Thursday, March 11, 2021

Trading Not Going Well

Last three ASX200 trades were stopped out, which is very unusual. The worst in the backtest was two stop outs in a row. Each day the market goes up at the open and puts me into a long position. Then it falls and stops out. Five of the last six trades were losses. I suspect that isn't so unusual. I've done two soybeans trend-following trades and both (long) were losers too. I'm also doing a calendar spread soybean trade which is about a breakeven at this point. On the other hand, we have been doing well in some stocks like Treasury Wine and Domacom.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

ATO Audit of SMSF Applications

I didn't know that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) audits applications for new Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF). This guy from the ATO office in Perth phoned me yesterday and asked me a bunch of questions about my responsibilities as a trustee and the purpose of opening the SMSF and whether the admin company had approached me about opening a fund and how I picked them. He also wanted me to lodge my tax returns from 2002-07. I was in the US then and so not resident in Australia. So, I went on MyGov (the Australian government portal) and submitted a "don't need to submit a tax return" notice for each of those years. He sent me now by email an approval letter confirming that I passed the audit. Initially, I thought it was some scam when he left a message on my phone. But I checked the "switchboard phone number" on an ATO website and it checked out and so I phoned him back. The whole thing didn't sound very "professional".

Sunday, March 07, 2021

February SPI Trading Performance

I made AUD 589 trading ASX 200 futures and CFDs in February. I have now compared my trades to the trades the algorithm specifies. If I had traded one whole SPI contract (rather than varying numbers of Plus500 contracts I would have made AUD 770. But the algorithm just daytrading would have made AUD 4,275. Overnight trading as well had a very negative return for the month (AUD -3,125 if you took an overnight trade every time you were up for the day). So, when I started doing overnight trades, it detracted from my performance. I can also calculate the "slippage". I lost an average of AUD 57 per day due to the spread between buy and sell and inaccuracy in getting in and out of trades at exactly the right time. This is actually less than the spread between buy and sell prices on Plus500 of 3 points or AUD 75. After accounting for slippage, the daytrading only algorithm would have gained AUD 3,062.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Hedge Funds Outperform Again in February


HFRI Equity Hedge leads broad-based gains as retail trading trend expands;
Macro, CTA strategies advance on rates, commodities;
Crypto, Activist, Technology, Energy sub-strategies also lead

CHICAGO, (March 5, 2021) – Hedge funds surged in February to extend January gains as interest rates, commodity prices, and expectations for the reemergence of inflation all increased. The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index® (FWC) gained +4.1 percent in February, while the investable HFRI 500 Fund Weighted Composite Index advanced +3.2 percent, according to data released today by HFR®, the established global leader in the indexation, analysis and research of the global hedge fund industry.

Consistent with the previous month, the HFRI FWC experienced a wide dispersion in constituent performance, as the top decile of the HFRI gained +16.3 percent, while the bottom decile declined -3.1 percent for the month. As reported previously by HFR, total hedge fund capital jumped to $3.6 trillion to begin 2021, a 4Q20 increase of $290 billion, representing the largest quarterly asset growth in industry history. Estimated 4Q20 net asset inflows totaled $3.0 billion, bringing total inflows for the second half of 2020 to an estimated $16.0 billion.

Equity Hedge strategies, which invest long and short across specialized sub-strategies, led February performance as the influence of retail investors increased trading volumes and investors expanded their focus to a wider range of individual equities. The HFRI Equity Hedge (Total) Index surged +4.8 percent for the month, with strong contributions from a wide dispersion of sub-strategy performance led by the high-beta, long-biased Energy, Fundamental Value, and Technology exposures. Following strong January gains, the HFRI EH: Energy/Basic Materials Index surged +9.7 percent in February, while the HFRI EH: Fundamental Value Index spiked +6.4 percent and the HFRI EH: Sector-Technology Index added +4.4 percent.

Event-Driven strategies, which often focus on out of favor, deep value equity strategies and situations, accelerated January gains into February, with the investable HFRI 500 Event-Driven Index surging +2.8 percent for the month, while the HFRI Event-Driven (Total) Index gained +3.6 percent. ED sub-strategy gains were led by Activist, Special Situations, and Credit Arbitrage exposures, strategies which categorically trade in deep value equity situations, including companies which are possible targets for restructuring, acquisitions or investor-driven strategy shifts. The HFRI ED: Activist Index surged +8.3 percent in February, while the HFRI ED: Special Situations Index advanced +4.1 percent, and the HFRI ED: Credit Arbitrage Index added +2.7 percent.

