2018 saw CTAs cap a generally poor decade of performance with a particularly bad year of losses. Given this, Galen Stops takes a look at whether the rationale for investors including CTA strategies in their portfolio is still valid. Post financial crisis, CTAs have struggled to produce returns, with only 2010 and 2014 standing out […]
Tag: trend following
This week’s podcast opens with Galen Stops gloating over Colin Lambert because CTAs – and in particular ones using trend following strategies – are (finally!) producing some positive returns. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, argues Lambert, but Stops is convinced that this is the beginning of an upswing for these hedge funds. This leads into a more serious discussion about some the challenges facing CTAs when their trend following models aren’t working. For example, do they alter their models to improve returns at the risk of diluting their potency as a diversifier within investors’ portfolios?
Following an initial positive run in the first few days of the year, all CTAs in the Societe Generale (SG) Indices were in negative territory by the end of January. The SG Trend Index was down 3.25% and the SG Short-Term Traders Index was down 1.71%. The SG CTA Index returned -1.99% despite being helped slightly by three non-trend following managers’ positive performances during the month.The SG Trend Indicator attributed losses to equity markets and currencies. They were positioned short in risk assets, hence equity markets’ reversal and gains in one of their best Januarys ever, contributed to losses of 3.91% at the portfolio level.
It’s the end of year It’s the end of year special podcast and Colin Lambert and Galen Stops are in jovial mood as they bring the curtain down on another busy year in the FICC industry. Listen in as they each identify a key theme from the past year and look to re-assess them with the benefit of hindsight, before moving into less certain territory by providing a price prediction for everyones favourite out-of-control child, Bitcoin.
They also – this being the season of making a wish, share their one hope for 2019, although one of them (Lambert of course) appears to have forgotten it’s the season of goodwill!
In a sensational end to the year’s podcasts, Lambert also reveals that yes, he did indeed quote from the film Love Actually in a podcast earlier this year, but he tries (and fails) to make amends by setting listeners another teaser by paraphrasing from a much more acceptable movie…in his mind at least!
Following a difficult October, CTAs continued to face challenges in November as the SG CTA Index was down 1.09% and the SG Trend Index was down 1.75%. Year-to-date, the SG CTA Index is down 7.18%.
However, the SG Trend Indicator outperformed the Trend Index as it was up 2.51%. This was driven by gains in commodity markets especially from short positions in the energy sector.
Apart from the uplift in commodities, trend following strategies struggled in other sectors with losses in currencies and equities. There were strong reversals against established trends in particular in Australian and New Zealand dollar. Furthermore, trends in bond markets continued to be mixed, as the new upward momentum brought the recent downward trend to an end.
This is a pretty horrible time for CTAs, not only because of the sector’s very visible performance issues, but because it’s even worse than the numbers suggest. After all, the big selling point for CTAs has always been they are a good hedge in falling equity markets – but they clearly have not been this year. It may not be all doom and gloom, however, for using new technologies and techniques they have the opportunity to re-engineer their models to meet the challenges of the modern market structure.
This week’s podcast sees Colin Lambert and Galen Stops discuss the latest lawsuit facing banks over their actions in FX markets, during which Lambert invokes the spirit of a film that he can’t remember the name of, by asking, “Could you ask me that question again Galen?”
Stops also has a series of questions relating to the Virtu-ITG tie up reported this week as our two podcasters discuss the evolution of the non-bank trading firm business model. Where do these firms expand? Lambert is fairly confident (is he ever not?) that it is not by buying other trading firms, but both men see opportunities away from trading.
They also discuss volatility in crypto markets and ask – at what stage does the institutional enthusiasm for crypto start to weaken?
This week’s podcast also highlights how Lambert giveth…and taketh away…as it is bookended by praise and ridicule for his colleague! Find out why by listening in to this week’s edition.
It’s a bumper edition of In the FICC of it this week as Colin Lambert and Galen Stops prepare to head off to Forex Network Chicago 2018, with both giving previews of the main issues that they plan to tackle on the panel sessions that they are moderating.
The pair also discuss a report by the New York state Attorney General, which highlighted some major concerns about some of the crypto trading venues operating today. But the most interesting aspect of this story is the response of one exchange that decided to hit back at the AG in rather spectacular fashion – Lambert and Stops highlight some of the shots fired on (where else?) Twitter.
Has trend following had its day as a trading strategy? The Profit & Loss editors go head-to-head on this debate, with managing editor, Colin Lambert arguing that trend following is dead and editor, Galen Stops, arguing the opposite. Which side do you find more persuasive?
Why Trend Following is Dead
The changing nature of markets tells Colin Lambert that trend following as a strategy has had its day…and then there’s the data.
When Galen and I decided to argue our cases over the relative merits of trend following, I immediately thought of amassing mountains of data around moving averages and breakout points. I then reminded myself this is not the way I do things and as such, decided to go the bluster route.
Following a challenging period in July, CTA performance improved in August as all the indices posted positive performance.
The strong month was led by the uptick in the performance of trend followers, as the Societe Generale (SG) Trend Index was up +3.92%, but all CTA strategies benefitted.
The SG CTA Index was up 2.64% and the SG Short Term Traders Index was up 1.07%.
The SG Trend Indicator was up 4.14% and the key sectors which contributed were commodities, currencies, and equities.