Updates for the Quarter

Finished the quarter at 8.5% which was a good look given the S&P was down about 5% but I felt like things could have been managed better especially the initial response and the adjustment to the huge bearish rallies we had. I have two accounts (EDF w/ a seat in Chicago to trade futures) and IB. The EDF account I purposely left on as totally systematic and had traded the IB account more discretionary. The systematic account did beat the discretionary account. Now some caveats there, when we have a large market event like this quarter, we often pause new entries of OTM trades, allow convexity to play out in our tail structures and move to more defined risk structures like ATM trades but only until we get an all clear, this is usually days to weeks max. 99% of the time we’re in our systems. Some learning nuggets in there but mostly nothing we didn’t already know. Interestingly, the account would have published >20% result if the market closed anywhere near 4350 or below but alas, we had a bullish run into EOQ. A little lotto almost. The good news is that this quarter (Q2) is almost up the same as Q1 and it’s only 18 days in. The expectation based on models is that Peak will end up around 25% for H1 2022.

We officially Just finished the first two years for the fund which did awesome. An average of 40% a year which matches the arithmetic backtests we’ve done. I had about 2 years before that with personal trading, so I now have 4 years out of sample matching the available back-testing. All in all, couldn’t ask for anything more. What a successful start. The fund setup was as legit as you could setup and was pretty interesting, it requires 2 independent directors as oversight, a 3rd party fund administration company, that has access to the platform back-end and reviews all trade logs daily, an auditor (Grant Thornton) and loads of administrative tasks by the government. Literally have 10+ people reviewing our trade logs for accounting/oversight. I don’t even have access to the bank account. How neat. Who would have thought. At first, I thought it was a lot of pressure especially given short term swings/dynamics, but I am quite used to it now. As it grows, so does the need for very robust systems, checklists and daily verifications of models/trades. It’s been an interesting experience and I’m loving that our results are published and audited. It’s opening up a lot of pathways and keeping me to task. I am not living my semi-retired life I was on the path to living a few years back but I love what I do so it’s not work.

As I always harp on about my focus being on risk reduction as a way to increase geometric returns, it’s really taking in the point of ergodicity vs non-ergodicity and an example I really liked that Spitznagel used in his book (safe haven) was that of a merchant company who had ships going back and forth in Europe which were prone to pirate attacks. They determined that 1/20 ships would sink and they’d lose 10k (just an example) but had been offered insurance at the price of $600 per ship. Seems like a bad bet right? $12k is more than the 10k they’d lose every 20x on average. But it isn’t when looked at geometrically. The stable cost of $600 per sailing and not having that 10k draw down actually generates more $ over time. It’s a win win for both the merchant and the insurance company. A paradox! But it has one assumption, that the merchant is actioning his money to increase business. If so, then having less cash draw down allows for better compounding in the number of ships he can send. Having that 10k drawdown and having to recover from that drawdown is more of a cost than paying 12k to insure the 20 ships. Go figure. On paper, it’s -2k worse but geometrically it’s better. Here’s another example, if you flip a coin and heads you gain 50% of your worth and tails you lose 40% of your worth, most professional gamblers would all agree that you’ve got POSEV of 5% and it’s a great bet. But geometrically it is a terrible bet. Given enough trials, all participants will go bust. Having been a professional gambler in my university days (only with edges!) I’ve witnessed people through out the years, taking insane $ bets for small edges, I guess if their bankroll is enough, it’s fine but else, it’s eventually a bust. It’s not just about POSEV situations but also bankroll management and risk mitigation via volatility reduction. Most bets aren’t an ergodic process. There’s mathematical equations you can use to figure out how to size bets like these, but rarely do professionals or gamblers alike do that. It’s like Russian roulette (where the 1/6 will end the game forever). Sure, if you had 1000 of you spinning that revolver (picture a multi-verse), you’ll obtain the arithmetic average, but as an independent single trial, it’s an assured total loss. We don’t care that we on average beat the game but what happens if we KEEP playing the game! It’s the life pathway in investing/trading that we care about most not the EV of a specific trade. Large draw-downs along the way are inhibitive to growth more so than the EV itself (for the most part and being reasonable). Everyone says (I stole this) that “Man I wish I invested in Amazon in 1999, I’d be Rich” But that’s pretty stupid, because during that time amazon had 90% draw downs. Imagine following the trajectory of that persons investments.

