Tactical Asset Allocation – August 2017

Tactical Asset Allocation Strategy Update

Performance

Global Core is up 0.02% for August and up 7.37% YTD

Treasuries have been the big gainer this month while Emerging Markets is up slightly. Domestic US Big Cap and International Equity were both down slightly. All-in-all a not unpleasant outcome considering the increased volatility during the month.

Market

US and Global markets corrected during August while fixed income has edged upward. There is considerable uncertainty regarding future direction; however the Bears have, so far, failed to capitalize on apparent opportunities.

New Strategy for Hostile Markets

I recently completed a Featured Article covering the Market Risk Model complete with graphics showing historical and market condition segmented performance.

As a trader, during the 2000-2002 and 2007-2009 Bear Markets, I made some very large gains (20% during 2008) shorting equity futures. But I am no longer a trader and the TAAS Strategies are my primary investing activity. Yet it is very clear to me that a Bear Market lies somewhere ahead in the not too distant future and I'm not keen on spending a couple of years hunkered down making a few percent with the Core Strategy.

Bear Markets decline at roughly twice the speed that Bull Markets rally. The steep slope and acceleration should make for easy money for investors ... but they don't. The reason is that Bear Markets are subject to very short, very steep, and very violent rallies which are certain to violate any safety mechanisms put in place to insure against steep losses.

I know because, aside from trading Bear Markets, I've spent a good part of three years developing and testing hundreds of potential Bear Market TAA strategies which relied upon shorting equities. None of them met my personal requirements for low volatility and low drawdowns. The need to develop an effective strategy has become more urgent as the market has moved into more dangerous valuation levels.

The results from the Global Satellite (Hostile) basket have been integrated with the Performance Tables. You can see the back tested results here in the Strategies Performance Tables (look for the table labeled "Hostile" under Global Satellite). The Hostile Strategy deployed 3 times during the past 10 years for one Bear Market and two Corrections. In each case the Strategy delivered positive returns with very little drawdown. Overall, during the time the Hostile Strategy was deployed, it earned a CAGR of 14.47% with a Maximum Monthly Drawdown of 4.98%.

While I would love to see a 14% CAGR during the next Bear Market, depressed interest rates (as compared to 2007) argue for goals which are considerably more modest. I will be extremely satisfied if the Strategy can generate annual returns of 5% to 7% during the next Bear Market.

Earl Adamy

Tactical Asset Allocation Strategy Performance

Global Strategy (Conservative)

Month: 0.02% gain
Year-to-date: 7.37% gain
Full cycle-to-date (Sep 2007): 13.83% CAGR, 5.87% Max Monthly Drawdown

Global Strategy (Aggressive)

Month: 0.02% gain
Year-to-date: 7.37% gain
Full cycle-to-date (Sep 2007): 17.51% CAGR, 8.21% Max Monthly Drawdown

Tactical Asset Allocation Fund Basket Performance

Global Core

Month-to-date: 0.02% gain
Year-to-date: 7.37% gain
Full cycle-to-date (Sep 2007): 10.15% CAGR, 6.53% Max Monthly Drawdown

Global Satellite (includes Favorable & Hostile)

Month-to-date: hibernating since Nov 2014
Year-to-date: hibernating since Nov 2014
Full cycle-to-date (Sep 2007): 21.93% [email protected]*, 8.21% Max Monthly Drawdown

*CAGR for the Favorable and Hostile Market Conditions during which Global Satellite was invested

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I will be rolling out upgrades to the Tactical Model and Adaptive Strategies beginning with the November 29 rebalance for the month of December. In each case, the focus has been on improving control over the upper bounds of portfolio volatility, improving the consistency of annual returns, and on reducing fund turnover.

In order to provide the fullest possible disclosure, the Chart and Table displays on the website will include tables for both the original (labeled “Repl Dec 2019)” and upgraded Strategy beginning with the next update in early December.

The primary benefit of minor changes to Adaptive Global is reduction in both Standard Deviation of Monthly Returns and the Ulcer Index:.

  • Fund basket and condition eligibility: no change was made to fund baskets or condition eligibility
  • Fund selection: no change to fund selection method (Adaptive Dynamic Momentum)
  • Weighting of selected funds: Volatility Weighting was replaced with Limited Portfolio Volatility Weighting which is employed to cap the expected total portfolio volatility when high volatility funds (especially equities) are used. This slightly reduces both risk and return.
  • Position Optimization: Upgraded which slightly improves holding periods and performance.

Full cycle: CAGR decreased slightly from 15.0% to 14.6%;  Max Monthly Drawdown declined from 8.7% to 7.9%; and the Up/Down Ratio decreased slightly from 228.7% to 228.4%. The Ulcer Index declined from 3.7% to 3.6% and Standard Deviation of Monthly Returns declined from 9.5% to 9.1% reflecting improved consistency of returns.

A Caveat

A 35+ year secular bull market in both equities and bonds began in 1982. The last cyclical bull market in equities (and to a lesser extent, bonds) began 10 years ago. Returns during these periods have been historically exceptional. Market returns for the next 10 years are highly unlikely to approach those of the past 10. In fact, there is at least some evidence that market returns have a high probability of being significantly lower and that bonds and equities (which have risen together) may actually begin working at cross purposes.

