Market analysis and insights on Forex & Commodities!

Bloomberg recently did a good cover on what hedge fund managers are looking out for in 2017. The general consensus is clear; the market is uncertain, and world events are causing markets to react in unexpected ways.

“You’re going to have to take way more risk today in order to try to make outsize gains versus a year ago,” -Hanif Mamdani, PH&N Absolute Return Fund

I found the article to be pretty insightful, with a handful of key take-aways. To make it easier for my readers, I’ve broken up the article into easy-to-digest sections, and added some charts and examples to make it clearer. Here we go:

1. Distressed Energy Companies

Hedge funds specializing in purchasing companies that are on the verge of collapse, actually profited from the rise in oil prices last year. Companies that were in the red started to turn profitable, and after purchasing companies at ultra-cheap prices, these assets were starting to bring in significant capital gains for hedge funds. Even though oil has risen significantly, hedge fund managers still see the potential for more gains.

It’s interesting to look at the related ETFs for oil and gas companies. I’ve pulled out 2 charts of U.S Oil & Gas company ETFs (XES and IEO). The gains over the year are impressive.

The charts above summarize the oil and gas sector for the year of 2016.

On the technical side, the Oil & Gas sector is still on an uptrend. It is prudent to remain bullish when the market is still trending up. It’s interesting that XES has broken out of a wedge, and looks to be gathering bullish momentum.

In the longer term, oil & gas companies seem to be picking up momentum.

 


A few weeks ago, I was invited to give a talk at the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) on the Offshore & Marine sector, and Keppel Corp was one of our top picks. 

2. “Global Macro Deceleration”

Some hedge fund managers are positioning themselves for the worst. For example, a border tax in the U.S could “cause a global depression and a major equity market decline,” says Carlson Capital’s Black Diamond Thematic Fund. They’re waiting for commodities to “correct meaningfully” (meaning a decline in commodity prices), and looking to scoop up good stocks at the bottom of the market decline.

Traditionally, sector rotation strategists have sworn by investing in stocks like semiconductors, industrials and miners during full-blown bear markets. These stocks are famous for having high volatility and are not for the faint-hearted. A famous example, Caterpillar Inc, is shown below:


Heavy industrials like Caterpillar Inc tend to move cyclically with the economy. Notice the 6 big swing it has had since 2012!

3. Long High-Yield Corporate Bonds Amidst Rising Interest Rates

Some hedge funds are betting on higher-yield corporate bonds rising during this period. High-yield bonds typically have both a short maturity and high coupon rate. With interest rates expected to rise in the coming decade, bond prices are likely to fall and bond holders will actually be worse off (Economics 101!). However, with the shorter maturity, higher-yield corporate bonds become more attractive as they are less exposed to the beating by rising interest rates. Bearing in mind these ideas, it is understandable why these have been attractive to institutional investors in the past year.


I’ve inserted a little-known ETF, “HYG”, a high-yield corporate bond ETF that tracks the prices of high-yield corporate bonds. You can see that the bear trend sharply reversed at the turn of 2016 and has been rising steadily since. The uptrend is still in force, and some hedge fund managers are looking to speculate on a variety of interest-rate products.

What They’re Saying:

In summary, what we notice to be the consensus about the market in 2017 is this:

  • Heightened interest rate, inflation rate, and economic volatility
  • Renewed interest in unconventional investment strategies

That being said, it’s important to keep yourself updated and continually learning about financial markets. In such a unique market climate, it would serve you well to continue reading up and knowing what market participants are paying attention to.

Want to Learn How to Tackle the Markets?

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Research Sources:

bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/the-top-hedge-funds-of-2016-share-their-best-bets-for-this-year

Many people do not realise that small things add up. Like how a small river can cut through rock and form grand canyons, small habits can add up over time to produce vastly different results. This means that quite often, a small change in the way we do certain things can result in huge leaps in improvement. So here are some things that rich people do differently:

1. MAKE MANY SMALL & FREQUENT WINS, NOT A FEW BIG WINS

1

Trading is boring. Ask any seasoned trader in a proprietary fund, and they will tell you the same thing. It’s all about doing the same thing over and over again, and it is surprisingly difficult to do something simple over a very long period of time.

Some of the richest people I know own very humble businesses. One example is the typical food hawker; it’s unexciting, it’s repetitive, but hey, it gives a very stable source of income, week in, week out. It is virtually impossible for good food to become irrelevant to the typical consumer, and hence this source of income is one that will last a long time.