Volatility tax is such an important concept in finance and one that many ignore. It’s my focus and it’s why I have such positive exposure to tail events and work to have mid-way hedges to reduce drawdown in a campaign setting. I went from being a professional risk taker (I’d define myself this before up until a few years ago) to becoming a professional risk reducer. The entire premise of my trading style is risk reduction (volatility reduction) by way of diversification (as best as I can within the framework I work in) to provide better geometric returns. Just having a risk focused mindset is a win. I don’t focus on returns so much anymore, but rather, smart defined ways to reduce risk via diversification so that my edges are better compounded.

Meta Portfolio Compositions and back in the grind!

Made my way to our new temporary home for the winter and spring. The place will be our forever home in Canada and act as our main base. We still are trying to figure out if we’re going to make our way to LA for the kids education but we’re getting tired after this last build and move so who knows. That said, I miss how easy things were in Cayman, it was like a free-for-all in terms of pretty much anything/everything re being able to just live life. I am met with blocks on everything here in Canada. Everyone seems to want to create problems. It’s bizarre. They won’t even accept my international license or cayman license and want me to start off with a learners permit, they’re having a fucking laugh. I’ll just continue to use my Cayman license, just means I can’t register my cars until I can find some Canadian insurance company that would insure me without a CAD license. I also find myself talking on the phone to customer support for hours a day for a variety of things as well. Real life sucks apparently lol.

We’re here until at least the summer and though we’re 90% going to LA, there’s a small chance we’ll fall in love with this property and stay here. Though, man, I just don’t know if I can “regular” life it here like I said above. It’s probably irrational but there’s a lot of weird feelings about raising the kids here and I mean, its fucking’ cold. Though, having the plane now gives me some pretty cool options to escape and the hangar is literally 12 min from my house. I can fly to Myrtle beach in like 3.2 hours for instance. The property is 100 acres located just 25 min from Toronto international. So the location is perfect and close to the international airport and acts as a great base to our families (we’re both from area originally and our families are here). That was the intent…have a second home near our families but it became much much more than that as the project developed and the budget increased…..

One of my best friends designed and built it same as he did for Cayman so it’s been a fun challenging project and his tenacity for efficiency, his skills and his ability to keep the project a value creation device has allowed for a valuation much higher than what was put in. So I am super happy and both projects have provided me with value. He’s been actively helping me manage investments so it might be his pièce de ré·sis·tance or swan song as he moves more towards trading. Or perhaps he continues on but treats it like a hobby or it’s a bit of both. Who knows. Here’s a few cool pictures of the property (which isn’t 100% complete yet but liveable). It’s got a VR/Sim room which will be decked out with a star wall, RGB lights, and 4 setups (our family are PC gamers…no XBOX whatever or PS whatever allowed in here!). We have a sweet swimmable hot-tub on the second deck, an infra-red sauna, several cool fireplaces, a speak-easy etc. It turned into a true chalet like experience. Our furniture hasn’t yet arrived but I think it’ll be here in 1.5 weeks. We’re making due with what we have, it’s exciting because so much is not done and we’ve got limited furniture so it’ll only get better. Fun and frustrating at the same time I guess.

Probably the only space that’s 95% completed. The entry.

The outdoor ceiling is not complete yet but it’s coming!
Void of furniture but what a view!

It’s coming…
Missing the furniture but it works!

We landed in CNC3 a few weeks ago and hangared the plane. I still need some more hours but the weather has been shit and instructor availability as well. Things happened slower then I hoped. I really wanted to come back licensed fully.

The entire break I’ve been concentrating on meta portfolio construction as a means to reduce drawdown and increase geometric returns. I’ve come up with using 3-4 OTM style trades that we talk about in the PMTT Group as a base income producer and with my own spins and each are composed of 4 different types of BSH. These are put on in campaign style with the average being about 10 weeks of campaign. This gives time diversification. So we’re now diversified in entry timing, OTM income production and BSH provision. On top of this, I combine 2 black swan type campaigns that provide additional protection over all. Then I have an aggressive harvesting style that really translates into back ratios at a variety of strikes on older maturing trades. So basically, 10 different time entries, 4 different strategies, 4 different BSH styles, a bonus 2 hedge type factories and harvesting. About as tight as you can get.

  1. 4 Types of Out-of-the-money income strategies put on across 10 weeks giving time, strike(skew) diversification
  2. 4 Types of BSH protection put on across 10 weeks giving time, strike (skew) diversification
  3. 2 bonus types of BSH factories/hedges put on in campaign style across 4-6 weeks giving skew and time diversification and 2 additional fail safe swan protections
  4. Harvesting aggressively all structures that are matured

You’re left with creating less draw down and increasing compounding returns which is equally important to the trade strategy itself. It add complexity sure, but I mean, this is all I really do now and it’s systematic. That’s a preferred method for me.