Investors should not use the statistics shown for our strategies to establish expectations of specific levels of returns or drawdowns. Investors should, however, appreciate that we believe the principles which underlie the Tactical Adaptive Global, Tactical Adaptive Income, and Tactical Adaptive Innovation Strategies are enduring enough to significantly outperform the market in the future, both in lowering risk and in improving returns.

I will be rolling out upgrades to the Tactical Model and Adaptive Strategies beginning with the November 29 rebalance for the month of December. In each case, the focus has been on improving control over the upper bounds of portfolio volatility, improving the consistency of annual returns, and on reducing fund turnover.

In order to provide the fullest possible disclosure, the Chart and Table displays on the website will include tables for both the original (labeled “Repl Dec 2019)” and upgraded Strategy beginning with the next update in early December.

The primary benefit of changes to Adaptive Income is a broadening of the fund basket and reduction in both Standard Deviation of Monthly Returns and the Ulcer Index:

  • Fund basket and condition eligibility: the number of fixed income ETFs was increased from 5 to 6 to broaden the basket to include an investment grade ETF.
  • Fund selection: no change to fund selection method (Adaptive Dynamic Momentum)
  • Weighting of selected funds: Adaptive Income employed a single selection, 100% weighting to the best performing fund. Limited Portfolio Volatility Weighting is employed to cap the expected total portfolio volatility when higher volatility funds (especially high yield) are used. This forces the allocation across a second, lower volatility fund when the cap is exceeded.
  • Position Optimization: Upgraded which slightly improves holding periods and performance.
  • Full Cycle: CAGR increased slightly from 10.6% to 11.1%; Max Monthly Drawdown increased from 2.9% to 3.8% however Max Daily Drawdown remains unchanged at 7.1%; and the Up/Down Ratio rose from 503.0% to 556.9%. The Ulcer Index declined from 1.3% to 1.2% and Standard Deviation of Monthly Returns declined from 5.6% to 5.1% reflecting improved consistency of returns.

A Caveat

A 35+ year secular bull market in both equities and bonds began in 1982. The last cyclical bull market in equities (and to a lesser extent, bonds) began 10 years ago. Returns during these periods have been historically exceptional. Market returns for the next 10 years are highly unlikely to approach those of the past 10. In fact, there is at least some evidence that market returns have a high probability of being significantly lower and that bonds and equities (which have risen together) may actually begin working at cross purposes.

Investors should not use the statistics shown for our strategies to establish expectations of specific levels of returns or drawdowns. Investors should, however, appreciate that we believe the principles which underlie the Tactical Adaptive Global, Tactical Adaptive Income, and Tactical Adaptive Innovation Strategies are enduring enough to significantly outperform the market in the future, both in lowering risk and in improving returns.

 

I will be rolling out upgrades to the Tactical Model and Adaptive Strategies beginning with the November 29 rebalance for the month of December. In each case, the focus has been on improving control over the upper bounds of portfolio volatility, improving the consistency of annual returns, and on reducing fund turnover.

In order to provide the fullest possible disclosure, the Chart and Table displays on the website will include tables for both the original (labeled “Repl Dec 2019)” and upgraded Strategy beginning with the next update in early December.

This upgrade to Adaptive Innovation improves performance while significantly reducing volatility.

  • Fund basket and condition eligibility: The existing long duration Treasury ETF was added to the eligible funds for Balanced conditions. This allows strongly performing Treasuries to complete effectively with the Innovation equities for selection. A short duration Treasury ETF was added to provide a higher yielding alternative to cash.
  • Fund selection: no change to fund selection method (Adaptive Dynamic Momentum)
  • Weighting of selected funds: Volatility Weighting was replaced with Limited Portfolio Volatility Weighting which is employed to cap the expected total portfolio volatility when the higher volatility Innovation funds are used. This forces the allocation across a second or third fund when the volatility of the primary fund(s) exceeds the cap.
  • Position Optimization: Upgraded which made no change in holding periods and performance.
  • Partial cycle: CAGR increased slightly from 26.3% to 28.4%,  Max Monthly Drawdown and Maximum Daily Drawdown remained unchanged at 12.2% and 19.2% respectively; and the Up/Down Ratio increased from 280.2% to 336.9%. The Ulcer Index declined from 5.6% to 5.1% and Standard Deviation of Monthly Returns declined from 15.7% to 14.9% reflecting improved consistency of returns.

A Caveat

A 35+ year secular bull market in both equities and bonds began in 1982. The last cyclical bull market in equities (and to a lesser extent, bonds) began 10 years ago. Returns during these periods have been historically exceptional. Market returns for the next 10 years are highly unlikely to approach those of the past 10. In fact, there is at least some evidence that market returns have a high probability of being significantly lower and that bonds and equities (which have risen together) may actually begin working at cross purposes.

Investors should not use the statistics shown for our strategies to establish expectations of specific levels of returns or drawdowns. Investors should, however, appreciate that we believe the principles which underlie the Tactical Adaptive Global, Tactical Adaptive Income, and Tactical Adaptive Innovation Strategies are enduring enough to significantly outperform the market in the future, both in lowering risk and in improving returns.