Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dear Morgan Stanley: Here is the bull case

Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on research outlined in our post Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses the trading component of the Trend Model seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend getting better (bullish) or worse (bearish)?" The history of actual out-of-sample (not backtested) signals of the trading model are shown by the arrows in the chart below. Past trading of this model has shown turnover rates of about 200% per month.

The signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Risk-off*
  • Trading model: Bearish*

* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet any changes during the week at @humblestudent. Subscribers will also receive email notices of any changes in my trading portfolio.

Here is the bull case
Last week, Morgan Stanley strategist Adam Parker admitted defeat. He conceded that "our portfolio advice has been pretty horrendous lately. As my 90-year old Latin teacher used to tell the class in 1985, `son, you are in left field, without a glove, with the sun in your eyes.`" (via Zero Hedge). Beaten and battered, he concluded that the only bull case for stocks was there was no bull case:
What’s the bull case? The positives are this: no one is articulating a bull case for US equities with conviction. Earnings expectations are potentially low. There is some fiscal stimulus this year (vs. drag previous years). The Presidential candidates don’t appear to be multiple expanders now, but they will get more centrist and the riffraff will be removed in a few more weeks. Sentiment is low (two weeks ago an investor on a panel we moderated said “It is a multi-variable world and every variable is negative”.) The US probably looks relatively better than other parts of the world. So maybe, the bull case is just that no one can articulate a bull case.
If Parker had read my commentary last weekend, he would have understood the bull case (see Profit by thinking like Big Money). To put it very simply, the bull case for stocks can be summarized in two words: "Growth surprise".

The full post is at our new site here.

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