Category Archives: strategy

Intro to rules based Investing – Why follow an investment strategy?

1. Basics

What is rules based Investing?

In rules-based-investing we define a clear set of rules. These rules comprise an investment strategy. Here is an example strategy:

“At the first day of the month, look at the performance of bonds versus stocks by calulating the 3-month performances of two exchange traded funds, SPY (the SPDR S&P 500 ETF) and TLT (the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF).
If SPY outperforms, then re-balance the portfolio to 60% SPY, 40% TLT. If not, rebalance to 40% SPY, 60% TLT.”

Rules based Investment Strategy SPY TLT
Rules based Investment Strategy SPY TLT

 Why follow an Investment Strategy?

 It eliminates our main weakness, emotion.

Developed through years of evolution, our basic human instincts are necessary for our survival. Keeping with the laws of the jungle, these instincts push us to run when in danger and charge when we see opportunity. The stock market, much like a casino, is built to take advantage of these instincts. Investors, if left to their primitive fear/greed instincts, tend to buy high and sell low.

 

 

read the rest of the article here.

The end of the end of month strategy

Has the end of month strategy stopped working?

Historically and up to 2013, equities have exhibited a positive bias during the end of the month.
Here is an example of buying the SPY etf on the first down-day after the 23rd and selling on the first up-day of the next month. Trading is at the same day close.EOM_All

This has been well documented in academic papers as well as blogs. The main reason quoted for this persistent bias has been end-of-month window dressing.

As one of my favorite author/blogger/trader, Mr. Grøtte, has also recently blogged the EOM bias is no more.

EOM_13-15

Why is this important to know?

A lot of investors re-balance monthly. The day of the re-balance used to be somewhat important as there was an EOM bias. So it was better to ‘buy’ at the end of the month rather than at the beginning of the month. As of late (2013) this is less true.

What this means in practice is that the specific timing for re-balancing monthly strategies may be less important than it used to be.

       
//Amibroker code:
Buy=Day()>=23 AND C<Ref(C,-1) ;//AND C>MA(C,100);
Sell= (Day()<11 AND C>Ref(C,-1));
SetTradeDelays(0,0,0,0);
slip=0.00;
BuyPrice=c+slip;
SellPrice=c-slip;
posqty=Param("nUMBER OF pOSITIONS",1,1,30,1);
SetOption("MaxOpenPositions",posqty);
PositionSize=- 98/posqty;
bars = 10; // exit after 10 bars
ApplyStop( stopTypeNBar, stopModeBars, bars, True );

Will We Ever Kill The Bug? The Enhanced Permanent Portfolio

Will we ever kill the bug

There is something very attractive about vintage items that just won’t die.
 

They just keep coming back. Same philosophy but better up-to-date technology.

It’s not just cars. It’s investment strategies, too.

Vintage strategies are often simple, easy to execute and provide amble ‘out-of-sample’ data. In other words one can see how they performed in real life years after they have been proposed. And like the VW bug, they are “safe” choices. Tried and true.

Can you imagine a 1965 VW running in the Autobahn? 
Although the essence counts for a lot, for the car to survive at today’s highway speeds the tech needs to be up to date.

So let’s take my favorite oldie and bring it up to speed:

Harry Browne’s Permanent Portfolio investment strategy.

From Investopedia:

… Browne believed that each of the aforementioned four asset classes would thrive in one of the four possible macroeconomic scenarios that exist.

  • Stocks would thrive during periods of economic prosperity.
  • Bonds would do well in deflation and acceptably well during periods of prosperity.
  • Gold during periods of high inflation would rapidly increase in value as the only true defense against a deteriorating currency.
  • Cash would act as a buffer against losses during a routine recession or tight-money episode, and would act well in deflationary times.

So let’s see how it has performed.

The original rules:
25% in a stock market Index (SP500)
25% in Treasuries.
25% in Gold.
25% in Cash or similar.

Permanent portfolio version backtest

Not bad. Annual return is 7.1% and maximum draw-down comes in at 17.84% since 1992.

For a far more detailed analysis of the so called “PP” you can see Gestaltu’s excellent “PP Shakedown” series as well as Scott’s Investments analysis. There are many other articles and analysis that serve as inspiration to this article.

Building a new investment strategy.

