MARKET OBSERVATIONS

Monthly market essays from the perspective of a multi-disciplined trader with 30 years of experience.




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Dispersion Part 1: Multiple Fronts
2020-05

Everywhere we look these days we continue to see examples of widespread dispersion of prices, or large divergence from average. In this 2-part series we investigate why manager performance in the CTA space has been so widely scattered through the first half of this year.

Now Comes the Hard Part
2020-04

Is there an industry out there that has not been affected by our nation's biggest challenge since WWII? Will our economy spin out of control into Great Depression II, or respond with vigor and vengeance? Perhaps something in-between? Opportunities exist everywhere right now and will be creating winners and losers. Nobody knows what comes next...

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
2020-03

How you manage yourself during a panic tells you a lot about your character. The same might be said to be true for your investments.

Mad Fold-In
2020-02

It took a global pandemic to call the Central Banks out on their excesses, and all we got was this lousy T-shirt.

Orographic Precipitation
2020-01

There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The windward and leeward sides of a mountain look a lot different from each other.

American Pastime ( 3 of 3 )
2019-12

A 3 part serial essay on the state of markets as this decade draws to a close.

American Pastime ( 2 of 3 )
2019-11

A 3 part serial essay on the state of markets as this decade draws to a close.

American Pastime ( 1 of 3 )
2019-10

A 3 part serial essay on the state of markets as this decade draws to a close.

Inflection Points and Defining the Prevailing Market Regime
2019-09

Following an unusually sharp collapse during the past month, our measure of market Trend activity has hit a new multi-year low. This may represent a good opportunity to assess your portfolio and risk profile.

Uncomfortable Equilibrium
2019-08

Our baseline trend strategy is currently flat in the S&P 500. This will not always be the case, and as a shrewd investor you should be ready for the next move when it becomes clear.

S&P 500 and the 2.62 Fibonacci Projection
2019-07

The equity market may well be at a key level which puts it at risk.

The Role of 72
2019-06

Sock it away, and let compound interest do its thing, they said...

Oops, they did it again
2019-05

Once again, the launch of a new futures contract on the CME signals trouble for the underlying market, this time in the micro space.

Changes in the Game
2019-04

One of my mentors has seen 7 distinct cycles in 50 years of trading experience, and reminds me that I am merely a member of a herd, that capital seeks quality and safety, and to always be on the lookout for changes in the game.

10cl
2019-03

The addition of just a small amount of "Deep Purple" concentrate dominates the bottle of wine. SImilarly, the cap-weighted, float-adjusted market indices remain at the mercy of just a small portion of the 505 issues in the S&P 500 basket. Be mindful of what you are drinking.

Roll Tack
2019-02

Tell me again, just how does a yacht racing technique apply to capital markets?

Spark Joy
2019-01

It's a simple question we ask: are our positions bringing us joy?

Both a Strength and a Curse
2018-12

Have you been blindly following along?

Jubilee
2018-11

In the Old Testament, after 7 cycles of 7 years, debts were forgiven and slaves freed. We imagine this process promoted a natural cleansing cycle.

The Power of Not
2018-10

Markets tend to take the stairs up and the elevator down.

Just as tasty; half the calories
2018-09

Efficient Frontier Analysis of the SP500 and Totem Orca Program

Right Church, Wrong Pew
2018-08

Trend Following is not dead; it has just been hiding out in illiquid, unregulated and exotic places while Central Banks have their way.

All about the Denominator
2018-07

Apple hits the $1T Market-Cap level and 42% of its price gains since 2013 are from debt-fueled buybacks.

The Struggle is Real
2018-06

You do not need to hold a PhD in Mathematics to see that something is changing.

Momentum Ignitors
2018-05

In fiat currencies, there is no such thing as "fundamentals".

False Idols
2018-04

Accountability is at the heart of democracy.

Trade, Cryptos, Privacy and the Cost of Capital
2018-03

Currently, many issues weigh on Capital Markets, increasing the possibility that the prevailing bias is no longer supporting the prevailing trend.

Small Potatoes
2018-02

Crowded trades were forced to exit in February revealing who has been leaning heavily on the kindness of central-bank strangers.

Above All Else, Do No Harm
2018-01

Avoiding the big down moves may be more important than missing out on the big up moves.

Risk Mitigation with a 70/30 Investment
2017-12

Risk mitigation for your traditional stock / bond / real-estate portfolio by adding the Pure Trend Zero-Equity Orca Program.

8.7 Years and Counting
2017-11

A traditional 60/40 stock/bond portfolio has not endured without a 10% drawdown for as long a period as the period immediately before the Great Depression.

The Transfer of Risk
2017-10

With the launch of the FANG+ futures this week and BitCoin in the coming quarter, it is maybe worth taking a quick stroll down memory lane.

Slither.io
2017-09

An online multi-user game played by my kid serves as an example of market behaviour and available strategies used by participants of different sizes.

Supertankers cut their engines 15 miles from shore
2017-08

Supertankers will cut their engines 15 miles from shore. They are so large and have so much stored momentum that it takes 20 minutes for them to stop, and they require further outside assistance to maneuver when docking. Debt-fueled Capital Markets may be subject to similar forces.

Not Mutually Exclusive
2017-07

July reinforced the point that, while our trend approach tends to work well during periods of equity market stress, our uncorrelated strategies don't rely upon such conditions.

The further away we get, the worse it will look
2017-06

At least for now, the visit to the important technical level in the SP500 must be considered an abject failure. But, calling market tops - especially in the equities - is a difficult business.

They don't ring a bell at the top
2017-05

A handful of stocks are recently accounting for the bulk of the gains in the equity indices as investors have eschewed active investing for that of really inexpensive passive investing. Just be very careful around these current important technical levels. Always have a plan just in case things don't work out as you might have hoped.

