Sunday, May 28, 2017

When will the market top out?

Preface: 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 the 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 to look for changes in the direction of the main Trend Model signal. A bullish Trend Model signal that gets less bullish is a trading "sell" signal. Conversely, a bearish Trend Model signal that gets less bearish is a trading "buy" signal. 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 the trading model has shown turnover rates of about 200% per month.

The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Risk-on*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* 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 mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers will also receive email notices of any changes in my trading portfolio.

History rhymes
Last week's post (see A market top checklist) generated many questions and much discussion. While there was general acceptance of my thesis that an intermediate top is not imminent, most of the questions revolved around how far away the market top is. As well, there were some queries about equity downside risk in the next bear market.

The respected Jesse Livermore, who writes at Philosophical Economics, recently chimed in on the topic:

I believe that those questions could be answered in a number of ways. Consider this chart from Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs that I showed several weeks ago (see Are the Fed and PBoC taking away the punch bowl?). One reasonable approach might be, "Since major bear market episodes are caused by economic recessions, how far away were previous market tops when the 9 quarter recession risk reached 30%, which is the current reading today?"

The answer is somewhat surprising, and a closer examination of the data shows that a simplistic application of historical studies can lead investors astray. In other words, history doesn't repeat itself, but rhymes.

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

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