So let’s update this permanent portfolio strategy by using some recent tactics. All further rules assume monthly rebalance.

Read the rest of the article about how to improve on Harry Browne ‘s Permanent Portfolio at the Logical Invest’s whitepaper section or track performance at the Logical Invest site.

Strategies on The Cloud: TAA on Google Docs

Did you want to have a strategy on the cloud that monitors the market and updates you on new Buy/Sell signals (as well as number of shares, etc)  by email. Did you want to run it on best of breed “always ON” servers with free and accurate data?
How much would that set you back?Well, Nada! Courtesy of Google.This post will guide you through coding a simple Tactical Asset Allocation on Google’s Docs.
You need:
1. A Google account.
2. Google Docs.The system is similar to Faber’s TAA model using 5 Etfs.: SPY,TLT,VNQ,EEM,DBC
We buy or sell at the beginning of the month ONLY.
If Close > 200-moving Average then we buy the ETF.
If Close < 200-moving Average then we sell the ETF.

Pseudo Code:
If TodayIsNewMonth AND CloseETF>MA(200) Then Buy
If TodayIsNewMonth AND CloseETF<MA(200) Then Sell

Let’s get started. Go to Google Docs and create a new SpreadSheet. Call it TAA_5.
Once the spreadsheet is open in your browser, go up to the menu and select Tools–>Script Editor…
This should open a new script Editor. Select “SpreadSheet” as your project.

TTA5g-300x152

Lets start coding.
Google Docs scripting uses a version of JavaScript which seems fairly easy for non programmers.

Continue reading Strategies on The Cloud: TAA on Google Docs

Selling Puts on Breakouts

If someone asked you to sell Puts on the SP500 and hold to expiration, when would you sell them? On a correction or a bullish breakout?

This is a strategy that I came about by accident. I actually meant to do the exact opposite of what I ended up testing…  I can’t say I would trade this as-is but there are some lessons to be learned here, at least for me.

The rules:

When SPY makes a new 15-day high, sell a next-month out-of-the-money PUT.
Pick the farthest strike whose corresponding option price is larger than $0.60.
So if SPY trades at 140, we would try selling the 125 strike. If it’s priced at $0.10, we check a higher strike, i.e.,126, 127,128… until we get to a strike whose option price equals or is greater than $0.60.
If the option looses more than 30% of it’s value at the close of the day (not intraday), we sell it on the next day at the close.
Otherwise hold to expiration.

Annual Return: 11.73%
DrawDown: -10.11%

Just to get some context:
You need to contrast the above chart to the typical Put-selling strategy. High win ratios (i.e., winners > 80% of the time) but when we have loosers, they are usually huge ones.

PnL of typical option selling strategy

Thoughts and Conclusion:
Having tried different versions of strategies that sell naked options, I can say that I would recommend against it. And if you must, please try to somehow backtest the strategy first.
My results have been mediocre at best. The risk of being short an option is just too massive. One loss may cripple months of winning. Stops may help but they tend to level the winning ratio and often cause multi-year flat equity curves.

Another conclusion is that complex option strategies can be thought of as  multi-strategy (MS) systems. In other words, a Buy-Write strategy, where one buys SPY and sells a call against it is nothing more than:
Strategy 1: A (very simple) long only  SPY stock strategy.
Strategy 2. A (very simple) short only call strategy.

Similarly, an Iron Condor is a simplified 4 strategy MS system.
All this is still work in progress as other factors like early exercise are being looked at.

What is interesting about the above strategy is that :
1. It’s not intuitive (to me at least) that one would sell Puts on Bullish Breakouts*.
2. It limits draw-downs by not triggering unless we have a breakout on the long side. So if the market falls and keeps falling, this strategy stays flat.
3. A 30% stop on the option is a very tight stop. It means that  even a small move against us will immediately trigger an exit. On the other hand, by exiting on the next day close, we take advantage of mean-reversion. So if a 1% move down of SPY triggers the exit, chances are the next day will be an up day and we would sell (cover actually) at this up day’s close.

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*This is counter-intuitive since a bullish breakout would imply a collapse of implied volatility premium on the option to be sold. It’s a proposition to sell on low premiums. Intuitively one would sell on bearish breakouts, where implied volatility surges causing the put to be more expensive (and us collecting a higher premium).