Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ursus Interruptus

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 a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.

The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bearish*
  • 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 mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.

Why I turned bullish
A number of readers were surprised by my change of recent change of view (see A rare "what's my credit card limit" buy signal), I had been adopting a cautious tone since August (see Market top ahead? My inner investor turns cautious).

The September to December decline had been highly ambiguous. I believed that unless I could pinpoint the reasoning behind the risk-off episode, it was impossible to call a market bottom. However, US equity prices had already fallen about 20% on a peak-to-trough basis, and the historical evidence indicates that such a decline is already discounting a mild recession. How much worse can it get?

In addition, technical signals such as the Zweig Breadth Thrust (see A rare "what's my credit card limit" buy signal) indicate that psychology is washed-out and turning around. The statistical odds favor high prices over a one-year time frame.

That said, I stand by my assertion of a choppy market for the next few months. Even though the odds are in the bulls favor, key risks remain unresolved and they are likely to weigh on the market in the near term.
  • Negative fundamental momentum, in the form of downward earnings revisions and a decelerating macro outlook;
  • China and the trade war;
  • Trump's likely confrontation with the Democrats may lead to a political risk premium; and
  • Credit markets remain unsettled, and monetary policy could put downward pressure on stock prices.
The full post can be found at our new site here.

A Special Announcement
We told you so. We told you the market was going down.

Here is the track of Humble Student of the Markets, where we are neither perma-bulls nor perma-bears. Most recently, we have been correctly bullish since the correction of 2015, and turned cautious in August 2018 (see Market top ahead? My inner investor turns cautious, August 5, 2018).

We were also timely at the 2009 bottom. We issued a call to buy beaten up low-priced stocks with high insider buying a week before the ultimate bottom (see Phoenix rising? February 24, 2009).

The out-of-sample record of our model trading portfolio in 2018 was up 42.9%. For more details, see our weekly updates here.

The recent market volatility has brought a flood of new subscribers, and we are announcing a price increase, and a number of other changes in order to better control the growth of our community. However, all subscribers will be grandfathered at their old prices.

The following changes will occur as of March 1, 2019:
  • The annual subscription price will rise from US$249.99 to US$356 per year.
  • The monthly subscription price will rise from US$24.99 to US$35.60 per month.
  • The 24-hour subscription will no longer be offered.
  • The embargo period for free content will change from two weeks to four weeks.
Remember, if you subscribe now, you will be grandfathered at the old price - permanently.

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