Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for December 2022 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for December 2022 (Final)
1st ETF 2nd ETF 3rd ETF

Strategic Allocation

Is there a best way to select and weight asset classes for long-term diversification benefits? These blog entries address this strategic allocation question.

SACEVS Best Value + SACEMS EW Top 2?

A subscriber asked for a comparison of two 50%-50% monthly rebalanced combinations of Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) and Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) portfolios, as follows:

  1. 50-50 Best Value + EW Top 2: SACEVS Best Value plus SACEMS EW Top 2, employing a somewhat more aggressive momentum portfolio.
  2. 50-50 Best Value + EW Top 3: Best Value plus SACEMS equal-weighted (EW) Top 3, as tracked at “Combined Value-Momentum Strategy (SACEVS-SACEMS)”.

To investigate, we run the two combinations and compare cumulative performances and annual performance statistics. Using monthly SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 and EW Top 3 portfolio returns commencing July 2006 (limited by SACEMS), we find that: Keep Reading

Forcing SACEMS to Agree with SACEVS

A subscriber asked whether forcing the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) to agree with the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) when the latter assigns zero weight to stocks or government bonds improves the performance of the former. Specifically, the suggested change would force to Cash in SACEMS any allocation to SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) or iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) occurring when SACEVS allocates 0% to SPY or TLT, respectively. To investigate, we impose this additional condition on SACEMS and compare detailed monthly and annual performance statistics for this new version of SACEMS (New) to the original version (Base). Using monthly SACEVS allocations and monthly dividend-adjusted prices of the SACEMS universe ETFs during February 2006 through July 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Safe Haven Benchmark Index

How should investors evaluate the effectiveness of a safe haven asset? In their July 2020 paper entitled “A Safe Haven Index”, Dirk Baur and Thomas Dimpfl devise and apply a safe haven index (SHI) to evaluate over 20 individual potential safe haven assets. SHI consists of seven equal-weighted assets: gold, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, 2-year, 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasuries and 10-year German government bonds. For evaluations, they focus on four safe haven events: the October 1987 stock market crash, the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the September 2008 Lehman collapse and the March 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Using daily data for index components and other potential safe haven assets as available during January 1985 through May 2020, they find that:

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Ending with the Beginning in Mind

How should investors think about the interactions between working years (retirement account contributions) and retirement years (retirement account withdrawals)? In his June 2020 paper entitled “Retirement Planning: From Z to A”, Javier Estrada integrates working and retirement periods to estimate how much an individual should save and how they should invest to achieve a desired retirement income and ultimate bequest to heirs. He illustrates his analytical solution empirically for U.S. stocks and bonds, first using a base case plus sensitivity analysis and then using Monte Carlo simulations. His base case assumes:

  • Work will last 40 years with a 60%/40% stocks/bonds retirement portfolio.
  • Retirement will last 30 years with beginning-of-year real (inflation-adjusted) withdrawals of $60,000 from a 40%/60% stocks/bonds retirement portfolio and ultimate bequest $300,000.

Using annual data for U.S. stocks (the S&P 500 Index total return), bonds (10-year U.S. Treasury notes) and U.S. inflation during 1928 through 2019, he finds that: Keep Reading

Demise of Multi-class Investing?

Does multi-class investing boost performance for sophisticated investors such as educational endowments? In his June 2020 paper entitled “Endowment Performance and the Demise of the Multi-Asset-Class Model”, Richard Ennis examines recent performance of educational endowment funds, with focus on allocations to alternative assets. Using performance data from a report on 774 university endowments and from hand-collected annual reports for some large individual endowments during June 2008 through June 2019, he finds that: Keep Reading

Exploit U.S. Stock Market Dips with Margin?

A subscriber requested evaluation of a strategy that seeks to exploit U.S stock market reversion after dips by temporarily applying margin. Specifically, the strategy:

  • At all times holds the U.S. stock market.
  • When the stock market closes down more than 7% from its high over the past year, augments stock market holdings by applying 50% margin.
  • Closes each margin position after two months.

To investigate, we assume:

  • The S&P 500 Index represents the U.S. stock market for calculating drawdown over the past year (252 trading days).
  • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) represents the market from a portfolio perspective.
  • We start a margin augmentation at the same daily close as the drawdown signal by slightly anticipating the drawdown at the close.
  • 50% margin is set at the opening of each augmentation and there is no rebalancing to maintain 50% margin during the two months (42 trading days) it is open.
  • If S&P 500 Index drawdown over the past year is still greater than 7% after ending a margin augmentation, we start a new margin augmentation at the next close.
  • Baseline margin interest is U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield plus 1%, debited daily.
  • Baseline one-way trading frictions for starting and ending margin augmentations are 0.1% of margin account value.
  • There are no tax implications of trading.

We use buying and holding SPY without margin augmentation as a benchmark. Using daily levels of the S&P 500 Index, daily dividend-adjusted SPY prices and daily T-bill yields from the end of January 1993 (limited by SPY) through May 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Enhancement of Dual Momentum with Just Three Assets?

In response to “Review of Dual Momentum with Just Three Assets”, a subscriber suggested adding gold in competition with long-term U.S. Treasury bonds as a safe haven from equities. To test this potential enhancement of Accelerating Dual Momentum (ADM), we each month:

  1. Calculate for each of SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (SCZ), iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) and SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) the sum of its 1-month, 3-month and 6-month past returns.
  2. If sums for both SPY and SCZ are negative, buy the one of TLT and GLD with the higher sum.
  3. If both sums for SPY and SCZ are not negative, buy the one with the higher sum.

Using end-of-month dividend-adjusted prices of these ETFs during December 2007 (limited by SCZ) through April 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Tech Premium Boost for Simplest Asset Class Momentum Strategy?

In response to “Tech Equity Premium?”, a subscriber asked about substituting Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) in the “Simplest Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy?”, which each month holds SPY or iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) depending on which has the higher total return over the last three months. To investigate, we run a horse race between the strategy executed with SPY (SPY-TLT) and the strategy executed with QQQ (QQQ-TLT). We focus on compound annual growth rates (CAGR) and maximum drawdowns (MaxDD) as performance metrics and assess robustness across lookback intervals of one to 12 months. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for SPY, QQQ and TLT during July 2002 (limited by TLT) through April 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

SACEMS at Weekly and Biweekly Frequencies

A subscriber asked for an update on whether weekly or biweekly (every two weeks) measurement of asset class momentum works better than monthly measurement as used in “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS)” (SACEMS). Do higher measurement frequencies respond more efficiently to market turns? To investigate, we compare performances of strategies based on monthly, weekly and biweekly frequencies with comparable lookback intervals. For this comparison, we align weekly and biweekly results with monthly results, though they differ somewhat due to mismatches between ends of weeks and ends of months. We consider portfolios of past ETF winners based on Top 1 and on equally weighted (EW) Top 2 and Top 3. Using weekly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the asset class proxies per baseline SACEMS and the yield for Cash during February 2006  through April 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Multi-strategy Portfolio Design Approach

How should investors think about combining strategies into a broader portfolio that reliably exploits their interactions over time? In the March 2020 version of his paper entitled “Preferred Portfolios: An Improved Blueprint to Construct Multi Strategy Portfolios”, Lars Kestner discusses how to combine individual strategies into a portfolio that performs robustly out-of-sample base on five principles. His objective is to sift data with a systematic process, find small edges and fit them together into a reliable combination of return streams that in aggregate perform well under almost all market conditions. His process employs two sets of building blocks: (1) diverse quantitative strategies clustered into four categories; and, (2) nine asset markets/classes. Based on theoretical considerations and his experience as an investment manager, he concludes that:

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