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Views on timing the market
7upfree
Posted: 04 June 2018 14:44:20(UTC)
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I realise that the broad consensus position is that timing the market is a fool's errand. However, while looking at the SWR issue, I came across a reasonable body of work that suggests you end up with the market return with much lower drawdowns when following a simple 200 day MA strategy. As far as I can tell, it really only assists where you are looking at a 1930s\1973-74\2008 situation. However, for many of us, that is a big issue - especially in the run up to retirement. Strategically buying a "put" (the ideal hedge) is not really a cost effective strategy as many studies have shown. Now in an ideal world you might say buy 50/50 stocks and bonds and the pain is somewhat dulled in the event of a catastrophe. In the present climate, who would willingly be long on bonds to that extent of their portfolio? Staying in cash would be an option but long term that sounds like a risky business unless there is serious deflation on the way. Having had a hand in drafting some of the infrastructure contracts that are being used as a bond proxy in some funds, I am afraid that I simply don't see them in that way (!)

If I thought I could capture 2/3 of the average market return with a much smaller drawdown risk, I might be inclined to give some thought to this as a strategy. I am still 20 years away from retirement, but that was little consolation to an investor in Japan, c.1989! If I could retire with what I have today (adjusted for inflation), I would not be dissapointed. A first world problem, I accept, but a problem nevertheless. Our views of "buy and hold" are informed with reference to the success of the US and UK markets in the last 100 years. It is simply too narrow sighted an approach in my view.

So there you have it: 200 day MA as a sort of bond proxy. Thoughts welcome as ever.

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Mr Helpful on 04/06/2018(UTC)
Mr Helpful
Posted: 04 June 2018 15:00:47(UTC)
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How would the 200 day mavg be used?
All in or all out?
Chris Dillow of Investors' Chronicle mentions similar from time to time.
Worth reflecting on as a defensive measure.

Not averse to using valuation-driven Variable Ratio Asset Allocations (with in-built delaying process) v the more common 'strategic' Constant Ratio.

Comments re Infrastructure could maybe be expanded one day perhaps in a dedicated thread?
Infrastructure has yet to be seriously tested as a defensive?
P.S. Quick look at 2008 not unduly promising.
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7upfree on 04/06/2018(UTC)
7upfree
Posted: 04 June 2018 15:29:21(UTC)
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I will post what I have on 200 day MA shortly. From what I have read, it seemed to be quite effective in 2008 for the S&P at least. I have seen a number of variants e.g. must be 5% under the MA or close below it for xx days. I liked it because it is simple and not a nightmare to monitor. I have looked at CAPE in the past, but it is also not without its limitations (and indeed the availability of a reasonable alternative to park the money in during times of stress). A trend following system will protect you from a calamity. Protecting what you have becomes more concerning as you grow older (and wiser?) and with the realisation that no one really knows what is coming next. In the present market, save for investing in National Savings, I am unconvinced that a sensible asset allocation is a panacea for all ills. We are deep in unchartered territory in the midst of the biggest monetary experiment that that has ever been attempted. None of the Central Bankers have any real idea what the long term effects will be; their independence from the politicians is simply non-existent. The political class have quickly become addicted to borrowing at near zero interest rates while maintaining the status quo. Maybe it can go on forever, but in that eventuality, I am not entirely certain that a long equity\bond position is the answer.

Re infrastructure, I will happily do so. Most financiers and governments had (have) no real understanding of risk allocation under these agreements. All of the easy money has been had in my view. For the lawyers, there was no real template or precedent to follow when they were drafted. Some contracts are better than others... Take a ridiculous example. Imagine under an FM cleaning contract there was a division of responsibility for paying for certain "spillages". Human = trust; non human = SPV. To get paid you had to work out the genesis of the spillage... Of course, such a ridiculous example could never be true...
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Keith Cobby
Posted: 04 June 2018 16:47:22(UTC)
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You can't time the markets and, if the 200 day MA worked, we would all be using it.
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Mr Helpful
Posted: 04 June 2018 18:04:15(UTC)
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Keith Cobby;63378 wrote:
You can't time the markets and, if the 200 day MA worked, we would all be using it.