In trading, it’s the same. Small wins add up over time, and instead of being diligent, many aspiring traders choose to take the easy way and just look for that one quick way to make money. Although the news always glorifies the one-hit wonders, like Zuckerberg and other billionaire tech founders, the majority of the rich are not overnight successes, and they know this rule best: small wins add up over time.

 

2. THINK IN % ROI, NOT DOLLARS OF INCOME

Compounding is the way to go. Although you might be nauseating because this is probably the 100th article on the power of compounding, it really works. Just take a moment and think with me:

Nobody would learn trading if you claim to make $10 a day. They want $100 a day, $1000 a day, but forget that it starts with $10 a day.

That’s why most people fail to achieve financial success. They measure monetary success in dollar terms, and fail to consider that ROI is what brings true riches over the long-run.

Thinking in ROI is a very huge barrier for many people, and it actually benefits you because when you finally do make a substantial sum of money, you will still be thinking in terms of ROI and not be overwhelmed by the huge amount of funds on your plate.

I’ve seen many traders do well on small accounts, only to blow up with larger accounts because they have not drilled the ROI concept deep into their minds.

If you can make 3% a month, that’s $30 for a $1000 account, $300 for a $10,000 account, and $3,000 for a $100,000 account. Go figure. If your focus is on % ROI, you will not have an issue growing your wealth quickly.

 

3. STAY AWAY FROM ALL FORMS OF GAMBLING

This point is probably the easiest to write about:

Gambling = negative expectation

Investing/trading = positive expectation

I bet I can stop gambling!”

Gambling gives you hope, which is false and always gets dashed.

Investing gives you certainty, which is true and rewards the skillful.

I think that’s enough said. If you’re gambling for the thrill, treat it as expenses. As a trader I always think in probabilities, so since the expected return from gambling is negative, the rational decision is to not participate at all.

In addition, 1 in 5 gambling addicts attempt suicide. It destroys your family, your friendships, your sense of sanity, and your work ethic. I think it’s enough to let you realize it won’t get you rich; even the seemingly innocent TOTO or 4D that you buy is not a rational attempt for someone to earn big money.

 

4. TIME IS WORTH MORE THAN MONEY

Quite often, people will go to great lengths to save money, for example spending hours hunting around for cheap shopping deals, when all you save for your hours of effort is a mere $10-20. Rich people know the value of their time.

One important question to ask yourself is, “what is the $ value of 1 hour of your time?” If 1 hour of your time is only worth $2, then spending an hour queueing up for free ice-cream might make sense. However, if one hour of your time is worth $200, then taking a $20 cab ride to save an hour of transport will make a lot of sense. You get the idea.

At this point, you might have realised that one if the key ways to increase your net worth is to gradually work your way up by increasing the value of your time. After all, everyone has 24 hours in a day, but the more value you can create in one hour of your time, the higher you will be paid for it, and the higher the value of that hour will be.

 

5. DON’T WASTE MONEY ON CHEAP STUFF – ONLY BUY QUALITY GOODS

It’s sad that most people are thrifty in things that do not matter, but silly when it comes to investments of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’ve seen people scrimp on their daily meals, yet when it comes to investments, blow $50,000 on an investment fund they do not understand, or buy into a multi-currency deposit that doesn’t even make sense.

Home purchases, which make up the bulk of most people’s expenditures, tend to be bad decisions. People buy houses that they cannot afford, spend money on renovations that don’t matter, and waste money where it doesn’t bring returns.

1Most people are smart with small sums of money, but unwise on big decisions

Rich people buy things that appreciate in value, while poor people don’t. Electronics generally don’t appreciate in value. If you consider buying electronics, buy quality electronics, and keep them in tip-top condition so that you can resell them at a decent price. And… just because it’s the latest gadget doesn’t mean it’s quality. You’ve got to do your research and think about your purchases if you are serious about your money.

Wine does appreciate in value, and so do quality branded goods. Some Louis Vuitton bags appreciate in value, and it would do you well to consult experts if you are intending to use these products.

Other things that are not worth spending on include:

  • fast food
  • low-quality makeup
  • gifts that don’t really matter
  • alcohol
  • bottled water
  • cheap shoes/clothing that you throw away within 6 months

Yes. It might hurt to read this, but if you need a total personal finance audit, then it helps to do a reality check on yourself.

