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Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for March 2024 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for March 2024 (Final)
1st ETF 2nd ETF 3rd ETF

Bonds

Bonds have two price components, yield and response of price to prevailing interest rates. How much of a return premium should investors in bonds expect? How can investors enhance this premium? These blog entries examine investing in bonds.

Treasury Yields and Inflation Lead-lag

Which comes first, adjustments in U.S. Treasuries yields across the term structure, or government announcement of new U.S. inflation data? To investigate, we relate monthly changes in yields for 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, 7-year, 10-year, 20-year and 30-year U.S. Treasuries (GS1 through GS30) to monthly change in overall raw Consumer Price Index (CPI) for various leads and lags. Using monthly yields (average daily yields during a month) for Treasuries as available and monthly CPI during April 1953 through December 2023, we find that:

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FFR Actions, Stock Market Returns and Bond Yields

Do Federal Funds Rate (FFR) actions taken by the Federal Reserve open market operations committee reliably predict stock market and U.S. Treasuries yield reactions? To investigate, we use the S&P 500 Index (SP500) as a proxy for the stock market and the yield for the 10-Year U.S. Constant Maturity Treasury note (T-note). We look at index returns and changes in T-note yield during the one and two months after FFR actions, separately for FFR increases and FFR decreases. Using data for the three series during January 1990 through December 2023, we find that:

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Ziemba Party Holding Presidency Strategy Update

“Exploiting the Presidential Cycle and Party in Power” summarizes strategies that hold small stocks (large stock or bonds) when Democrats (Republicans) hold the U.S. presidency. How has this strategy performed in recent years? To investigate, we consider three strategy alternatives using exchange-traded funds (ETF):

  1. D-IWM:R-SPY: hold iShares Russell 2000 (IWM) when Democrats hold the presidency and SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) when Republicans hold it.
  2. D-IWM:R-LQD: hold IWM when Democrats hold the presidency and iShares iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD) when Republicans hold it.
  3. D-IWM:R-IEF: hold IWM when Democrats hold the presidency and iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF) when Republicans hold it.

We use calendar years to determine party holding the presidency. As benchmarks, we consider buying and holding each of SPY, IWM, LQD or IEF and annually rebalanced portfolios of 60% SPY and 40% LQD (60 SPY-40 LQD) or 60% SPY and 40% IEF (60 SPY-40 IEF). We consider as performance metrics: average annual excess return (relative to the yield on 1-year U.S. Treasury notes at the beginning of each year); standard deviation of annual excess returns; annual Sharpe ratio; compound annual growth rate (CAGR); and, maximum annual drawdown (annual MaxDD). We assume portfolio switching/rebalancing frictions are negligible. Except for CAGR, computations are for full calendar years only. Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the specified ETFs during July 2002 (limited by LQD and IEF) through December 2023, we find that:

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Volatility-adjusted Retirement Income Streams

Should investors consider portfolio volatility when choosing allocations to stocks and bonds in their retirement accounts? In his October 2023 paper entitled “Retirement Planning: The Volatility-Adjusted Coverage Ratio”, Javier Estrada introduces volatility-adjusted coverage ratio (VAC) as an alternative retirement portfolio metric. He defines this metric as coverage ratio (C, number of years of withdrawals supported relative to retirement period length) divided by annual portfolio volatility during retirement. He compares optimal stocks-bonds allocations for different fixed real annual withdrawal rates across 22 country markets and the world market using either C of VAC. For all markets and withdrawal rates, he uses historical returns for stocks and bonds with annual portfolio rebalancing and 30-year retirement periods. Using annual returns for stocks and bonds and annual inflation rates in the U.S. during 1872 through 2022 (Shiller data) and in 21 other countries during 1900 through 2019 (Dimson-Marsh-Staunton data), he finds that: Keep Reading

How Are TIPS ETFs Doing?

How do exchange-traded-funds (ETF) focused on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) perform? To investigate, we consider ten of the largest TIP ETFs, all currently available, as follows:

As benchmarks, we consider iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY), iShares 3-7 Year Treasury Bond (IEI), iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF) and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT). To match duration of each TIPS ETF, we assign the one of these four benchmarks with the highest correlation of monthly returns. We focus on monthly return statistics, along with compound annual growth rates (CAGR) and maximum drawdowns (MaxDD). Using monthly returns for the 10 TIPS ETFs and the four benchmark ETFs as available, and concurrent monthly changes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI), through October 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

All Stocks All the Time?