If we were all using it, it would work !!! ???
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Keith Cobby on 04/06/2018(UTC)
King Lodos
Posted: 04 June 2018 18:12:15(UTC)
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Mr Helpful;63389 wrote:
Keith Cobby;63378 wrote:
You can't time the markets and, if the 200 day MA worked, we would all be using it.

If we were all using it, it would work !!! ???


There are always as many shares being sold at the top of the market as there are being bought – likewise the bottom.

So what happens when more ppl follow the same timing model is the timing gets tighter .. If everyone sold on the 200 day, you'd wind up with square wave liquidity crashes.

This is pretty much what the 1987 crash was about – too many funds using the same stop losses .. There are no winners in that (apart from the guy who uses the 199 day moving average)

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King Lodos
Posted: 04 June 2018 18:13:35(UTC)
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You can test 200 Day moving average timing on Portfolio Visualizer.

Posting the screenshot here, as it'll mess the screen size up – here I'm using 10 Month moving average and SPY (US market index)

https://www.portfoliovisualizer.com/test-market-timing-model

https://i.imgur.com/9UIpEHi.png
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King Lodos
Posted: 04 June 2018 18:22:17(UTC)
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The problem with this is how badly it works on the FTSE 100.

What you're really reliant on is trending behaviour in markets .. and if a market doesn't trend as cleanly as the S&P 500 (which could be caused by nothing more than NOT being in dollars), you can get false signals.

And the enemy of market timing systems like this is 'whipsawing' .. Which is when you buy and sell at just the wrong points, and lose on consecutive trades .. it can destroy an investment quite quickly – and it's very hard to stick with a trading system that loses over a year or two.


So 200 day moving average seems to work best in dollars, because it's a more reliable technical signal for dollar investors .. In GBP, it's haphazard.

There are tactics to avoid whipsawing – e.g. buying and selling in 10% chunks, maybe spread over several weeks or months .. But you HAVE to backtest – and you really need better tools than Portfolio Visualizer.

Trend following is probably the most competitive space in trading .. There are thousands of Managed Futures and Hedge Funds doing simple, computer-controlled MA-based trend following strategies, and not many winners .. I find relative strength style strategies work much better with funds and ETFs – you really don't want to be jumping in and out of the market
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7upfree on 04/06/2018(UTC), Law Man on 05/06/2018(UTC)
7upfree
Posted: 04 June 2018 20:23:58(UTC)
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I think you have to define "winning" in context. For me, lower volatility with some growth is all that I am after. I would typically be a 60/40 or 50/50 investor with stocks and bonds respectively. I'm not convinced that history will repeat in this context. For me it's a choice between a 90/10 stock- bond trend model or a 50/50 equity NSI buy and hold. There is just too much risk of a positive correlation between stocks and bonds in the future to stick with the tried and tested.

I actually thought the FTSE 100 looked okish on this graph with a 200 day MA:

https://yhoo.it/2kMpmSQ

The Meb Faber research looked quite interesting on 200 day MA. The big risk for a trend system like this is a flash crash and rebound where you end up out of the market well below your stop loss and not re-entering until much later when the price has retraced.

I am probably overthinking everything and looking for an edge that just does not exist. Maybe 50/50 is as good as it gets at present. I would love to have the nerve to dump 90% in the market and just hold on for the next 20 years but I've worked too hard for what I have to be frivilous. Maybe a compromise is 50% world equity; 25% active defensive e.g. PNL and contemporaries and 25% cash.
King Lodos
Posted: 04 June 2018 21:52:56(UTC)
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7upfree;63400 wrote:
I think you have to define "winning" in context. For me, lower volatility with some growth is all that I am after. I would typically be a 60/40 or 50/50 investor with stocks and bonds respectively. I'm not convinced that history will repeat in this context. For me it's a choice between a 90/10 stock- bond trend model or a 50/50 equity NSI buy and hold. There is just too much risk of a positive correlation between stocks and bonds in the future to stick with the tried and tested.

I actually thought the FTSE 100 looked okish on this graph with a 200 day MA:

https://yhoo.it/2kMpmSQ

The Meb Faber research looked quite interesting on 200 day MA. The big risk for a trend system like this is a flash crash and rebound where you end up out of the market well below your stop loss and not re-entering until much later when the price has retraced.