 

6. LASTLY, RECOGNIZE THAT PERSONAL DEBT IS A SHACKLE

Personal debt chains you from spending on what really matters. In the U.S, many undergraduates end their college years with US$100,000 and above in personal debt. How in the world would they be able to start a family, much less get a home to live in?

In my opinion, the only useful loan is the humble HOME LOAN. Yes, a loan for the house you actually live in, not the house that you would not live in. It is essential to have a roof over your head that you own, because when your business fails, when you lose your job, you still have somewhere to rest and find solace while you sort things out. The worst thing you can find yourself in is having no house, no money, and no one to support you at your lowest moment. Using debt to buy additional houses is a bad idea unless you are a real estate investor by profession and you know what you are doing.

Car loans are unnecessary. Unless you have a dire need for a car, buy the car in cash as much as possible, or just take a taxi everywhere since you can afford it anyway. Credit card loans are the jaws of death for many; stay away from them, and just follow the simple mantra of  spending below your means”. 

Spend below your means, but also look to expand your means.

Too many people get stuck in the “spending below your means” mentality, and fail to consider how they can acquire more sources of income. In fact, having no personal debt frees you to make decisions that allow you to work towards financial freedom, which may require you to have no income for months or years in a row.

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I hope that these 6 tips will get you toward your goal of financial freedom. Keep at it! Remember, if you change your habits, you will change your outcomes. Live like the rich do, and you’ll soon be living the life that the rich do.

Reading this article without putting the tips into practice is like looking into a mirror and forgetting what you look like. It might hurt at the start, but changing the way you live could very well change your destiny!

Wishing you all the best in your journey!

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

sbr.com.sg/commercial-property/commentary/state-industry-rise-self-storage-in-singapore
businesstimes.com.sg/hub/property-2016/self-storage-industrial-space-poised-to-expand
nreionline.com/self-storage/self-storage-sector-maintains-steady-growth
alternet.org/how-gambling-can-kill-you-faster-drug-abuse-or-alcoholism
wondergressive.com/20-biggest-wastes-money/

asd

LOW VOLUME MAKES IT CHALLENGING

The volume of stocks traded on the SGX has been falling over the years.

The SGX has been plagued by weak volumes; well-known brands like Tiger Airways, OSIM, and Eu Yan Sang have left the exchange. In one article I read, a stock broker told The Straits Times that “stockbroking is looking like a sunset profession now”.

As for the number of IPOs?

Nov 2016: 1

Aug 2016: 2

Jul 2016: 6

Jun 2016: 1

May 2016: 1

Apr 2016: 1

sgxSince the start of 2016, trading volumes have been lacklustre.
Source: ChannelNewsAsia

Not only has volume been lacklustre; the Singapore Straits Times Index has been hovering sideways for most of 2016. Intra-day trading is an impossibility for many because of the huge amount of funds needed to trade stocks in and out.

SAVE MONEY 7 TIMES BY MOVING TO FOREX TRADING

$ – Save Initial ‘Tuition’ Fees

Trade small, make mistakes with small sums of money.

$$ – Save on commissions

Zero commissions, period.

$$$ – Track your stats and make changes

Use myfxbook to track your statistics, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

$$$$ – Charts are free

Pay nothing for charts, forever.

$$$$$ – Trade only when you are not working

24/7 market allows you to choose to trade only when you are free; won’t have to sacrifice your job.

$$$$$$ – Market volatility known ahead of time

Use the forex calendar to know when your forex pair will encounter volatility; no more rude news shocks.

$$$$$$$ – Accumulate expertise cheaply

No need to wait years or pay market strategists to test if your strategy works; try it out on past charts, execute it ‘live’, and see how it goes.

IT’S CRAZY; I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE HATE FOREX

Some people quip that the forex market is more difficult to trade than the stock market. I beg to differ, because it is your circle of competence that determines your success, not the actual characteristics of the market.

You get to start with as little as $500.

In the Forex market, you are entitled to ‘get a feel of the game’ by risking a few dollars per trade. Most brokers allow you to trade 0.01 lots, which is $0.10 per pip on average!

The quickest way to rack up trading experience is to make many trades and check out the statistics behind your trades. After all, it’s a numbers’ game: with a properly developed trading edge, your account should have a positive expectation and profits should be the norm over the long-run.

You trade ‘live’ and get skin in the game.

There’s this huge debate about ‘live’ accounts versus demo accounts. Here’s the solution: start with a ‘live’ account right from the beginning. Get yourself into the reality of trading, risking money on a daily basis. Sooner or later you will get used to the risk that is inherent to the game.

