Jan 6 – Sanary and Le Castalette + Market update

We visited eze and Monaco rock yesterday.  Eze is a medieval town outside of Monaco which reminds me of an extremely miniature castle version of Mdina.  It’s got shops and restaurants nestled within the stone.  We only had an hour there so we enjoyed some Provence rose and headed by bus to Monaco rock which is the old Monaco district where the palace and church are.  Also where Grace  Kelly is buried.  She died untimely on the roads of Monaco many years ago (she was married to prince Rainer). A tidbit:  Monaco means monk.  The reason why it’s monk is because of Grimaldi who disguised himself as a monk and knocked on a monastery, slaughtered it’s inhabitants and took over the area.  For some reason this seems celebrated here.  Whatever.

Today we visit Sanary and le Castellet

The market had its first four day losing streak since 2013.  It was a solid 2 percent down day.  It’s approaching over sold but the downward RSI is strong so we should expect more down ahead after perhaps a little bounce.  You need some positive divergence in the RSI before reaching a bottom. There is none -yet.  We’ve seen violent unrelenting bounces before without divergence but it feels different this time around.  A lot more geopolitical events now (Greek exit, insanely falling oil, euro/usd fall)

Our spy/TLT trade isn’t doing terrible considering but it’s still down.  As time passes and upon any VIX reduction and upwards move we should profit well.  I  entered at multiple times and as well even some was entered yesterday during the strong down move. We’ve got 205-200, 204-199, 203-198, 202-198 and 199-194 now.   So we added ours all the way down.  It’s better than having entered them all at 205-200.  TLT is acting well as the pair trade.  Over all we should do well enough.  I may add 10 percent more TLT On a bounce in spy and fall in TLT as a slight hedge.

 

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Jan 5 – Monaco and Eze + Market update

We’re in Monaco. We’ll be touring Eze village and Monaco Rock today.  We left Rome on the 3rd and stopped in Livorno yesterday, however, we never got off the ship, so there is nothing to report on Livorno. We used yesterday to relax and catch up. The kids spent probably 7-8 total hours in the kids centre, which was awesome and they loved it. They didn’t want to leave, they even wanted to sleep there. That was an unexpected perk of the ship. We had no idea that the kid center was that good or that you could leave your kids there while on excursions or while at dinner, breakfast or lunch. A definite perk and while I wouldn’t use it all the time, it’s nice to use it sometimes.  I spent the day kidless – reading, working out and relaxing.

Rome was meh, not a fan. It’s kind of a shit hole.  We ended up staying at an Airbnb that was a distance away from the city center but we found a cool neighborhood in walking distance that we spent most of our time at. We didn’t find that neighborhood until after NYE and we never went out for NYE because it was below 0 temperatures and we were tired. Plus, we had no idea where we were in Rome and all around us was a complete ghost town. We heard the bus took 45 min so we just ditched out on the idea and watched “A Midnight in Paris” and drank GTs instead.  The next day we went into town and were accosted non-stop by those street vendors that try to sell you magic bouncing balls and now “selfie sticks”.  I’m not kidding there has to be hundreds of these guys in the Colosseum area alone. Every few feet you’re nearly hit by these guys pointing their shitty sticks at you. Ash was about 2 inches from one hitting her in the eye. It’s unpleasant. Rome is unpleasant. Graffiti is everywhere and you know what they say “A city gets the graffiti it deserves”. I think that fits Rome.  Don’t want to come back. I’ve spent probably 15 full days here on various trips and I’ve never liked it. Venice is the same.  Probably the only two cities I’d call shit holes.

Yesterday, I bought a book called Dual Momentum that won best investing book of the year.  I’ve been reading a lot about momentum trading (maybe it should be called rotational investing?) lately (Faber etc) and am convinced of its merits.  Though the returns are only slightly higher on a per annum basis (expect 15-17% per annum)  the reduced risk, compounding benefits and drastically reduced drawdowns make it epically better.  We’re using some momentum in our portfolio constructions.  The key is removing large draw downs and with that you can compound year over year so much more efficiently. We’ll be rotating the best 3 out of a set of 15 ETFs on a monthly basis with our momentum strategy.  Our Protector Alpha portfolio also has momentum built into its mechanism.