Is the the conventional retirement portfolio glidepath as recommended by many financial advisors, away from stocks and toward bonds over time, really optimal? In their October 2023 paper entitled “Beyond the Status Quo: A Critical Assessment of Lifecycle Investment Advice”, Aizhan Anarkulova, Scott Cederburg and Michael O’Doherty present a lifecycle income/wealth model using stationary block bootstrap simulations (average block length 120 months to preserve long-term behaviors) with labor income uncertainty, Social Security income, longevity uncertainty and historical monthly returns for stock indexes, government bonds and government bills across developed countries. They apply this model to estimate outcomes for several age-dependent, monthly rebalanced portfolios of stocks and bonds, including a representative target-date fund (TDF), as well as some fixed-percentage allocation strategies. They focus on a U.S. couple (a female and a male) who save during working years starting at age 25 and consume Social Security income and savings starting at age 65 with constant real 4% annual withdrawals. They evaluate four outcomes: (1) wealth at retirement; (2) retirement income; (3) conservation of savings; and, (4) bequest at death. Using monthly (local) real returns for domestic stock indexes, international stock indexes, government bonds and government bills as available for 38 developed countries during 1890 through 2019, they find that:

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Simple Term Structure ETF/Mutual Fund Momentum Strategy

Does a simple relative momentum strategy applied to tradable U.S. Treasury term structure proxies produce attractive results by picking the best duration for exploiting the current interest rate trend? To investigate, we run short-term and long-term tests. The short-term test employs five exchange-traded funds (ETF) to represent the term structure:

SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill (BIL)
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
iShares Barclays 3-7 Year Treasury Bond (IEI)
iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF)
iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)

The second test employs three Vanguard mutual funds to represent the term structure:

Vanguard Short-Term Treasury Fund (VFISX)
Vanguard Intermediate-Term Treasury Fund (VFITX)
Vanguard Long-Term Treasury Fund (VUSTX)

For each test, we allocate all funds at the end of each month to the fund with the highest total return over a specified ranking (lookback) interval, ranging from one month to 12 months. To accommodate the longest lookback interval, portfolio formation commences 12 months after the start of the sample. We focus on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) as key performance metrics. Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for BIL since May 2007, for IEI since January 2007, for SHY, IEF and TLT since July 2002 and for VFISX, VFITX and VUSTX since October 1991, all through September 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Are Target Retirement Date Funds Attractive?

Do target retirement date funds, offering glidepaths that shift asset allocations away from equities and toward bonds as target dates approach, safely generate attractive returns? To investigate, we consider seven such mutual funds offered by Vanguard, as follows:

We consider as benchmarks SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) and both 80-20 and 60-40 monthly rebalanced SPY-LQD combinations. We look at monthly and annual return statistics, including compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD). Using monthly total returns for SPY, LQD, three target retirement date funds since October 2003 and four target retirement date funds since June 2006 (limited by Vanguard inception dates), all through September 2023, we find that:

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SACEVS Input Risk Premiums and EFFR

The “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS) seeks diversification across a small set of asset class exchanged-traded funds (ETF), plus a monthly tactical edge from potential undervaluation of three risk premiums:

  1. Term – monthly difference between the 10-year Constant Maturity U.S. Treasury note (T-note) yield and the 3-month Constant Maturity U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield.
  2. Credit – monthly difference between the Moody’s Seasoned Baa Corporate Bonds yield and the T-note yield.
  3. Equity – monthly difference between S&P 500 operating earnings yield and the T-note yield.

Premium valuations are relative to historical averages. How might this strategy react to changes in the Effective Federal Funds Rate (EFFR)? Using end-of-month values of the three risk premiums, EFFRtotal 12-month U.S. inflation and core 12-month U.S. inflation during March 1989 (limited by availability of operating earnings data) through September 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

SACEVS-SACEMS for Value-Momentum Diversification

Are the “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS) and the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS) mutually diversifying. To check, based on feedback from subscribers about combinations of interest, we look at three equal-weighted (50-50) combinations of the two strategies, rebalanced monthly:

  1. 50-50 Best Value – EW Top 2: SACEVS Best Value paired with SACEMS Equally Weighted (EW) Top 2 (aggressive value and somewhat aggressive momentum).
  2. 50-50 Best Value – EW Top 3: SACEVS Best Value paired with SACEMS EW Top 3 (aggressive value and diversified momentum).
  3. 50-50 Weighted – EW Top 3: SACEVS Weighted paired with SACEMS EW Top 3 (diversified value and diversified momentum).

We consider as a benchmark a simple technical strategy (SPY:SMA10) that holds SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) when the S&P 500 Index is above its 10-month simple moving average and 3-month U.S. Treasury bills (Cash, or T-bills) when below. We also test sensitivity of results to deviating from equal SACEVS-SACEMS weights. Using monthly gross returns for SACEVS, SACEMS, SPY and T-bills during July 2006 through July 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

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