Hedge fund performance was dominated by the exposure to market risk as those fundamental equity funds that held more market risk dominated style performance. However, the average returns mask the large dispersion across styles. We still use indices for analysis because it does provide some information on what the average investor may expect. For example, while CTAs were down, on average, for the first quarter, anecdotal evidence from managers sending me reports show some up in the double digits for the first quarter. Winners made big money in the last quarter.
The only hedge fund sectors that made significant returns in December were global macro and systematic CTAs. These are the divergence strategies that are supposed to generate returns when there are market dislocations. Macro and systematic managers, through casting a wide net across asset classes and going both long and short, should find opportunities when there are significant dislocations. The remaining hedge fund strategies lost money, but significantly less than the exposure to market beta. It was not a successful month for most hedge funds, but it was not as bad as exposure to equity beta. However, long duration Treasuries proved to be a better hedge.
A large sell-offs in bonds both domestically and around the world, a strong US equity move, and a strong dollar trend that changed perceptions on currencies, did not create an environment where managed futures were able to generate positive returns. I don’t want to be accused of hindsight bias, but a review of price trends in bonds and the dollar going into the election suggested that post-election moves, while extended, were not inconsistent with longer-term trends. Still, an early review suggests that there have been some major winners in this space who will end the year with strong positive gains. Careful CTA manager selection has meant the difference between success and failure in 2016.
We have been meaning to write an in depth report on central bank policies for some time and the market responses to recent BoJ policy decisions as well as the Fed meeting and press conference this week have nudged us to make a start. Below are some initial thoughts on how good central banks are in their forecasts and where they may take us in the future. We don’t mean this to be a rant, but it’s hard to discuss central banking politely when they have been so ineffective, when they refuse to accept they have been incorrect and they refuse to fully acknowledge the full unintended consequences of their hugely experimental policies.
We know of very few commercial entities or traders that were positioned last month to reflect much possibility that soybean prices at CME might be far too low. Plenty of different explanations have been offered as to the source of last month’s abrupt price explosion of grains and oilseeds prices. These can be roughly divided into two groups, “game theorists” and “statistical analysts.”
Today we are profiling a CTA that is new to the IASG database: Sandpiper Asset Management. The Sandpiper Global Macro Program is a multi-strategy program employing systematic trend following and discretionary trading methods across 50 liquid futures markets. The Program produces returns across a wide range of economic cycles and exhibits a negligible correlation to other investable assets. Risk is managed […]
Bulls had something to cheer about to finish off last week’s trading in the Cattle markets after Thursday’s limit higher move followed by a $2-3 rally on Friday. However, the Friday afternoon USDA news was somewhat of a letdown, with the choice beef cutout coming in off $3.02 and the monthly COF (Cattle on Feed) […]
Crude oil bulls had a brilliant day on Thursday, with the oil complex posting strong gains. Brent crude finished at $64.83while WTI closed at $57.66. With the market sailing above the 100-day MA last week, a review of the continuation chart gives a perspective on what the bulls might be targeting in the longer term. […]
Success in trading is measured in terms of the growth of the account balance. A CTA is not expected to play God and call every twist and turn in the market correctly. Some professional and proven CTA systems are only correct 25-30% of the time and still consistently pull huge profits out of the markets. […]
CTAs are always looking for opportunities to provide their firms additional exposure. Since IASG compiles data within our database, we thought it was relevant to provide CTAs with more marketing power when trying to reach their investing audience. Starting later this month, IASG will provide CTAs with access to a badge for ranking in the categories that meet their trading program. These categories include: discretionary, systematic, agriculture, Trend Following, Stock Index. The rankings badges will be provide monthly to the CTA for using on their email signature, embedding in their website, or within their marketing literature. Users of the IASG database will also get access to these badges on the CTA pages located in the right sidebar of the program page.
As our marketing efforts gradually shift from focusing on individuals to institutions, we have been asked recently, more than once, to provide a theoretical framework for our investment philosophy and trading approach. Although our trading results continue to validate our strategy, we were more than happy to take on this challenge, go back to review the genesis of our ideas from over a decade ago and review why our methodology still stands to reason.
Markets did not do a whole lot for most of the month until the stocks and acreage report on the last trading day of the month/quarter. It was easy to get chopped around, and I did. I was having a hard time staying with any positions or ideas. New crop beans wouldn’t break and old […]
In the first three weeks of May the S&P’s trading range was extremely compressed at roughly 1% with the previous 13 weeks having been limited to a 5% range, representing a measure of suppressed volatility that has not been seen in 8 years. In addition, numerous volatility measures also moved to the lowest levels in years, as is the case with VIX, which fell below 11 last month, the lowest since February 2007. Entering the month of June the S&P broke above this narrow range and advanced in the first three weeks despite the turmoil in Iraq. The S&P has rallied in the last two months without a single daily gain or loss +/- 1%, a rarity as well, with a prior occurrence in 1995. Furthermore, the S&P finished in the top 25% of the daily trading range (the S&P point change from the previous day/ the S&P daily range) in the first 20 trading days of the month, which is an unusual occurrence, having been seen less than a dozen times in the past 55 years. This trend continued into month end, driving the 40 day average of the formula into the top 31% of the daily range. This has occurred just one other time going back 55 years, having last manifested in the middle of May, 1995. The present backdrop is different than in May 1995 as the S&P then traded sideways the previous year and experienced a 10% correction induced by the Federal Reserve raising rates.