Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for February 2024 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

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

Currency Trading

Currency trading (forex or FX) offers investors a way to trade on country or regional fiscal/monetary situations and tendencies. Are there reliable ways to exploit this market? Does it represent a distinct asset class?

Are Managed Futures ETFs Working?

Are managed futures, as implemented by exchange-traded funds (ETF), attractive? To investigate, we consider five managed futures ETFs, four live and one dead:

  1. WisdomTree Managed Futures Strategy (WTMF) – seeks positive total returns in rising or falling markets that are uncorrelated with broad market equity and fixed income returns via diversified combination of commodities, currencies and interest rates futures.
  2. First Trust Morningstar Managed Futures Strategy (FMF) – seeks positive returns that are uncorrelated to broad market equity and fixed income returns via a portfolio of exchange-listed futures.
  3. ProShares Managed Futures Strategy (FUT) – seeks to profit in rising and falling markets by long and short positions in futures across asset classes such as commodities, currencies and fixed income such that each contributes equally to portfolio risk. This fund is dead as of May 2022.
  4. iM DBi Managed Futures Strategy (DBMF) – seeks long-term capital appreciation via long and short positions in futures across the asset classes such as equities, fixed income, currencies and commodities. Fund positions approximate the current asset allocation of a pool of the largest commodity trading advisor hedge funds.
  5. Simplify Managed Futures Strategy (CTA) – seeks long term capital appreciation by systematically investing in futures in an attempt to create an absolute return profile, that also has a low correlation to equities, and can provide support in risk-off events.

We focus on average return, standard deviation of returns, reward/risk (average return divided by standard deviation), compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown (MaxDD) and correlations of returns with those of SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) and iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT), all based on monthly data, as key performance statistics. We use Eurekahedge CTA/Managed Futures Hedge Fund Index (Eurekahedge) as a benchmark. Using monthly returns for the five managed futures funds as available through August 2023, and contemporaneous monthly returns for the benchmark index, SPY and TLT, we find that:

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Asset Class ETF Interactions with the Euro

How do different asset classes interact with euro-U.S. dollar exchange rate? To investigate, we consider relationships between Invesco CurrencyShares Euro Currency (FXE) and the exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies used in the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) or the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) at a monthly measurement frequency. Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for FXE and the asset class proxies since February 2006 as available through August 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Asset Class ETF Interactions with the U.S. Dollar

How do different asset classes interact with U.S. dollar valuation? To investigate, we consider relationships between Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP) and the exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies used in the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) or the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) at a monthly measurement frequency. Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for UUP and the asset class proxies since March 2007 as available through August 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Bitcoin Trend Predicts U.S. Stock Market Return?

A subscriber asked about an assertion that bitcoin (BTC) price trend/return predicts return of the S&P 500 Index (SP500). To investigate, we relate BTC returns to SP500 returns at daily, weekly and monthly frequencies. We rationalize the different trading schedules for these two series by excluding BTC trading dates that are not also SP500 trading days. Most results are conceptual, but we test three versions of an SP500 timing strategy based on prior BTC returns focused on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD). Using daily SP500 levels and (pruned) BTC prices during 9/17/2014 (limited by the BTC series) through 12/21/2022, we find that:

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U.S. Dollar Seasonal Strength/Weakness and Stock Market Returns

A subscriber asked whether currency exchange rates exhibit reliable seasonality that may be used to time equities (with a stronger currency implying lower asset prices). To investigate, we look for reliable calendar month effects for the U.S. dollar (USD)-euro exchange rate and for Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP). We further look at how monthly returns for these variables relate to those for SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) as a proxy for the U.S. stock market. Using monthly data for the USD-euro exchange rate since January 1999 and for UUP since March 2007, and corresponding data for SPY, all through November 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Optimal Bitcoin Allocations

Do formal asset allocation methods specify a portfolio allocation to bitcoin (BTC)? In his September 2022 paper entitled “Optimal Allocation to Cryptocurrencies in Diversified Portfolios”, Artur Sepp applies four quantitative methods to estimate optimal allocations to bitcoin within systematically rebalanced portfolios. He considers: two risk-only methods based on either equal risk contribution or maximum diversification; and, two risk-return methods based on either maximum Sharpe ratio or maximum constant absolute risk aversion utility. For each method, he develops allocations for four portfolios:

  1. 100% alternatives without BTC (consisting of HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index, SG Macro Trading Index, SG CTA Index and GLD).
  2. 100% alternatives with BTC.
  3. 75%/25% conventional assets/alternatives without BTC, with 75% allocation to the 60/40 stocks/bonds iShares Core Growth ETF (AOR) fund and 25% allocation to non-BTC alternatives.
  4. 75%/25% conventional assets/alternatives with BTC.

