The SocGen CTA index was essentially flat for the month which is not surprising given three major factors. One, we are in a global risk-on environment which generally is not attractive for trend-followers. It is not that there are no trends, but there were limited gains from diversification across asset classes relative to a risk-on portfolio. Two, there were few strong trends going into the beginning of the month. Given the usual time-frame for effective trend-following which is weeks not days, there has to be continuity of trends to have a good performance month. The strong gains in foreign markets may not have been given enough exposure to generate good portfolio returns. Three, the focus on financials especially fixed income and currencies by large managers was a drag on performance relative to equities and short commodities trends. Four, volatility is at extreme lows. We have looked at market volatility through the VIX index and current levels are above the 98th percentile for the lowest since 1990. Divergent strategies based on taking advantage of the spread in prices through time will be limited in their return potential in this type of environment.
The 12-month rolling return gap versus equities is significant, but the differential between managed futures and bonds or commodities is not at all out of the ordinary. The equity-centered environment has dominated portfolio performance.