Uncorrelated Macro strategies also posted a strong gain in February, driven by trend-following CTAs and fundamental Commodity-focused strategies. The HFRI Macro (Total) Index jumped +3.6 percent, while the investable HFRI 500 Macro Index spiked +3.7 percent. Driven by strong trends in interest rates, Macro sub-strategy performance was led by the HFRI Macro: Systematic Diversified/CTA Index, which gained +4.4 percent for the month, and the HFRI Macro: Commodity Index, which added +4.1 percent.

The fixed income-based, interest rate-sensitive HFRI Relative Value (Total) Index gained +2.3 percent in February, while the HFRI 500 Relative Value Index advanced +1.5 percent for the month, led by the investable HFRI 500 RV: Volatility Index, which jumped +3.0 percent, and the HFRI 500 RV: Fixed Income-Convertible Arbitrage Index, which advanced +2.4 percent. Extending the January surge, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency exposures continued to deliver strong performance as cryptocurrencies reached record highs and as hedge funds increasingly incorporated related exposures into new and existing fund strategies. The HFR Blockchain Composite Index and HFR Cryptocurrency Index each surged nearly +30.0 percent in February.

Risk Premia and Liquid Alternatives also gained in February, led by multi-asset and commodity exposures. The HFR Bank Systematic Risk Premia Multi-Asset Index advanced +7.9 percent for the month, while the HFR BSRP Commodity Index gained +3.3 percent. The HFRI-I Liquid Alternative UCITS Index advanced +1.05 percent in February, driven by a +1.8 percent gain in the HFRI-I UCITS Event Driven Index.

"Recent hedge fund gains accelerated through February, marking the strongest 4-month period in over 20 years as the drivers of performance widened to include not only Event Driven and Equity Hedge, but also captured strong positive contributions from trend-following Macro and interest rate-sensitive Relative Value Arbitrage strategies", stated Kenneth J. Heinz, President of HFR. "New stimulus measures, increasing vaccinations, and uncertainty with regards to immigration and energy policy have shifted macroeconomic and geopolitical volatility to include not only the single stock or asset trends from concentrated, increased retail trading but also cryptocurrency trading, energy exposure and interest rate/inflation sensitivity. Institutional investors are likely to continue expanding allocations to leading hedge fund managers as a mechanism to gain specialized exposure to these and other powerful trends through mid-2021".

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

February 2021 Report

The month ended quite turbulently, but stock markets were still up for the month. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7663 to USD 0.7737. The MSCI World Index rose 2.35%, the S&P 500 by 2.76%, and the ASX 200 rose 1.65%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.65% in Australian Dollar terms or 2.68% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained only 0.23% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 1.05% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed or matched all our benchmarks. The S&P 500 isn't a benchmark.

Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms): 
Hedge funds added the most to performance and gold detracted the most. Things that worked well this month:
  • Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX), Regal Funds (RF1.AX), and Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX) were the top three performers gaining AUD 20k, 18k, and 11k, respectively. In other notable gains, we gained AUD 5k in Treasury Wine (now a 2% of net worth position) and Winton Global Alpha gained for a change, up AUD 3k.
What really didn't work:
  • Gold was the worst performer, giving back AUD 30k of gains.
The investment performance statistics for the last five years are:
The first two rows are our unadjusted performance numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We have the desired asymmetric capture for all three indices now and positive alpha compared to all of them.

We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. Real assets (real estate and art) are the asset class that is furthest from their target allocation (7.2% of total assets too little) followed by bonds (2.9% too much):


On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:

  • I sold my USD 25k of Virgin Australia bonds for 8.125 cents on the dollar. With Australian borders closed longer than we would have expected at the beginning of the year, I guess the company's financial situation will be worse than they expected when they told us we would likely get 9 cents.
  • Prospect Capital called its baby bonds (PBB) early, resulting in another USD 25k reduction in our bond exposure.
  • I started systematically daytrading ASX200 CFDs and futures....  I made a little money, just under AUD 600. I also started trading soybean futures using my version of the turtle model. This system doesn't trade that often. It made one trade which was stopped out for a loss.
  • Two days before the earnings release, I sold 2000 of our Treasury Wine shares (TWE.AX) as I was anticipating some turbulence. The next day the price fell sharply and I bought them back almost a dollar lower. By the end of the day the price recovered. On the earnings day not much happened. Then the day after earnings the stock price rose 17% on a broker upgrade and a positive article in the Fin Review. After that there was more turbulence and I adjusted the positions a little
  • I invested USD 10k in another painting at Masterworks. I now have USD 60k invested in 6 paintings.