Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A 2018 report card

The year is nearly over, and it is time to issue a report card for my investor and trading models. Overall, both had good years, except for the trading blemish at year-end.

My inner investor could not have asked for much more. He was correctly bullish during the run-up from early 2016, and turned cautious at the January top. He turned bullish again as the market corrected in February, and became cautious again in August (see A major top ahead? My inner investor turns cautious).

The cautiousness turned into bearishness in early December when my Ultimate Market Timing Model flashed a sell signal after a 10% drawdown (see A bear market is now underway). As a reminder, the Ultimate Market Timing Model is a very slow turnover model that changes its views only every few years. It was designed for by investors with long term horizons, with the intention of avoiding the worse of equity drawdowns associated with major bear markets:
I am indebted to the blogger at Philosophical Economics who suggested a macro overlay to trend following systems (see Building the ultimate market timing model). Major bear markets generally occur under recessionary conditions. Why not ignore moving average signals until your macro model is forecasting a recession?

This “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is ultimately beneficial for long-term investors. If you could cut off the left tail of the return distribution and avoid the really ugly losses, you could run a slightly more aggressive asset mix and receive a higher expected return with lower risk. For example, if the standard risk-return analysis dictates a 60% stock and 40% bond asset mix, you could change it to a 70/30 mix with this model, and get downside risk similar to the 60/40 portfolio. To be sure, this system isn’t perfect, and anyone using such a model will have to incur “normal” equity risk, and it would not have kept you out of the market in the 1987 Crash.
Little did I expect the market to fall so dramatically after that sell signal, but I can't ask for much more in an asset allocation model, either on an intermediate or long term perspective.

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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