I am probably overthinking everything and looking for an edge that just does not exist. Maybe 50/50 is as good as it gets at present. I would love to have the nerve to dump 90% in the market and just hold on for the next 20 years but I've worked too hard for what I have to be frivilous. Maybe a compromise is 50% world equity; 25% active defensive e.g. PNL and contemporaries and 25% cash.


I couldn't actually get any use out of that graph .. 200 MA isn't necessarily set to 'Day' – it depends on the scale you're looking at .. and I can't work out quite how it's doing it .. You notice on 5Y it gives you different results to 1Y? Either way it doesn't go long enough with 200 day timing (afaict).

Meb Faber's really interesting with his research and views .. However, his own track record with the Cambria funds could be a cautionary tale on the risks of backfitting .. He's someone who's been calling the US market overvalued for years, and has created a bunch of ETFs that so far underperform (which is worse than monkeys – suggesting negative alpha; suggesting dumb trades .. it's a harsh, unforgiving game).

His Trinity Portfolio would suit you well (1/3rd stocks, 1/3rd managed futures, 1/3rd bonds), but who knows if managed futures still works? .. Meb will take 30 years of data and think that's reliable .. Personally, with trading strategies, I think the past 2 years can be more important, because some strategies just stop working.


Timing is perfectly possible – as much as I aspire to be, I'm not much of a buy-and-hold investor .. But you need to understand exactly how and why timing works; why it wouldn't work on random series; what you're actually doing by saying 'At this point, stocks are more likely to go down than recover', who's on the other end of each trade, and why they're wrong .. Why markets might trend.

One compromise is to have half your stock portfolio buy-and-hold, and half only invested when the market's trending up (or at least not down) .. You could be 75% invested when everything's above the MAs .. 50% invested when it drops below the 150 day .. maybe 25% invested when it's below the 300 day ..? And then buy when stocks drop much more than that – maintain at least 25% in the market.

You definitely want to avoid whipsawing – don't ever go all-in or all-out, because that's a bet that you're 100% right or 100% wrong .. and we never are .. Any system that lets you make manageable, incremental decisions, that you can reverse without much pain, and understand properly, is a lot safer.

And flash crashes are rarely problems – they've always corrected quickly .. Don't try to catch them .. If the market plummets in 2 days, just hold tight or buy .. Ride those out .. The only trend you can trade (realistically) is the long-term trend – that's why stop losses can be dangerous .. It's whipsawing that'll get you, and that's why you want to make incremental decisions, which compound in terms of being right or wrong .. But Warren Buffett's done just fine without timing – you're probably better off holding a nice big chunk of cash, and buying when there are opportunities .. And nothing wrong with individual government bonds, held to maturity .. US 10 yrs are peaking over 3% now, those would be fine to hold; no need to trade




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Mr Helpful
Posted: 05 June 2018 09:51:30(UTC)
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King Lodos;63405 wrote:
. And nothing wrong with individual government bonds, held to maturity .. US 10 yrs are peaking over 3% now, those would be fine to hold; no need to trade

But might those 10 year Treasuries need to be sold before maturity at a loss, to fund bargain Stock purchases on a slump?
Losses would be minor compared to potential Stock losses, something the investor could live with.?

Any views on trend?
See :-
http://www.multpl.com/10-year-treasury-rate

Also thinking about moving duration out on Treasuries away from short-term, but hesitating, then hesitating again.
An inflection point seems to be anchored.
Trend now maybe a headwind?
e.g. VUTY (duration 6 years) : 4.4% US$ loss in just over six months.

Back on topic; would prefer to see mavg methods combined in some way with valuation measure(s), to confirm logic.
King Lodos
Posted: 05 June 2018 17:36:50(UTC)
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Mr Helpful;63414 wrote:
But might those 10 year Treasuries need to be sold before maturity at a loss, to fund bargain Stock purchases on a slump?
Losses would be minor compared to potential Stock losses, something the investor could live with.?

