Modelling the Bottom of the Covid-19 Financial Crisis

17.March 2020

The global pandemic of current scope is something that was experienced by only a few living people. We have some historical accounts of how it unfolded in the past, but otherwise, it is uncharted territory. It is a true Black Swan event – event that I believe was in nobody’s lineup of stress testing scenarios. But we can still try to get some understanding of the scope of the current situation.

The actual global crisis is a mix of 2 crisis. The first one is the health-care / pandemic crisis, during which millions of people will be infected, and unfortunately, a lot of them will die. The second crisis is the economic crisis/recession, which will follow simultaneously with (or soon after) the first one (due to the decrease in worldwide supply and demand).

The second crisis cannot end before the first one is solved. We cannot exactly say when the market bottom will occur, but at least we can try to model the minimum time needed for things to get under control during the pandemic.

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Bitcoin in a Time of Financial Crisis

16.March 2020

One of the very often promoted attributes of Bitcoin is said to be its “safe heaven” characteristic. Some cryptocurrency proponents advocate that Bitcoin can be used as a store of value mainly during the economic and financial crisis. We argue that it’s not so.

Bitcoin (and all cryptocurrencies too) is, in our opinion, fundamentally more similar to stocks of small companies from the technological sector. It is a very speculative bet on blockchain technology. It may seem unrelated to the broader equity market (like the S&P 500 index) during normal times. But when a stressful time comes, investors are more concerned to meet a deadline for the next mortgage payment. This is the time when the speculative bets are closed, and cash is raised. And this is precisely the time when Bitcoin falls as equities do too.

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Do Copycat CTAs Outperform Individualistic CTAs?

13.February 2020

Our society teaches us, that it is good to be different. That our trading strategy must be always unique, creative and individualistic. It is boring and unprofitable to be the “average”, to do what the others do. And then, there is a research paper written by Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian which offers the opposite view. Their analysis explains there exist one hedge fund style where everything is the other way round – trend-following CTAs funds. Their interesting (but for some maybe controversial) paper shows that CTAs with returns that correlate more strongly with those of peers have higher performance. It appears that CTA strategy conformity is a signal of managerial skill. Now, that is an eccentric idea 🙂

Authors: Bollen, Hutchinson and O’Brian

Title: When It Pays to Follow the Crowd: Strategy Conformity and CTA Performance

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Why Did Trend-Following Underperform Last Decade?

20.December 2019

Trend-following funds and strategies were extremely popular after the 2008/2009 crisis. They offered attractive performance, and diversification properties made them a nice addition to investor’s portfolios. Ten years later, “trend-following strategy” is not such a popular word. Strategies didn’t blow-up, but their performance was far from spectacular. What are the main reasons for that? Is it an increased correlation among markets? Are trend rules inefficient? An important recent academic study written by Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos (all from AQR Capital Management) analyzes trend-following performance for each decade in the last 140 years and uses three distinct factors: the magnitude of market moves, the efficacy of trend-following strategies at capturing profitability from market moves, and the degree of diversification across trends in a trend-following portfolio. They show that it’s the first factor (a lack of large risk-adjusted market moves, positive or negative) that had the biggest impact in the last decade. This suggests that trend-following strategies should be able to deliver better performance in the future if the size of the market moves reverts to levels more consistent with the long-term historical distribution of returns…

Authors: Babu, Hoffman, Levine, Ooi, Schroeder, and Stamelos

Title: You Can’t Always Trend When You Want

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How to Choose the Best Period for Indicators

3.December 2019

Academic literature recognizes a large set of indicators or factors that are connected with the various assets. These indicators can be utilized in a variety of trading strategies, which means that such indicators are popular among practitioners who seek to invest their funds. Usually, the indicators are connected with some evaluation period.

This paper aims to show some possible approaches to find the optimal evaluation periods of indicators. This is a key question among practitioners and therefore we see it as crucial to shed a light on this topic. Although we are focused on momentum strategies, the information in this paper is widely applicable also in the construction of any other trading strategy where the investor has to decide indicator’s period…

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Equity Factor Strategies In Frontier Markets

12.July 2019

A new research paper related to all equity factor strategies …

Authors: Zaremba, Maydybura, Czapkiewicz, Arnaut

Title: Explaining Equity Anomalies In Frontier Markets: A Horserace of Factor Pricing Models



