Traders do like to moan – I know I did – maybe because it’s therapeutic, maybe because it is (occasionally) true that they are unlucky. More often than not though, it’s because they’re wrong. That said, looking at those indices that track global macro, and listening to traders around the world, it does genuinely appear to be a struggle to make money in FX and rates at the moment. But why is that? We have events – we even have a trend!
Tag: trend following
CTAs have, generally, not been doing well in 2017, judging by the major indices that track their performance. Profit & Loss deputy editor, Galen Stops, relays a conversation that he had with a portfolio manager at one alternative investment firm (with AUM of over $10bn) to illustrate why some investors are very negative about the outlook for investing in these firms right now, even beyond the immediate problem of low returns.
For a more in-depth look at some of the challenges facing CTAs and the trends that are shaping this segment of the market, see Profit & Loss’ previously published piece: CTA Performance: Decline or Dip?
Data from Societe Generale shows that CTA performance was broadly flat in May, as it has been for most of 2017.
Although the SG Trend Indicator illustrated that there were return opportunities for trend followers, up +3.42%, with positive return contributions from four out of the five sectors included in the indictor, the Trend Index was down -0.35% for the month of May.
The Short Term Traders Index fared slightly better and posted a positive return +0.29%, but all SG managed futures indices remain down year-to-date.
Galen Stops looks at why CTA strategies struggled in 2016, examines why there is enthusiasm from these managers bubbling up for 2017 and looks at the trends that are shaping the managed futures industry.
2016 wasn’t exactly a vintage year for CTAs. The SocGen Prime Services SG CTA Index ended the year in negative territory for the first time since 2012, showing returns of -2.89%. Likewise, the BarclayHedge CTA Index was -1.14% for the year. One explanation for why these firms struggled was the continued low interest rate environment, which has kept bond prices low and helped drive up the stock market.
In many ways alpha seeking firms trading FX have endured something of a perfect storm of return reducing conditions over the past few years.
Interest rate differentials are still largely non-existent as central banks persist with low interest rate policies. Many banks have pulled back from both principal risk taking and credit provision in FX, making life harder for their buy side counterparts.
Regulations continue to take their toll on both buy and sell side firms, introducing new cost pressures and causing budgets to be increasingly diverted towards compliance functions.