Any views on trend?
See :-
http://www.multpl.com/10-year-treasury-rate

Also thinking about moving duration out on Treasuries away from short-term, but hesitating, then hesitating again.
An inflection point seems to be anchored.
Trend now maybe a headwind?
e.g. VUTY (duration 6 years) : 4.4% US$ loss in just over six months.

Back on topic; would prefer to see mavg methods combined in some way with valuation measure(s), to confirm logic.


If you look at the way Buffett does it, the bond portfolio really is a separate portfolio.

So there'd be times when it makes sense to sell stocks and buy bonds – e.g. the tech boom – or vice versa – recent years – but it's cash he's got on hand to buy stocks .. I think being forced to sell a bond on a loss would be bad planning.

The Treasuries comment – it's more market commentary .. We're still thinking of bonds as unbelievably expensive, but as you can see there, we're not far from the average yield now .. I'm not sure *I'd* buy Treasuries yet, because currency's likely to be a bigger factor – NS&I bonds, and a little RateSetter, can get you a pretty safe 3% I think without having to worry about duration.


The only trend I trade is the long-term trend – inflection points are coin tosses imo ..

I've always envisaged bonds would take quite a sideways path to normalisation, so once they represent good value vs equities, there'll be a lot of upward pressure as people pile back into them .. But maybe not while the US economy's booming .. First signs of earnings being revised down and I'd guess people pile into bonds yielding over 3% .. Which would mean the old inverse relationship with stocks reappears .. I think the only reason it didn't reappear this year was that it was a technical correction in stocks


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Dian
Posted: 07 June 2018 08:39:12(UTC)
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In my view success is depending on the selection of a quality investment after doing careful study rather than timing the market. Market timing could miss some great opportunities as well. Successful traders, value investors and other types of investors and traders have their own criteria or strategy to pick stocks. I prefer long term strong balance sheet firms. Rather than timing the market buying quality companies when they are out of favour is one approach which follow some savvy investors. For example, I picked one company after doing more than 5 years study when it was out of favour in the fast at an attractive price and added later more and will not regret keeping it for a considerable period. Rather than timing the market I prefer to spend some time to study the business that I like. For my safety I try to estimate cash flow and growth at least for 5 to 10 year time horizon.

Shake ups and shake outs in stock market create some excellent opportunities. I would like to follow current quality underperformers in the market. Markets players mainly create demand on the basis of short term analysis such as what is happening this week, this quarter and next quarter and next year. They forget to analyze bigger picture, type of business, mid and long term outlook.
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7upfree
Posted: 11 June 2018 14:19:32(UTC)
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Ok, so I have revisted the option strategy again. Assuming you wanted to protect against catastrophic falls only, I can pick up a FTSE 100 June 19 Put with a strikeprice of 5000 for 0.63%. Most Puts expire out of the money and you need to keep an eye on decay, but at those levels I might just give this some further thought.
7upfree
Posted: 12 June 2018 12:30:16(UTC)
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I ran the 200 day MA system based on a month end buy or sell signal (per Faber). I have yet to undertake the opportunity cost analysis of time out of the market invested in cash. Equally this is the nominal FTSE 100 data, not the total return index data. No consideration is made for spreads or taxes.

From 31/1/1989 to date there have been 53 signals.

From the 26 buy to sell signals, the following conclusions might be drawn:-

12/26 generated a positive return

14/26 generated a negative return

The average return was 208 points.The average percentage gain was 5.61%

The largest drawdown was 9.64%

The largest gain was 67.33%

The distribution of returns does not follow a bell curve. Almost all of the gains are accounted for by two trades between 1995 and 1998 and separately between 2004 and 2007.

The total points accumulated from all trades - 5412. Starting position of FTSE 100 - 2051. Total - 7463.

If we focus on the last 20 years or so when the FTSE has genuinely moved sideways (30th November 1998 - FTSE stands at 5743), the returns are quite interesting.

The total return was 3364 points. Added to the FTSE starting position of 5743, this brings out a total of 9107. Returns were slightly more evenly distributed. The largest drawdown was 9.64%. The largest gain was 39.31%.

Conversely, in the period between 1989 to 30th November 2008 (when the market was clearly trending upwards), buy and hold generated a superior return.