The First Saturday in May
2017-04

How I won $18k on a $144 bet. Read more about it here

It wasn't raining when Noah built his ark
2017-03

Although Past Performance is No Indication of Future Results, our program's return profile tends to thrive during Stock Market Declines and periods of high market volatility, offering sophisticated investors a cost-effective hedge for their traditional stock/bond/real estate portfolios.

The Last Mile Question
2017-02

Using the 1980 low and the Y2K high, the SP500 respected the 50% and 61.8% retracements absolutely. As we get to within striking distance of the accompanying 1.618 projection, how will equity markets behave around this key level amidst relentless fervor and ongoing shift to passive index?

Regime Changes
2017-01

Since October, our Trend Index went from horrible, to terrific, and back to horrible.  This price action will likely be reflected in our peer group returns for Jan, and could change on "Any Given 140 Characters".

Time To Recovery
2016-12

No sooner had we discussed how "good" the invisible hand has been at staving off sharp equity index declines and the team from JP Morgan comes up with this gem of a chart.

Make Trading Great Again
2016-11

Arguably the largest upset in American political history has unleashed volatility across the board as global market participants begin guessing as to what new policies and actions affecting trade and markets are coming our way.

Try not to suck
2016-10

108 years later the Law of Large Numbers finally catches up for the Cubs, and Hell Freezes Over. What other surprises are headed our way?

270 to Win
2016-09

In more than 4,250 observations since the year 2000, our Trend Index has only been as low as 23 on 150 days. This rare occurrence is often (but not always) followed by large profitable moves.

The Confidence Game
2016-08

For some time now our position has been that the only thing that can really get rates going higher would be a collapse in confidence. Are we close to crossing some threshold?

We see what we want
2016-07

In this age of digital consumption, it takes extra effort to fight off the cognitive biases that investors and traders are faced with.

The Price of Liquidity
2016-06

Any "thing" is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

Bring on Q4
2016-05

The 4th quarter of US general election years tends to be very good for trend trading (or convex) strategies. We explore this idea using data from a bunch of names from the 90's. Are you ready?

Anscombe's Quartet
2016-04

Daily mentions of "correlation" compel us to remind you that few things can replace experience and you might just be getting what you pay for.

I am not uncertain
2016-03

We are finding out about lots of interesting things that have been happening behind closed doors and we are not privy to. But when has that ever not been the case? Price is all that matters.

Jokes are rarely as funny the second time around
2016-02

Fresh year lows in the equity indices are yet again matched by a massive short-squeeze as Jamie Dimon does his best J Pierpont Morgan impression and makes a widely-advertised purchase of JPM in his personal account.

You've been warned
2016-01

"So goes January, so goes the year" is the old trading axiom, as if anything old matters anymore. On Groundhog Day, we are left once again wondering about the $4 Trillion in passive long index investments out there as discussed in our Oct '14 essay.

Yellen Does, Draghi Can't
2015-12

After getting spooked in August, the Fed finally pulled the trigger with a rate hike ending an unprecedented era in which your old textbooks are no longer valid. Draghi, on the other hand, was quite certain that he could mount an aggressive easing campaign and miscalculated the required votes.

Complexity Theory
2015-11

The Fed has a notoriously bad track record of forecasting because their models are flawed. Behavioral Economics and Complexity Theory suggest that even with perfect knowledge, you cannot predict outcomes.

The Empire Strikes Back
2015-10

Does 2015 feel a lot like 1998 to anyone else out there other than me? (Except of course that Fed Funds are at zero instead of 5.50% and the Keynesian bullet has been spent...)

Land of Confusion
2015-09

Some pundits have been calling for rate hikes off the emergency zero bound since 2011. After carefully and finally setting the stage for rate 'lift off', the Yellen Fed failed to pull the trigger.

One Man's "Crash" is Another Man's "Correction"
2015-08

Another currency peg abandoned. Catastrophic Cascading Capitulation as "Carry Trades" and "Risk" were swiftly unwound during the summer break of 2015.

Perspective
2015-07

Remember the Asian Crisis in '97/'98? As the 2009 commodity lows are being challenged, just how deep can these prices go? Perspective is everything.

So You Think You Can Dance?
2015-06

Collapsing Chinese equities markets prompt Central Bank intervention, and Greek referendum opens the door to reversing the 'irreversible'.

Non-Confirmation and the "Move with No Name"
2015-05

Some mixed-signals coming from the equities indices and a difficult period in commodities as we vacillate around the 2009 low.

Every 3 Billion Years or so
2015-04

These "100 Year floods" seem to be happening rather frequently.

When the Fed taps the brakes, someone always goes thru...
2015-03

Just ask Bob Citron and Orange County.

What's good for AAPL is good for the country
2015-02

A handful of stocks control the market.

That first step is a doozy...
2015-01

The Swiss shock by abandoning their currency peg.

Disciplined. Efficient. Gritty.
2014-12

80% of success is showing up.

Commodity Crumple (the Fib within the Fib)
2014-11

The CRB gaps lower and opens the door to the possibility of revisiting the 2009 lows.

Towards the Sound of Chaos
2014-10

Increasingly crowded Passive Index Investing and "Buy The Dip" mentality may wish to consider that Central Bank intervention might not always be there to save you.

The Kiss
2014-09

Our VAMI meets that of the SP500. But, we got there in incredibly different ways.

Chutes and Ladders
2014-08

Markets tend to go down faster than they go up.

Winter is Coming
2014-07

Brazil 1:7 Germany Nobody predicted that outcome. Trend Following has no forecasting bias. Do you?

Ab Porto (Opportunity)
2014-06

Markets are Maximally Perverse and work in unpredictable ways. At some point volatility will return. Have CTA strategies and investors passed Capitulation and Despondency into mere Depression?