Trading is going OK, I am trying to get all the trades entered for the month of January but had a bit of an issue with IB on Friday when I tried to enter them at open.  I had delayed quotes (no idea why, some sort of bug) and couldn’t update the settings in the IB account center because it was ALSO down for a few hours. Essentially I was flying blind and the market moved a bunch (down).  I couldn’t see pricing and I got on the ringer with IB but by the time that was all corrected, the market fell a solid 1%. I had opportunity to get way better pricing on some insurance rolls that I missed out on. I also had some better pricing on TLT that I missed out on. I would have entered all of those at market open but this prevented me from doing so.  Ah well. It cost a bit but it is part of the business.  IB account manager being down was out of my control.  Though, I doubt there is any lasting loss as I’ll enter the rest on a slight up day and I rolled to even lower strikes. I mean, I did do some market orders just didn’t get everything.  Either way, history shows that there is little difference to the day you enter (1st day of the month or 8th) so I am not so worried about the TLT and bond purchase miss but I am annoyed by the Rolls.  It’ll probably end up being net zero (or a small loss) but still quite annoying.

At the time of this writing, the ES futures are quite volatile, they’re up right now but had reached about 2037 before rebounding to 2048. Shanghai index surged to five year highs which seems to have caused the bounce. Good data in China.

 

 

 

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Dec 31 – New Years Eve

We’ve arrived in Rome for New Years Eve. It’s damn cold. Yesterday was the coldest day in Malta in 22 years. We’ve got no concrete plans for NYE. We’ll likely make our way to the centre, find a nice pub or wine bar and check out the colosseum around midnight. We depart for our cruise on the 3rd of January.

On the plane I was reading about global CAPE ratios. CAPE stands for cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings. It’s just a way to look at valuations of a specific market.  The US is at 26.5. That’s quite high. That means that VTI or S&P is trading at 26.5 x its current earnings. The general idea is that investing in a basket of countries with low CAPE will return more than  investing in a basket of countries with a high CAPE. It is shown that through history that investing in countries with CAPE levels lower than 7 returned a 30.1% CAGR the following year. Even recently, people who invested in Greece when its market collapsed and it was trading at a 2.x CAPE would have enjoyed a 30-50% CAGR the following year.  It’s a hard thing to do, as a country with a low CAPE likely has a LOT of very current negative press like Russia and again, Greece right now. You’re going against the grain.  However, there is likely more return opportunity in those two markets than there is in other countries.   You’d definitely want to buy a basket of country ETFs not just a few.  Like they say, “How do you get to a 90% loss, lose 80% and then lose half of that”  Just because something is low, doesn’t mean it can’t get lower!

Aside from that, not much practical things there for me, at least not yet.. I don’t think I’ll be looking at investing into low CAPE countries anytime in the near future. If I do, it’ll require a lot more research and planning.  Russia (ERUS or RSX) and Greece (GREK) do look attractive

I’m still entering portions of the 2015 portfolio. I have yet to enter the momentum and protector (Standard or Alpha) part and I’m only partially in the new SPY/TLT trade.  I am waiting to do this during the 1st week of January when there is more volume and I can get a better sense of things.  I might add a bond rotation portion to the overall portfolio as well. We’re targeting 4-6% a month with a bit of leverage (1.6x)

 

 

Dec 28 -Trade Portfolio Details

SPY/TLT

25%

Protector *Standard

15%

Protector *Alpha

15%

Momentum Trading

25%

Volatility Trading

15%

Opportunity + Adjustment Purse

5%

I’ve started constructing my trading portfolio for 2015 as listed above. I’ll be using 1.6x leverage for the Protector and Momentum portfolios.  We assume an average of $800 per unit of SPY/TLT and we end up with a historical expected value of 4.91% per month in returns.  Let’s see how we do.

 

Below is based on a 10k Unit

 

Portion % Expected per month Expected $ per month
SPY/TLT

25%

11%

275

Protector *Standard

15%

1.6%

24

Protector *Alpha

15%

2.13%

32

Momentum Trading

25%

1.6%

40

Volatility Trading

15%

8%

120

Opportunity Purse

5%

491

4.91%

 

 

Christmas Break Update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I came down with a throat/chest and ear infection combo deal that had me bed-ridden for days.  Luckily it subsided with some antibiotics right before Christmas day.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about active portfolio management. I’ve got three books on the go and one in particular that I’ve found quite interesting is  “The Ivy Portfolio” by Meb Faber that talks about Ivy league endowments, and most specifically the Harvard and Yale endowments. Further to that, I’ve also spent time reading some research journals on momentum and 13F Cloning  which are all quite interesting ways to obtain additional alpha.

13F cloning is basically taking the top 10 holdings of a hedge fund etc. These funds (over 100M) must report their holdings every 45 days. Since most aren’t actively traded, you can gain by copying their holdings and you don’t have to pay the 2 and 20 fees they usually have. Research shows that because you save on the fees and though its 45 days late, you can still generate around the same return.  I’ve got a list of fantastic funds to follow, and thus I am interested in creating a fund of funds using the top 10 holdings of the very best funds like Baupost (Klarman),  Appaloosa (Tepper) etc.