This is being done manually and I need to write a piece of excel code just to ensure it is correct. It is too early to draw meaningful conclusions but it seems to me that the MA system is worthy of further investigation. I am reluctant to conclude that the system performs better in sideways trending markets having regard to the size of the sample. I have little doubt that in a sideways trending market that excluded a 9/11 and 2008 crisis, buy and hold would likely generate a better return.
King Lodos
Posted: 12 June 2018 13:30:51(UTC)
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Well MA strategies like that were first being investigated around the time punchcard computers were available in college research depts.

Ed Seykota was one of the pioneers, and he's still involved – but strategies have had to evolve a lot over time .. What Meb Faber gets wrong is considering data 20 years ago as important as today .. as if markets don't cotton on to trading strategies all the time.

Here's an actually really useful song Seykota did on the principles of trend trading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiE1VgWdcQM


PS – you're probably best trend trading and backtesting Accumulation (or total return) ETFs, as otherwise you miss dividends, and the effects of compounding those returns.

PPS – seriously the jumping all in and out of the market strategy will cause you problems .. It's like entering a BMX competition when you haven't learnt how to ride without stabilisers .. Moving averages are meaningless – all you're really doing is working out whether something's going up or down .. There's no magic in MA timing .. I find anything BUT MAs works better
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King Lodos
Posted: 12 June 2018 13:39:48(UTC)
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Also, PS: if you are interested, modern trend following strategies overcome some of the problem in whipsawing in non-trending or volatile markets by adding a Volatility metric.

More volatility = smaller positions

You *can* do this in Excel using a Standard Deviation calculation over a fixed period .. But it's probably easier to learn Python by that point
7upfree
Posted: 12 June 2018 13:43:19(UTC)
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I have struggled to find accumulation data for more than 10 years, otherwise, that would have been my first port of call.

As it happens, I have just found an accumulation ETF on portfolio visualiser (EWU) which covers I think the FTSE 350 from 1996 onwards. It is priced in dollars and I don't think it is hedged.

Anyway, the data seems to suggest that using a Faber strategy on the FTSE 350 produces a slightly higher return than Buy and Hold (CAGR 4.99 v 3.87) with lower drawdowns. So far so good.

However, if I change the criteria to trade at the signal (rather than the month end), the results are virtually identical. So far from the moving average being the cause of the outcome, it is the random nature of the month end timing element that is generating the return. I fear that I am making a science out of nonsense as a result!

Back to the drawing board for me...

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King Lodos on 12/06/2018(UTC)
7upfree
Posted: 12 June 2018 13:47:44(UTC)
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King Lodos;63753 wrote:
Also, PS: if you are interested, modern trend following strategies overcome some of the problem in whipsawing in non-trending or volatile markets by adding a Volatility metric.

More volatility = smaller positions

You *can* do this in Excel using a Standard Deviation calculation over a fixed period .. But it's probably easier to learn Python by that point


Thanks - always interesting chat as ever, KL. I think I am just going to stick with 60 (worldwide equities)/40 (cash) on a buy and hold basis. I will convert some of the cash to bonds as and when there is any normalisation in the market. If the world index collapses then I suspect that worrying about our investments will be the least of our concern...
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King Lodos on 12/06/2018(UTC)
Jeff Liddiard
Posted: 12 June 2018 13:54:20(UTC)
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King Lodos;63752 wrote:
Well MA strategies like that were first being investigated around the time punchcard computers were available in college research depts.

Ed Seykota was one of the pioneers, and he's still involved – but strategies have had to evolve a lot over time .. What Meb Faber gets wrong is considering data 20 years ago as important as today .. as if markets don't cotton on to trading strategies all the time.

Here's an actually really useful song Seykota did on the principles of trend trading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiE1VgWdcQM


PS – you're probably best trend trading and backtesting Accumulation (or total return) ETFs, as otherwise you miss dividends, and the effects of compounding those returns.

PPS – seriously the jumping all in and out of the market strategy will cause you problems .. It's like entering a BMX competition when you haven't learnt how to ride without stabilisers .. Moving averages are meaningless – all you're really doing is working out whether something's going up or down .. There's no magic in MA timing .. I find anything BUT MAs works better


Nice Bluegrass diversion!
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King Lodos on 12/06/2018(UTC)
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