I’m finalising all the time series for each of the campaigns from 2014+ and I’ve noted that there is adequate response differences to a variety of environments and together they provide a smoothing of return. In my mind and as I mature as a trader and as I have started getting consistent results, I’m convinced that the key to success at trading for a living comes with diversification both in time and in strategy. You take 6 known alpha producers and you do 1/6th each. It helps with human factors, as you’re much more likely to follow the system/rules if it’s just some annoying small part of the portfolio not the entire thing. The options market has a funny way of causing you to draw down from the tops.. You’ll be sitting at 80% profit target and one day you’ll draw down to 50% for no reason (market hasn’t moved) and you’re becoming price fixated and often times it does preclude a vol event and from there you’re just waiting for that old 80% to come back because you think you can rely on time. It’s a fools errand not to follow the systems and rules. You’re much more likely to do what you need to do if it’s just a 1/6-1/8th portion of your portfolio.

As mentioned before, the last 6 months have been pretty much straight opportunistic ebb-flow ATM style trades taking advantage of the environment. I’ve just started implementing a systematic portfolio based on the above post and from there that’s all I’ll pretty much do.

I am back at my desk for 8 months so I hope to blog more and post interesting things the best I can.

Jul 30 2020 BWB+Fly Aug Trade Update

A nice pop in the p/l given the US is contemplating giving up on those pesky elections. Who needs them 🙂 Delta sitting comfortably at -800 and given the DTE, any moves towards -200 delta and I’ll just start peeling off the trade piece by piece removing risk as I go.

Sep BWBs are currently going for about 95c credit and Oct BWBs are going for about 2.25c. I’ve got loads of flies up in Sep so I can purchase BWBs against those but I didn’t get any in Oct yet so I’d have some exposure to downside if I get some of the Octs on. Not terrible given the deltas I’ve got built up in Sep so I’ll probably put some on today. Usually I like to start with the flies. It’s no different than just entering a rhino/bwb though which loads of people do without the fly hedge/combo.

It’d be a huge milestone to close the Aug at 500k P/L. It’ll call for some real nice champagne. But I won’t fixate on it, I’ll just manage that risk. Huge month so far and I think July is sitting at just over 7% P/L and Aug will likely be similar. Cannot complain and thankful the market keeps on giving.

Had a 30% year last year and I gather I’ll get towards 50-60% this year solely from the opportunities. The last few months, I’ve just been concentrating solely on building that long vol BSH up and trading these Rhino/BWB combos but it rarely takes much more than 30min a day, things are boring when they are producing. Many traders say you’ve made it and are barking up the right tree when you’re trading a system thus eliminating human factors and bias and subsequently the actual act of trading becomes boring. The latter part is true right now, the former isn’t based on a system per say but it will be once this environment ends.

Jul 27, 2020 – August BWB/FLY Trade Update

We ended Friday at a delta of -900 after adjustments and now sit around -1700. That shows you just how quickly negative delta you get with time even just the weekend. The position is hovering around 285k P/L so it’s seen an increase of 35k over the weekend. I’ll have to adjust the upside today and by Thursday this will be done with removals from the structure rather than additions to it. There is 25 days to expiration and I’ll aim to remove risks as we go from here until it’s a benign structure that can be expired.

Jul 24 2020 – The Big ATM trade update

Here’s an update on my big August trade that has about two weeks left in it. It’s starting to actually look like an old school ATM trade given the reduction in VIX and the lack of credits in 30 DTE or earlier trades. From March till June, credits were huge and upside risk NIL. Now as opposed to then, I actually have to use some upside adjustments aggressively.

I started adjusting for upside exposure during this little fall towards 3200. My overall deltas are sitting at -900 and I’ll close out the day at that.

Delta: -939

Theta: 21,956

Vega: -10,567

The position represents 5MM in planned capital and is sitting at 251k profit. I’ll dance this thing into Aug 7/8th and continuously remove risk and adjust. There’s a small chance for an extremely large payoff (the biggest I’ve ever seen) @ 1MM in 1 month. Reminds me of that show 2months 2million. Ridiculous but it is the environment and the opportunities. These types of trades won’t last. For now, I’ll happily let it beef up the account. I’ve got BS protection in case we have some sort of massive gap down.

Here’s the trade looking forward 7 days

Here it is where I expect to close it. It won’t look like this later as I’ll be constantly adjusting back and forth between now and then and the negative deltas will continue to build up as time passes

For a bit there, the VIX hit around 24 and it looked like the ebb and flow trade was about to get a lot harder but today we can now get a Sep BWB for $1.00 credit. So we’re still going for now 🙂 I got some on to offset the Sep position which I started with symmetric flies back at 3260-3270. I’ll be very happy if we can keep getting these conditions for the next 6 months.

