performance in the future if the size of the market moves reverts to levels more consistent with the long-term historical distribution of returns…

Authors: Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos

Title: You Can’t Always Trend When You Want

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