How fat tails could mean fat profits

The CBOE Short-Term Volatility Index (VXST) measures volatility over a 9-days. In effect, it's the 9-day VIX, which measures 1-month volatility.   VXST closed at 21.17 last week. indicating that the market expects an annualized volatility of 21.17% over the next 9-days. When I translate that to a weekly volatility by taking the 52nd root...

American confidence with Chinese characteristics?

Ed Yardeni recently highlighted the surge in small business confidence, earnings and employment plans as part of a scenario of what could go right.   Beneath the surface, there were a number of contradictions that were evocative of official Chinese economic statistics. A confidence bifurcation The first problem is how consumer and business confidence is...

How far can stock prices fall in a bear market?

One of the most frequently asked questions from last week's post (see Major market top ahead: My inner investor turns cautious) was my downside objective for stock prices. While technical analysis could highlight a possible trigger for a bear phase, it is less reliable for quantifying downside risk. Assuming the trigger for a bear market is...

What you may not know about the Smart Money Index

This is one in an occasional series of articles highlighting hidden investing factors. For the previous article in the series, please see What you may not know about small cap stocks. There has been some buzz in social media about the following chart that correlates the Fed's balance sheet with the Smart Money Index (SMI)....

What you may not know about small cap stocks

This is one in an occasional series of articles highlighting the hidden investing factor exposures, starting with small cap stocks. Small caps have been on an absolute tear lately, both on an absolute basis and relative to large caps.     Does that mean you should jump on the small cap momentum train? Momentum is...

Offbeat Thursday and Friday forecasts

Brett Steenberger recently warned that traders about trading on noise, which is advice to which I wholeheartedly agree: In other words, before we can determine whether or not we have an edge (in systematic or discretionary trading), we need to establish knowledge. A theory explains how and why something occurs. Testing of historical data can...

Why you shouldn’t get wedded to any market indicator

Over the years, I have had a number of discussions with traders who have religiously embraced specific trading systems and investment disciplines. This is a cautionary tale of how systems fail. Charlie Bilello won the NAAIM Wagner Award for his work on the lumber/gold ratio: Lumber’s sensitivity to housing, a key source of domestic economic...

The post-FANG market beaters hiding in plain sight

Mid-week market update: It is encouraging that the stock market held up well in the face of bad news on global trade. Global markets adopted a risk-off tone on the news of Chinese trade retaliation, but the SPX managed to hold a key support level and rally through a downtrend line.     Looking over...

Did risk-parity funds crash the bond market?

When the markets crash unexpectedly, everyone is on the lookup for culprits. One of the leading theories behind the latest downdraft in stock prices is the rise in bond yields, which spooked the stock market. Derivative analysts have pointed the finger at Risk-Parity funds as the leading actors in the bond market rout. They contend...

My 2017 report card

Preface: Explaining our market timing models We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade. The...

Should you be worried about an elevated Shiller P/E?

In my discussions with investors, the Cyclically Adjusted P/E (CAPE), or Shiller P/E, has come up numerous times as a risk for the U.S. stock market. The current reading of 32x is only exceeded by the peak during the NASDAQ Bubble, and it is higher than the levels seen before the Crash of 1929. Does...

Embrace the Blow-off (but with a stop-loss discipline)

Preface: Explaining our market timing models We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade. The...

The VIX also rises

Deep in the recesses of my memory from my youth, I recall reading an Ernest Hemingway quote that went something like this: How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly. From The VIX Also Rises The VIX closed at an all-time low last week. Anyone who bought volatility in the last couple of...

NAAIM buy signal update

I had highlighted an unusual contrarian buy signal in my last post (see Round number-itis at 2500). NAAIM sentiment, which is reported weekly, turned anomalously bearish last week and fell below its lower Bollinger Band. Past episodes of such occurrences have turned out to be very good contrarian buy signals.     The reading last...

The surprising conclusion from top-down vs. bottom-up EPS analysis

Mid-week market update: Business Insider recently highlighted an earnings warning from Strategas Research Partners about possible earnings disappointment for the remainder of 2017 and early 2018. Expect a deceleration in EPS growth because of base effects: A big part of Strategas' argument stems from the fact that the period against which current earnings are compared...

Correction ahead

Mid-week market update: Narrow trading ranges are often technical signs of sideways consolidation, followed by further upside. In this case, bulls are likely to be disappointed, as market internals point to a correction ahead.     I am reiterating my tactically cautious view that has been in place for the last two weeks (see Curb...

How Covel inadvertently exposed the chasm between investors and traders

As a rule, I don't do book reviews. However, regular readers know that I am a big fan of trend following models and I use them extensively in my asset allocation work. When a publicist offered a free review copy of Michael Covel's Trend Following, 5th Edition: How to Make a Fortune in Bull, Bear...

Goldman’s “The death of value” and what being contrarian means

Recently, Ben Snider at Goldman Sachs published a report entitled "The Death of Value", which suggested that the value style is likely to face further short-term headwinds. Specifically, Snider referred to the Fama-French value factor, which had seen an unbelievable run from 1940 to 2010 (charts via Value Walk).     Goldman Sachs went on...

Peak smart beta?

A recent comment by Michael Mauboussin of Credit Suisse that nailed the dilemma of active managers, namely that using traditional approaches to alpha generation is akin to mining lower and lower grade ore: Exhibit 1 shows that the standard deviation of excess returns has trended lower for U.S. large capitalization mutual funds over the past five...