In a large fall, and if we approach -400 delta, I’ll start to adjust for the downside and I’ll offset with some way OTM calendars in case of a bounce. I have two trading weeks left for Aug position which will get more and more negative delta and have more and more protection to the downside. If I am forced to adjust for downside next week, it means we went through 3150 area and to offset the nuance of continuously increasing negative deltas, I’ll use some way OTM calendars for upside protection while adjusting for the asymmetric risks on the downside.

I gotta say, I feel kinda lucky that I was also able to start the September position, I wasn’t sure I’d be getting the same opportunities with BWB pricing. Perhaps this continues on for the rest of the year re elections in Nov. Eventually I will move on to a 488 campaign, BSH factory, TAA and ATM at lower PC.

Jul 16 – ATM Trade Update

I’m hitting (well above) negative delta limits on my current Aug ATM trade and am looking at ways to reduce it now that July expiration is over and that was providing me some positive deltas. It’ll get more and more negative delta as it progresses into the month so I’ll deal with it daily and continuously raise up that Upper expiration line. This trade represents a planned capital of 5,000,000.

I had the deltas in line a week ago but the reduction in vol and time passing has brought them quickly out of line. The BWBs in August are no longer giving a credit but would give some positive deltas and theta/risk. I think I’ll save those for a larger down day. We’re down about 0.75% today so I’ll have to start looking at PCS maybe even some call structures (call calendars or call BWB). I haven’t had to do that yet post crash as the bwb credits were sufficient in raising that UEL and eliminating upside risks.

I am looking at 3325 calendars, 3250 calendars (mixed) along with a 11 delta 75 wide PCS and I’ve already got some long ES to temp hedge.

So yeah, let’s go over the Aug position:

It is at -1450 or so delta and has pretty significant upside risk to the already existing profit of $125k. So we have to do something. We do benefit from vol release on up moves but it’s not enough. I’d like to get it down to about -700.

Here’s the trade looking forward 14 days

We’ve got massive theta, great risk reward if we get our deltas in-line and decent non-black swan downside risk profile. The previous expirations (from May till now) were a lot easier on the upside so this one will be a bit trickier.

Dec 3 2019 – Trade Updates

The last two months have been quiet for me. The low vol run up meant that I had no STT trades on and I was left with just the LTI/Tactical asset portfolio along with a few ATM trades. Still at about 30% for the year and any big down move that causes a VIX 22/23 move along with some evidence of capitulation/forced selling/margin call will allow me to enter a nice STT that could catapult the return to 35-40% for year end. We’ll see if it happens.

Today’s down move got me perked up and I am keenly watching for entry opportunities. If it doesn’t come, it is what it is. We’ll keep waiting. In the meantime, I did enter some ATM trades today using the vol to get decent prices. It’ll give the portfolio some potential for a decent year end. I’d love 35% but with these opportunistic trades, profit will come in bunches. My backtest shows that 2018 would have been a 100% year if I was entering with the same parameters I have now. Today, we hit 18 vix and I was hoping for an EOD type sell off and a further weak open to eye up some opp. 484stt with elevated >22 VIX but alas we bounced into close.

The idea going forward is to do the TAA blends, some ATM blends and opportunistic STTs (I might only get 1-2 a year but they’ll boost the TAA+ATM for a solid 40% average return over time). I can post all the ATM stuff I do without regard to the IP restrictions of the group so maybe I’ll start just posting my daily updates of the ATM trades so there’s more content and commentary here. I’ve halved the PC for risk purposes but it boosts the LTI returns while we wait for STT opps. I much prefer to be patient and wait for great entries than to deal with extended down moves and vol increases with OTM type trades.

I had a busy few months traveling, which I guess was good timing with what was a “never go down” market until now. I hit up LA with my family to look at schools for my kids, then met my guy friends there and departed my family and had a guys trip that extended from LA to Denver and Miami. Good time but when combined with my last trips in September, my liver needs a good cleanse.

May 14 (Update 2) – STT, Long term base portfolio and travel plans

Yesterday at about 2803 I was able to sell puts for my factory and in one single day I am now able to form a BSH for profit (free + some). I got 30 units (90 short puts) on within 8 hours. Epic.

I also started the equities portion of my long term portfolio as my base (I did a combo from allocate smartly that has a historical of 10.4% annual with a max draw down of about 6.1%). Good base portfolio. Today I got the treasuries/bonds portion on 🙂 good timing. I will now let that run itself without messing about. I had it on at 2940 area but didn’t like the timing re the heavy portion in SPY so I closed it at the highs 2949 and now just re-opened. It was more like a mulligan, my plan isn’t to mess about with it and I won’t from here on in.