He rebalances each portfolio quarterly employing the most recent five years of monthly return inputs to calculate allocations. Since the BTC series starts in July 2010, initial allocation estimates are for June 2015. Using monthly return data for all assets during July 2010 through August 2022, he finds that:

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Simple Currency ETF Momentum Strategy

Do exchange-traded funds (ETF) that track major currencies support a relative momentum strategy? To investigate, we consider the following four ETFs:

Invesco DB US Dollar Bullish (UUP)
Invesco CurrencyShares Euro Currency (FXE)
Invesco CurrencyShares Japanese Yen (FXY)
WisdomTree Chinese Yuan Strategy (CYB)

We each month rank these ETFs based on past return over lookback intervals ranging from one to 12 months. We consider portfolios of past winners reformed monthly based on Top 1 and on equal-weighted (EW) Top 2 and Top 3 ETFs. The benchmark portfolio is the equally weighted combination of all four ETFs. We present findings in formats similar to those used for the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy and the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy. Using monthly adjusted closing prices for the currency ETFs during March 2007 (when three become available) through August 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Currency Crashes and Future Stock Market Returns

A subscriber asked whether a rapid, large (20% or more) individual country currency devaluation versus the U.S. dollar indicates that the country’s stock market will rise the next quarter (with country exports presumably more competitive post-devaluation). To investigate, we select five currency exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar and relate monthly and quarterly changes in these rates to next-month and next-quarter total returns in U.S. dollars on exchange-traded funds (ETF) for respective country stock markets, as follows:

  1. Malaysia: Ringgit to U.S. Dollar and iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF (EWM).
  2. South Korea: Won to U.S. Dollar and iShares MSCI South Korea ETF (EWY).
  3. Brazil: Real to U.S. Dollar and iShares MSCI Brazil ETF (EWZ).
  4. China: Yuan Renminbi to U.S. Dollar and SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC).
  5. India: Rupee to U.S. Dollar and iShares India 50 ETF (INDY).

We consider both linear relationships and outlier relationships (> 20% devaluations). Using monthly and quarterly changes/dividend-adjusted returns for the selected currency/equity ETF pairs as available (all limited by ETF histories) through June 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Turn-of-the-Month Effect for Currencies?

A subscriber asked whether the Turn-of-the-Month (TOTM) effect applies to currencies. To investigate, as in the past, we define TOTM as the interval from the close five trading days before to the close four trading days after the last trading day of the month (a total of eight trading days, centered on the monthly close). We measure TOTM returns for the following four exchange-traded funds (ETF):

Invesco DB US Dollar Bullish (UUP)
Invesco CurrencyShares Euro Currency (FXE)
Invesco CurrencyShares Japanese Yen (FXY)
WisdomTree Chinese Yuan Strategy (CYB)

Using daily dividend-adjusted prices for these ETFs from their respective inceptions through mid-June 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Crypto Investing Guide

What information is key to investing in crypto-assets? In their May 2022 paper entitled “An Investor’s Guide to Crypto”, Campbell Harvey, Tarek Abou Zeid, Teun Draaisma, Martin Luk, Henry Neville, Andre Rzym and Otto Van Hemert offer insights for investors seeking exposure to crypto-assets. They discuss a variety of tokens, highlighting their functionality and investment properties. They critically compare popular crypto-asset valuation methods. They contrast buy-and-hold investing with volatility-managed and trend-following strategies. They focus on return data starting 2017 as representative of the future, using some intraday data to boost statistical power. They describe custody and regulatory considerations for institutional investors. Using crypto-asset and contemporaneous conventional asset data as available (as early as 2010) through April 2022, they find that:

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