What makes me excited is our little insurance tool that we use in the Anchor strategy. This protects us in crashes (well really any market downturn). We usually only use a basic ETF like SPY or RSP but with the case of 13F cloning, mechanical investments and other methods of creating alpha that I am looking at, we can combine this insurance method and create more return with absolute protection in any major correction.  That has me very very excited.

I am gearing up to setup a nicely diversified active trading and portfolio combination for Dec 31st/Jan 1st.  I am excited about it.  It should be a great 2015.  Well diversified.

And for the first time on the blog, I’ll be finally doing some traveling! We’ve booked a cruise on Jan 3 till Jan 14 around the Med.  We’ve done most of the stops before but it was cheap and we’ve got our Au Pair. So it should be awesome. I haven’t had a vacation in years where I wasn’t actively managing stressful trades. I am quite looking forward to it and doing a lot more heavy reading/research.

Expect daily updates from here on in!

 

 

Dec 19 -Trade Plan –

As I look now the futures are at 2071 suggesting a 2076 open @ fair value.  Just a few days ago we touched 1976.  That’s nearly a 100 point or 5% rise in a matter of what 10 trading hours?  Incredible. I think the most market participants are jaw-dropped.  It’s the way 2014 has been – the year of the V-Shaped rallies.    Look at the chart below. That down was something else, but that up was even more sudden. I explain below the likely reasons for these rallies.

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These types of rallies are by in large caused by a few things

1) short-selling and subsequent covering.  It’s momentum.  Once the bull starts to run, you get panic shorts hitting the stops and being forced to cover (buy stocks back) which further fuels the rally. As long as you have a large amount of skeptical bears in the market, you’ll get these violent rallies. This is typical of a bull run that has a lot of negative sentiment accompanying it ( i.e. like we’ve had the last few months : weak data, oil problems, Ruble problems). There’s a lot of shorts and if they break their stops, this causes violent upswings.

2) In the October fall, you had a lot of funds/institutional investors underweight equities after the very sharp reversal. It gave few any time to get back in and many waited for the typical pull back after the first fall. Most of the time on a downtrend that strong, you’d get a second leg or at the very least some stalls and retracements at fibonnaci resistance levels. They can only go so long for the predicted pullbacks until conceding defeat. This pullback did not happen in October, the up was relentless and broke all sorts of records. The under-weighted institutional investors perpetuated this rally as they chased it.  The pressure to buy was strong. Simply put, the pressure to at least match the market is strong for these types of investors and they simply can’t underpform the market or else they look foolish. That fueled the rise in October and likely fueled this one as well. This fall was a gift for the ones still underweight and as soon as the selling pressure stopped you got a massive up-swing like we’ve seen the past few days.  Everyone was hoping for a dip, they got it and the old adage ‘fool me once’ probably played a role in the even more sudden V-rally this time around. On just a bit of strength everyone pounced in. Nobody wants to miss the next V-rally especially after they’ve been praying for a large pull-back.

At close there was a p-bar that touched 212.97 on SPY. Likely that’s the target for this bull run. The season favours the bull as well. They call it the santa claus rally. I’d expect strength going into the end of the year.

I am out of the MIC and in just the SPY/TLT and Anchor trades at the moment.  Yesterday was a good day for the anchor.

Dec 18 -Trade Plan #2

Well, the market opened about 23 points above yesterdays close.  In just 2 days the market has gone from 1971 to 2042. That’s almost 75 points.  Incredible.  I’m glad I’m not managing an MIC right now with that gap up.

Right now I am working on constructing the details of a  trading portfolio made up of a few different strategies.  This will provide greater diversification, less active trading and more stability.

I am going to activate this portfolio on Dec 31st and post daily/weekly results here on the blog.

I’ll be doing

1. Earnings related volatility trades

2. Anchor Trades

3. Momentum Trades

4. SPY/TLT pair trades

 

 

 

 

Dec 18 – Trade Plan (Prelim)

 

The SPX is about to close about 45 points up from the open. Incredible.  That’s a 60 point swing from the overnight lows.  I am so relieved to be out of the MIC trade.  I just don’t think I can do that sort of trade any more. It’s too stressful and requires too much active management. I am now moving towards a trading portfolio that integrates  the SPY/TLT pair trade, Earnings volatility trades, Anchor portfolio, intra-day breadth trades and a Momentum portfolio.  My new focus during spare time will be on active portfolio management in these key areas and a lot less on having to be tied to the computer making adjustments and stressing about overnight moves. I’ve literally probably not slept about 5-7 nights in the past 60 days.  If it wasn’t Japan introducing QE, or China lowering interest rates, it was the Ruble and Oil crisis.  Just not healthy for me or my family.  It’s definitely not worth the 3% a month stress.

MIC

We’re now fully out of the MIC. I don’t have the final numbers yet but it was profitable.

