Rising Interest Rates: An Opportunity For Trend Followers?

January 8, 2018

The Fed appears committed to rising rates as long as the economy and inflation cooperate. Some people in the investing community have raised concerns that trend followers will not be able to perform as well when interest rates rise due to the negative carry when holding short positions in bond futures. They believe the main reason trend followers have performed so well since the early 1980’s is because they rode the long side of the massive bond price trend. And if that gets taken away then trend followers lose their golden goose and won’t perform well.

Their point on trading the short side of bonds might be true, but they seem to forget that trend followers diversify like lunatics and have the ability to profit from trends in other areas like commodities, stocks and currencies when rates rise. Trend followers don’t rely solely on one market or asset class to provide all of the profits. If they don’t make as much money from shorting bonds, fine; there are many other markets to profit from.

In this episode, I take a look at trend following performance during rising rate environments over the past 50+ years and if significant trends occur during these periods.



The Bitcoin Bubble in Perspective

December 21, 2017

I’ve been receiving lots of texts and calls from friends, and people I haven’t heard from in a while, regarding Bitcoin — what my general thoughts are; whether to buy it or stay away; is it in a bubble or not?

So I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at some of the biggest bubbles over the past 40 years. We’ve seen bubbles in may different asset classes — stocks, agriculture, metals and energy.

I’m sure there are few I’m missing, but this is just to put Bitcoin’s current price action in perspective versus past bubbles.



Superordinate Goal - The Manager & Investor Relationship

December 12, 2017

In psychology, superordinate goals refer to goals that require the cooperation of two or more people or groups to achieve, which usually results in rewards to the groups.

Good investing requires a good system, good markets and discipline.

Often enough, it's the discipline part that ruins us. In my experience, there's many different systems that make money and, sure, markets can suck for a while but they eventually come around.

Maintaining discipline is very tough to maintain over time. When you throw investors, employees and family into the mix it becomes that much tougher. 

To achieve long-term success in the markets, managers and clients (and family, employees, etc) need to work together. Managers need to communicate with everyone about how they invest and why they do it that particular way; also, give frequent updates on why they're winning or losing money and show examples of investments they've made so their support group can understand what's going on.

When investors are left in the dark and judge their managers nothing but on monthly or quarterly performance, then it's only a matter of time before they quit because a losing streak will come eventually.



Questions That Don’t Matter

December 6, 2017

"How much money have you made?"

"Where did you get in?"

People think these questions are important because they stimulate hopeful feelings of celebration (we've made a lot) and intelligence (we got in before others were talking about it).

But these questions don't have anything to do with doing the right thing today.


It’s Not If But When

November 14, 2017

Risk is like gravity — it always there, but you don’t always feel or see it.

Today, we’re in between market storms. People have become more and more comfortable and complacent during the 8-year bull market. The relatively painless uptrend has lulled people into a false sense of security.

Even Janet Yellen says she doesn’t believe there will be another financial crisis in our lifetimes.

Collectively, we’re getting used to the way things have been recently — rising stock prices, low and declining volatility and little to no need for protection investments like hedge funds and macro CTAs.

I’m scared we’re getting used to things just in time for everything to change again.



Quitting Before the Trend Occurs

October 24, 2017

Lately, many markets remind me of the 2011–2014 U.S. Dollar — not really going up or down but oscillating in a sideways manner. Many currencies, precious metals, energies, bonds and agriculture markets have behaving similarly.

The past few years have been particularly frustrating and annoying. But I believe we’re at a point again where trend following traders and investors are feeling doubt about whether to take the next trade and stick with the system.

The risk of quitting during drawdowns is that you do not benefit from the next round of positive performance when trends come back. The risk of not getting back in exists in all investments.

Many investors are still living with the frustration of not getting back into the stock market when the trend reversed in 2009–2010. Those who quit on trend following now, I believe, will likely experience a similar frustration.


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The Occasional Mistake

September 13, 2017

All fund managers have a system. Some have it in their gut and head while others code it into a computer. After coming to terms with a system, the manager must follow it religiously in order to maximize results and perform within investor expectations.

I believe the main reason why benchmarks outperform managers is due to their lack of discipline.

Medium post: https://medium.com/@mmelissinos/the-occasional-mistake-b1d02926fb95


Warren Buffet’s Worst Loss Came During the Dot-Com Bubble

August 18, 2017

Buffett suffered a 49% loss from Jun 1998 to Mar 2000. At the same time, the NASDAQ rose 140% and SP500 rose 28%. Despite heavy losses and public ridicule, Buffett stuck to his guns and wouldn’t touch internet stocks. Buffett’s ability to stay disciplined might be more admirable than his analytical skill.

At the time, I’m sure people were wondering if Buffett had lost his golden touch or if he would ever outperform the market again. A near 50% loss for a stocks investor during the biggest bull market in history doesn’t inspire confidence. But he had the last laugh after the bubble burst, gaining 80% over the next two years while the NASDAQ lost 72% and SP500 lost 28%.



The Risks of Copying Others

August 15, 2017

As a copier, you cement your position of always following the crowd and competitors.

You forgo understanding how the product you’re copying actually works; the reasons behind it’s design; the problems it addresses; why it performs the way it does.

You blindly put your faith in the person or product you’re copying and, thus, give up your ability to develop and monitor expectations.