Tuesday, January 31, 2017

US Stocks at Tipping Point

For readers who want to quickly read about the action plan in this environment, scroll down to the Next Steps section. For detailed understanding of current situation, please read through:


Latest rally phase started in November 2016, around election time. Initially, it was regarded as a relief rally for Hillary could become president as FBI investigation had yielded no results. However, it quickly turned into Trump rally because of promises for stimulus and other pro-business policies.

The popular belief was that the new president will only implement pro-business policies like stimulus and tax cuts, while several other more aggressive policies will not be enacted. Fast forward to today, and the pro-business policies remain elusive while the aggressive policies are causing confusion and in return global equity markets are suffering.

Correction that was due

Blaming the market's decline on policies or some external factors is what TV commentators do. But there is another perspective to looking at this decline. And that is related to the fact that the markets have not experienced any substantial decline since last February (2016).

Following charts shows a nicely persistent rally that had endured over the last year in the face of all the uncertainty of 2016. Both SP500 and Nasdaq show a clear 5-wave rally pattern.

It is surreal to look back at the extremely dismal start of 2016, when people were talking about Oil crash and so many other variables. Even then the market managed to end up ~12% in 2016.

In such a volatile year, our proprietary strategy beat the market and the gained 12.2%. Most of the gains were long-term gains, thus minimizing tax impact (Detailed 2016 performance evaluation).

Therefore, one cannot judge the performance of the market just by looking at couple of months. But one thing is for sure, volatility will be high as overdue correction finally arrives.

No Buy signal, means continued decline

There are several other reasons to believe that recent decline is the start of something bigger:
  1. No buy signal after 2 day decline
  2. Extremely high valuations
  3. Political uncertainty without any focus on economic stimulus programs
  4. Hawkish Fed 
  5. Fairly optimistic sentiment
In order for these stock market rally impediments to go away, market needs to consolidate recent gains. Right now there is no indication that this decline will be the start of a new bear market. However, if the government does not deliver on its pro-business policies, it could quickly turn into one.

Next Steps and Investing Strategies

  1. Keep an eye on the Market Classification Model to understand if and when the stock market enters a Bear Market (MCM Details).
  2. US markets are still in Bull phase and this could be a good buying opportunity, at lower levels
  3. Gold and Bonds can be good alternatives, with careful review of the MCM
  4. Develop an investment plan with your goals in mind and invest accordingly. For example, if you want good returns and have some extra cash, one can buy BitCoins
We will continue to explore 2017 strategic investing ideas on this blog. Forward looking investing helps you in keeping a level head while investing. For example, we mentioned that the market had not entered a bear market in Oct-Nov 2016 and added longs, and ended up benefitting from the latest rally. Analysis during election time:
Therefore, if your interested in free e-mail list or in paid services like Market Classification Model, please fill-out the form below.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Amazing 2016 for UST Proprietary Strategy!!

Happy New Year to all the readers. 2016 was an amazing year with our conservative strategy up 12.2% versus 11.96% of SP500 (with dividend). Snapshot below is taken from the brokerage account.


We will start 2017 by reviewing 2016 performance. This review will cover every aspect of the performance, along with how the strategy performed in times of uncertainty and volatility. Each blog post will cover a different aspect of the performance review.

UST team has been developing repeatable, scalable and easily explainable proprietary investment strategies, along with built-in risk-management measures. In 2015, the strategy was developed and back tested. Last year, strategy was moved to production with real money. At the same time, we also developed 3 additional strategies, which will be discussed in future posts.

2016 - The Year of Volatility:

2016 was a very volatile year. It started with one of the worst starts of the year for the US stocks. Although market started a rally phase from Feb/March time frame, it remained on the edge due to following three major reasons:

  1. US presidential election primaries
  2. Fed's rate decision
  3. Brexit 
Brexit was one of the biggest surprises of 2016. The night of Brexit vote, market dropped over 1000 points before starting another rally phase, which most of the market participants didn't see. This was followed by an unprecedented US presidential election, which took almost everyone by surprise. If some people got the election results right, their market positioning was wrong. In the end market ended with a ~12% gain from a ~5% loss at the start of the year.

Conservative Strategy Performance - 2016

Interesting aspect of this strategy is that the returns are uncorrelated with the market. 2016 Beta was -0.57, while 9 year back-testing showed a Beta of -0.08. Since the returns are totally independent of the market performance, we can say that these returns were Alpha.

Throughout this volatile year, our proprietary model kept us on the right side of the trade and kept on adjusting the holdings to dampen impact of volatility, while amplifying potential gains. Following is a snapshot from the brokerage account showing the monthly performance:

Following chart is from Openfolio, showing daily change of the same portfolio in 2016:

Overall gains were impacted by pre-election jitters and post-election bond rout. However, it gave the strategy an excellent buying opportunity, whose benefits we could reap in 2017. We also learned several very important lessons for the strategy, which has enabled us to improve the nimbleness of the model. Benefits of these additions are clearly visible in 2017's performance, which we will discuss in one of the next blog posts. 

Investment Options

We are working very hard to make these strategies available for investors. If you are interested in investing, you can register below and we will send you update when the strategy is available for investments. Some of the key outputs from the data models used in this strategy are also available through subscription