We ended the month in the black with a 0.74% return. I realize that nobody is jumping up and down with that kind of performance, but I’m honestly very excited to see the change.
At the beginning of October, I made a substantial change to the portfolio. Previously I attempted to pick pairs that were doing well. This approach was something of a mixed bag. While some periods of performance were quite nice, such as June of this year, the month of August was pretty harsh on the portfolio. I also didn’t like that the pair selection process was still very subjective.
The QB Pro strategy, like any strategy, makes its most important trading decisions when it selects its portfolio. The strategy is not one that can make money in any given environment. Instead, it requires careful selection of instruments in order to give itself the best possible opportunity to earn a profit.
Based on about 100 hours of research with Jingwei back in September, I’ve been able to reduce the amount of discretion when selecting portfolio instruments. For example, the mega-monster performance from August 2014-March 2015 was driven exclusively by the strength of the US dollar.
As anyone who buys gasoline for their car knows, the trend shifted this year out of currencies and into commodities. Specifically, commodities have taken a real beating. China’s economy is sputtering, the US like it’s unable to raise interest rates and most industries suffer from serious gluts. Oil production in the US is widely rumored to possess a severe over-capacity, as evidenced by all the junk-debt ratings on US drillers. Gold mining stocks around the world have been the red-headed stepchild of financial markets, trading at PE ratios as low as 1.0.
That weakness spread to commodity currencies, even major currencies like AUD, CAD and NZD. As I ran backtests using a portfolios of those currencies and their crosses, I noticed that the equity curve more less marched straight up through the summer. More importantly, that basket of pairs benefited from the Chinese devaluation, whereas my custom basket took a step drawdown.
I’m expecting more problems of out both China and the US through the rest of the year. Although China managed to settle down after the summer, the problems plaguing it are anything but fixed. Recent bankruptcies and bailout of state owned firms point to more cockroaches. And, you know the rule about cockroaches. Where there’s one, there’s 10 more. I expect more Chinese devaluation to follow.
The commodity currency exposure is an indirect, systematic play on this expectation. The portfolio has done well in the current environment and, given that I don’t expect any improvement at all in China, should continue to do well.
The other variable is the Fed. I had the rather unfortunate luck of launching the portfolio just in time for a Fed governor to cast doubt on any US interest rate hikes this year. The change got off on the wrong foot. But QB Pro didn’t just stem the losses. It bounced off the equity low and marched upward in nearly a straight line for the rest of the month.
The Fed meeting in October forced the governors to pretend as though a 2015 rate hike is on the table. There’s always the chance that the Fed might hike rates just to prove a point. They’ve been talking about this for 9 months now. The futures market at one point put the odds somewhere near 67% for a 2015 rate hike. Prior to the meeting, those expectations fell under 25%, then jumped back to around 50%.
Even if the Fed did raise rates, I see an impossibly low probability of a sustained program of rate hikes. The data looks like a car sputtering on fumes. There’s deflation everywhere expect for the financial markets and beef, where “investors” have been encouraged to park their money in junk debt in exchange for a pitiful 4-5% yield. The economy is sick. The idea of consumers breaking out their wallets and spending like the drunken sailors of 2007 is laughable.
My expectation for the next 6-24 months is that the Fed slowly retreats from talk of hiking rates and into another round of QE. That will mark the final admission that the Keynesian policies aren’t working and where the markets lose all confidence in central banks.
A confidence collapse would slam currency markets, but it should exercise the most severe impact on the commodity currencies that my traders and I focus on with QB Pro. The deflation would press prices even further to the downside, which provides ideal conditions for this type of strategy.
Open slots for new traders
I’m hosting a webinar on November 12 to teach you as much as I can about algorithmic trading. The webinar is going to cover in detail the QB Pro strategy, especially the SB score. I’m also planning to discuss the Fed and Chinese situation in more detail, as these are the two most important factors for us to consider when applying strategies. Make sure to sign up to the newsletter to be notified when I start accepting registrations. This is also open to traders in the United States, which is a big change from previous options!
If you’re interested in trading the QB Pro strategy in your own account, attending the webinar will be mandatory. And as a thank you for spending 45 minutes of your day learning from me, you’ll be given a strong financial incentive to trade QB Pro. More details to come soon, so make sure that you subscribe to the newsletter now before you forget.