Anchor

We’re doing great here. We weathered that downswing like a boss. The market fell 5% and we were barely affected. This is a true “sleep at night” portfolio.  I am coupling it with a few of my own tweaks

1. When market breadth is negative via sghammer.com I’ll be switching equities to ATM spy puts 4 weeks out

2. When market breadth is negative via sghammer.com I’ll be adding a TLT credit spread

This will be the anchor of our trading portfolio. It’s what I’d do if I started a fund. It’ll slightly under perform bull markets but it’ll consistently return 8-12% during bear markets. Leverage this up and you’re sitting pretty in a completely insured portfolio.

TLT/SPY Pair trade

I was able to finally enter the TLT roll today as TLT fell from 127 to 126. We’re now up on the trade by about 8k.

Momentum Trade

I haven’t entered this yet. I’ll be adding this January 1st after I do more research and prep work.

Dec 17 -Trade Plan-

MIC

Yesterday did not go like planned. There was a an 80 point swing from high to low that caused a lot of whipsaw pain as we closed our trade.  They were quick and fills were a big issue. Incredibly annoying and a testament to why I am getting fed up with this trade type.  I am over it. There’s better ways to make money in this market.

We’ll still close the trade at a profit but nowhere like we expected.  It is what it is.  The market opened at 198-199 and proceeded to go right to 202 and then back down to 197.8 in full swoops.  Huge intraday moves.  Hard to defend against. It was a shit show trying to remove the trade as the market swung wildly and I wasn’t able to get good fills as per usual during high volatility swings.  Probably should have closed the trade earlier but overall it may end up being a wash having held over the weekend. We’ll see.   Glad to end this type of trading for good.  Not worth the 2-3% a month.  Moving on to SPY/TLT, Momentum, Anchor.

 ANCHOR

Anchor has performed so nicely during this down trend. My account from the highs to the lows of yesterday is only down about about 1%. I do use a bit of timing in how I go long on the equities. If market breadth and bullish percentages are trending down I’ll sell ATM puts as a replacement for my equity. So at about 206 I sold all my ES/F and RSP that were my longs and sold an equal amount of weekly ATM spy puts with lots of premium. This obviously protected me in the last downtrend. My account should have been down closer to 2.5% from the highs to the lows (half of the 5% down).  So yeah, the downtrend (208.5 to 197.6) has produced around a 1% loss in balance. Love it.  Takes 15 min of trading and a little monitoring and that’s it.   The strategy is a long equity based strategy so any uptick in the market will start producing profits again. Over time, protecting yourself from loss is the key to success. It equates to more efficient compounding.

The TLT/SPY pair trade is doing as expected but is currently down. I closed the TLT portion @ 0.19 and am left with the spy portion. I wasn’t able to roll the TLT in time and I am waiting a little to see if TLT will reverse. The chart below suggests it might be ready for reversal (hanging man candle stick, overbought RSI). Once it does, I’ll enter another spread to offset risk exposure in the spy portion.

 

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Dec 16 – Trade Plan –

==Update Market Open==

Since my opening post, the futures had fallen about 30 points and are now recovering. The high was 1994 and it had fallen to 1961.50 and currently sits around 1977.25.  Another perfect open for us. Now we try and exit the trade.

I follow a few sources that I use when I have to make close call decisions on adjustments. The first is a market breadth indicator that I follow at www.sghammer.com and the other is cobrasmarketview.  Right now the summation of all the info is suggesting a bit of a bounce right here.  I am going to start scaling out of the trade.

 

== Update 9:05 am European Time ==

Futures are up about 0.4%. We’re entering the day a bit delta negative.  We will be closing the trade throughout the day. We are looking at about a 5-6% return for the month.  Not bad considering the SPX has fallen about 80 points in the past week.  It helps offset the 9% loss I had last month.

We’re perfectly balanced on the anchor trade. An Anchor trade is where we buy the market (RSP), buy equal amount of ATM Spy Puts (insurance) a year out, then buy about 30% more insurance and sell an equal portion of weekly spy puts (30%) against this each and every week. When you sell insurance you get a premium which we call time decay. You get paid for the risk of selling insurance. We target enough premium each week to pay for the entire 130% of long insurance we purchased a year out. The idea is at the end of the year you have paid for the insurance and thus have had a relatively low risk way of having market exposure. The returns are quite astounding.

 

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Refer to the ETFs hedged column. The results are even better as we’ve added new rules to how we sell the short puts that eliminate a lot of the whip saw you’d experience.  We’ve bumped up 2011 performance and 2008 performance quite a bit.

Today will mark the day where I start to diversify away from being primarily focused on the MIC (modified Iron Condor) trade and more diversified into 5 different complementary trading strategies. I am looking to alleviate the time requirements of managing a heavy MIC trade. It’s something I am very looking forward to.