We are the first to compare the explanatory power of the major empirical asset pricing models over equity anomalies in the frontier markets. We replicate over 160 stock market anomalies in 23 frontier countries for years 1996–2017, and evaluate their performance with the factor models. The Carhart’s (1997) four-factor model outperforms both the recent Fama and French (2015) five-factor model and the q-model by Hou, Xue, and Zhang (2015). Its superiority is driven by the ability to explain the momentum-related anomalies. Inclusion of additional profitability and investment factors lead to no further major improvement in the performance. Nonetheless, none of the models is able to fully explain the abnormal returns on all of the anomaly portfolios.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"In times of soaring correlations among global stocks and increasing controversies on anomaly performance in emerging stock markets, one specific asset class may offer a remedy: frontier equities. Deemed the least developed emerging markets, the frontier countries are scattered around the globe, with presence in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Being very diverse both economically and geographically, they range from the wealthy oil-producing kingdoms in the Gulf to some of the poorest countries in Africa. While the current size of the frontier stock markets is still fairly small – the total capitalization of the MSCI Frontier Market Index constituents equaled $134 billion in May 2018 (MSCI, 2018), accounting for less than 0.4% of developed markets – yet, the interest in them is growing quickly.

Considering the future potential, along with the soaring interest of the international community, and the investment opportunities, it is surprising how underresearched – if not ignored – the frontier equities are. The number of academic studies on this stock market class seems astonishingly modest. This leaves numerous important questions, which may be of huge importance for global investors, unanswered. Which equity anomalies – discovered originally in developed countries – work also in the frontier stock markets? Could they be translated into profitable strategies using easily-to-implement quantitative methods? Finally, which asset pricing models and factors best summarize the cross-sectional return patterns and the equity anomalies in frontier countries? Could the recent five-factor framework by Fama and French (2015) or the q-model by Hou, Xue, and Zhang (2015) be also applied in this growing asset class? The principal target of this study is to close this gap in the existing body of literature at least partially.

Research sample

The elevated liquidity constraints, higher trading costs, short sale unavailability accompanied by less sophisticated investors may potentially result in larger mispricing and more pronounced stock market anomalies.

Our research aims to contribute in three primary ways. Our first goal is to conduct the most comprehensive test on which equity anomalies, discovered originally in the developed countries, are also present in the frontier equities. Thus, we examine the performance of 167 anomalies from the finance literature, encompassing different classes of patterns related to value, trend following, investment, profitability, risk, and many others. The large-scale analysis available in broadly-accessible journals was either limited to the few most prominent strategies, such as size, value, and momentum (Blackburn and Cakici 2017, De Groot, Pang, and Swinkels 2012). Our study aims to take a substantial leap forward in understanding the multidimensionality of equity returns in the frontier markets.

Second, we research which of the broadly-acknowledged asset pricing models serve best in explaining the cross-section of anomaly returns in the frontier markets. In particular, we consider seven factor pricing models: the capital asset pricing model (Sharpe 1964), abbreviated CAPM, the three-factor model (Fama and French 1993), abbreviated FF3, the four-factor model (Carhart 1997), abbreviated C4, the five-factor model (Fama and French 2015), abbreviated FF5, the q-model by Hou, Xue, and Zhang (2015), the six-factor model by Fama and French (2018), abbreviated FF6, and the six-factor model by Barillas and Shanken (2018), abbreviated BS6.

Last but not least, our research may be regarded as a large out-of-sample test of equity anomalies.

To answer our research questions, we replicate the 167 equity anomalies from Zaremba et al. (2018) in an extensive sample of over 3,600 companies from frontier markets from all over the world for years 1996 – 2017. We form the long-short anomaly portfolios and evaluate their returns using the seven considered factor pricing models: CAPM, FF3, C4, FF5, Q4, FF6, and BS6. We compare the models’ performance by employing a range of tools and statistics that assess their ability to explain the risk and mean returns jointly.

The principal findings of this study could be summarized as follows. First, out of the 167 anomaly portfolios, only 38% (19%) of the equal-weighted (value-weighted) long-short strategies produce profits significantly departing from zero at the 5% level. The successful return patterns are usually linked to the “value vs. growth” or trend following effects, verifying positively the arguments of Asness, Moskowitz, and Pedersen (2013) that value and momentum are everywhere.

Second, we demonstrate that Carhart’s (1997) four-factor model best explains the anomaly returns in frontier markets, outperforming other models in many ways. It displays lower average absolute intercepts and largest number of explained anomalies. Its cross-sectional and time-series R2 is higher CAPM, FF3, FF5, or Q4, and only marginally lower than in the case of FF6 and BS6.

Returns of long short portfolios


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