By learning to make many decisions and experiencing all the different conditions of the market, you would become seasoned enough to trade a bigger size, and fine-tune your own trading strategy. I like what Tom Sosnoff said about learning to trade: “Trade small, trade often.”

No commission charges!

Forex has no commission charges. This may come as a shocker to the stock trader, but for forex traders it is a constant reality. This reduces the ‘tuition fees’ you need to pay to the market as a result of making trades.

Many new traders make any of the following mistakes:

  • Trading the wrong lot size (1.00 instead of 0.10, causing too big a trade size)
  • Going short instead of long
  • Entering a trade only to realize the market is closed

Yes! These mistakes may sound silly, but every trader who has had skin in the game would understand what I just said.

24/7 market; choose when you want to trade.

The great thing about Forex is that you can decide when to trade based on your schedule. That helps people who have punishing schedules: trading in the middle of the night, or during lunch, on a daily basis, works out to a trading schedule that accommodates your lifestyle needs.

 

THE SIMPLE 3 STEPS TO MITIGATE FOREX TRADING RISKS

Here are three simple steps to mitigate Forex trading risks:

  • Think in Percentages – takes the emotion out of the dollars
  • Find an Edge – only an edge gives you a profit in the long-run
  • Stick to One Style – don’t try to be everything at the start

asdToo many forex traders try to do everything at once. Focus on first becoming profitable; diversifying across trading styles can come later.

If you want to get started on forex trading, what’s stopping you? I’ve shown you 7 ways it can save you money in your trading career.

If not today, then when?

Cheers!

REFERENCES & RESEARCH SOURCES

straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/sgx-turnover-plunges-27-to-206b-in-august
theindependent.sg/business/the-hollowing-of-the-singapore-stock-exchange-sgx/
channelnewsasia.com/news/business/singapore/sgx-reports-on-year/2406994.html
shareinvestor.com/ipo/index.html

As I was preparing for the year ahead, I came across this interesting read in the news. Goldman Sachs had just released their top trade recommendations for the year 2017 as a response to a Trump win in the recent U.S elections, amid economic and political uncertainty. These trade ideas were birthed by recent developments in the major economies of the world, and I couldn’t help but recall what Goldman said in 2015, about 2016 being a year of economic gloom. Already, the S&P 500 is hovering at 2,200, up 9.4% for the year 2016.

goldmanImage Source: Bloomberg

“Goldman Sachs’ top strategists predict that stocks will once again disappoint next year. Goldman predicts the S&P 500 will go nowhere in the coming year, ending 2016 at 2,100.” – Fortune.com (November 2015)

Analysts can be wrong, and to be fair, very few expected the S&P to hit all-time highs. As traders know, we don’t expect to be right all the time. There were a number of great opportunities for bears to take profits even in the uptrend market we’ve seen this year. With information from 29 Nov 2016, the S&P 500 was about 100 points above what Goldman predicted for the year, and the graphic (a weekly chart of the S&P 500 index) below gives a clearer picture of this.

goldman-predictionImage Source: MetaTrader 4

I often read opinions of the market not because I need them, but because as a trader it is essential that I keep up to date with what the institutions are thinking. In the latest recommendation, Goldman recommended the following: (quoting the titles directly from Bloomberg’s report)

  1. “U.S. Dollar the Winner From Developed Market Populism”
  2. “Bet on Trump Getting More Upset About China’s currency”
  3. “Keep Calm and Carry the Right Emerging Market Currencies”
  4. “Long Emerging Market Stocks with ‘Insulated Exposure to Growth’ “
  5. “The Reflation Trade Has Legs”
  6. “Long European Dividend Growth”

What in the world do these ideas mean? Just in case it sounds too confusing, I have translated them into simpler bite-sized titbits below.

confusedImage Source: freepik.com

HERE ARE THE SIX TRADE IDEAS:

Trade Idea #1: Short the EUR/USD pair and GBP/USD pair

currencyImage Source: CleanFinancial.com

Goldman expects the US Dollar to rise. As such, shorting currency pairs with ‘USD’ at the back would express this adequately. Trump’s economic policies are expected to be growth-inducing. Stuff like great quantities of fiscal stimulus, protectionism (both in terms of foreign products and foreign people, haha) to boost local growth and employment, and not to forget, rising interest rates; all these increase demand for the US Dollar.