YTD is now 15% (3.35% a month) and that’s on actual total equity. Nice!

I am going away for my next portion of the summer/spring vacations. I’ll be starting in Montreal for the party millions event and I’ll make my way to Ottawa to meet with my programmers in development office and then take in the Iliza show (for my wife). After that it’s on to Toronto to check out the start of my new house build there and then make my way to Moab for a glamping style wedding and after that…. Vegas for the WSOP!

In preparation, I’ve closed off most of my older STTs, cleaned up the account and prepped ONE. I have on some Aug, Sep and Oct with margin available for another 100 or so units if we get another vol spike/decline. The Aug is acting as a hedge to Sep and Oct but also has the most theta of all three months. October is now profitable (+11k) as predicted it would be by end of week.

May 14, 2019 – Trade Plan (STT BWB + BSH)

I ended up closing out my Jul 18 and Jul 31 STT remnants at a pretty awesome profit. I am left with August, September and October. The Aug and Jul ended up acting as moderate hedges to the Oct/Sept expiration which actually put my balance higher through the modest volatility events last week and put it right positive in the past two days. I am on target for a 20-22% H1 2019 and will end June at around 17%-18%. Exactly as predicted and planned.

That’s the beauty of running these in expiration campaign style. The older ones protect the newer ones and everything just meshes together perfectly. The older ones will hedge the 3-8% drops as you fall right into their built up profit zones and anything greater than 8-10% will be likely covered by the BSH OR you’ll have time to roll (if it was a slow grind) either way you’re good and only dealing with modest drops in P/L. Feels like a beautiful well oiled machine now.

I am not straying or considering much else in terms of trade types for the main portfolio. I want a clean year of just STT+BSH and I want to be a master of just one main trade type. I doubt I’ll deviate much other than finding more efficient ways to adjust.

All in all a good year so far.

May 6 2019 – Trade review (STT+BSH)

Nice little vol pop there. When I saw the tweet yesterday I knew to expect a very rocky futures open and when it got to about -2% I almost thought we could have a repeat of Aug 24 with a -5% open only because of the swiftness of the fall and the potential reaction when Europe opened. Alas, we swiftly found footing and the market rebounded and sits currently at 2920.

Funny enough, I had a portfolio on for my base via AllocateSmartly but didn’t love my entries and sold all of it Friday along with all my other longs. Good timing 🙂 I also harvested all my older STT and BSH last week and removed a ton of risk. I mean I have 600 net long puts in May 31 expiration and my Aug/Sep STTs were harvested. I wasn’t breaking a sweat last night even if we did open 5% down. Even today, I am neutral delta without a single adjustment.

Today, I am using the bounce and increased volatility to add some bearish toned STT. The bounce gives me better delta and the increased vol allows me to have a longer upside runway. Pretty much all I’ll be doing today.

My newest Oct STTs are taking a bit of heat, down about 300 a shot x 40. They were quite positive upper expiration line and roughly +50 delta but I have -delta older ones and I am adding some bearish toned ones now. Within a week or two they’ll be positive if all things remain equal. As time goes on, the trades get more and more -ve delta.

I gather I’ll get the account up to about 20% for end of June for the year. Which is roughly the target. I am hoping for 25% but we’ll see how this plays out. If we have more downside, then I gather I can get even more as we enter the tents of matured trades but if we runaway upwards, it’ll just be the standard lower profit. My goal is to consistently hit a yearly 50% with STT+BSH on total account value w/ compounding and opportunistic over-leveraging on significant down moves up to 1.2x. I won’t be deviating strategies or diverting any funds away to other trades. This is a year long real money test of real market conditions and actual trade results for the STT+BSH combo.

I’ve been researching T5 a lot lately but it’ll be far separated from my main account. There’s a lot of opportunity with that trade and its juicy AF but it’s more fitting of my older previous life as a professional gambler. You have to look at it like a weighted coin flip in your favor but with regular total losses. I have to analyze Kelly criteria and risk of ruin as well as all the trade mechanics and market environment entry type stuff. Big project. Re what I mean : if you have a 55/45 edge in a coin flip, and you have 50k total, how much do you bet per hand to eliminate risk of total ruin so that you can infinitely take advantage of that significant edge? Is it 5k a flip? 2k? etc. You have to analyze this differently then something where you put all your equity in every trade and try to eliminate max draw down. Rather you accept the 100% win or loss and determine the edge and calculate the bet size. Should be interesting.