Uncertainty in Britain (because of the details of the Brexit process) and “populism in Europe” (another Donald Trump situation in Europe?) should “weigh on the pound and the euro”. Essentially, they mean the currency of Britain and Europe should be less in demand as compared to the US Dollar.

Trade Idea #2: Go long on the USD/CNY pair

globalImage Source: Globalriskinsights.com

China’s current currency regime is a fixed yuan with respect to a basket of other currencies, therefore a strong US Dollar should push the Yuan higher. Kind of the same logic as idea No.1.


Trade Idea #3:
Go long on emerging market currencies, like MXN, NOK and others

Following the U.S. election, a number of the higher-yielding currencies experienced a mini-meltdown. Nothing new; they’re just recommending taking a reversal trade on oversold currencies.

mxnnokHuge run-ups in USDMXN and USDNOK show major selling in emerging market currencies.
Image Source: MetaTrader 4


Trade Idea #4:
 Buy emerging market equities that don’t benefit much from U.S and China’s growth

Quite a straight-forward idea; countries like Brazil and India will probably continue to grow despite America and China’s antics, and they should be seen as safer places to park money.


Trade Idea #5:
 Bet on rising inflation by buying 10-year U.S. TIPS

Growth in the U.S should lead to re-introduction of inflationary pressures. Along with bullish expectations for energy prices, Goldman expects 2017 to be a year of inflation.


Trade Idea #6: 
Bet on rising dividends by buying Euro Stoxx 50 2018 dividend futures

Yes, you can not only bet on inflation, but on dividends rising. The Eurex actually offers futures contracts for people who want to bet on dividends rising. I’ve heard of other strange futures contracts like cheese, freight, gold volatility index futures, crack spread futures, but this is interesting.

In 2011, Goldman Sachs expressed their prediction for 2012 as “Overall, though, a volatile market, with little overall change, what we describe as ‘fat and flat,’ would be our central view for the year as a whole, but with things getting worse before they get better…”

In 2012, Goldman Sachs predicted the end of the gold bull market and an improved economy (as well as a bullish stock market), and accurately so. Well done for them. (check out the bullish move in 2013 in the chart below)

spAnd so Goldman Sachs predicted the bull market of 2013.
Image Source: MetaTrader 4

From an outsider’s point of view, it seems that Goldman could just be very, very good at predicting things. However, a quick google search will reveal that they are also incorrect in their calls at times, and this should humble any aspiring trader.

In my opinion, the end of the gold market of 2013 was a result of simple price action analysis. Statistically speaking, or using probabilistic reasoning, a sideways market was a reasonable prediction.

In the image below of the gold weekly chart, we can clearly see the multiple trend line breaks that 2012 was characterized by, and the subsequent sideways-bearish move in 2013. We are still in a sideways market on a multi-year basis.

bullGold experienced a bearish move after multiple trendline breaks in 2012.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

With all this in mind, what then should we be looking out for in 2017? Although trading themes are being churned out by analysts year after year, using simple price action strategies, the average investor can identify a few potential trade strategies to take for the upcoming year.

THREE SIMPLE IDEAS OF MY OWN:

1. U.S. STOCKS – CONTINUE BUYING ON DIPS

As most traders know, when the market is trending strongly, ride the trend until it proves itself otherwise. This simple strategy is what I applied on the USDJPY right after the recent U.S election results. In the chart below, we see 12 distinct buying opportunities spread out over 14 days. By simply riding on a strong uptrend, it is actually not too hard to watch your profits snowball – provided you have the patience to hold your trades.

usdjpy12 buying opportunities spotted on the USDJPY 1-hour chart
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

On the S&P500, a strong trending bull market means buying on any dips is a profitable strategy. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to realize that this is a high probability trade. Of course, as with any other trade, stop losses will take me out of the market immediately if the trend quickly reverses.

“What about a Santa Claus Rally?”

Graphic shows average monthly change in Standard and Poor’sChart Source: Stock Trader’s Almanac 2010

The statistics for Nov to Feb rallies in past years is pretty positive. Starting from 1950 to 2009, the average November-January rally brings in 4.2% returns. It seems buying on any dip from now till about February next year would be a statistically sound trade.

 

2. FADING OVERLY DEVALUED CURRENCIES

For those who aren’t aware, fading simply means taking the trade in the opposite direction of the trend. This seems like a contradiction to my previous trade idea, but it isn’t; in the context of clearly trending markets, going with the trend is the reasonable thing to do, and the trend sometimes lasts for much longer than one would expect. However, when the move is very, very quick, huge, and climactic, it has to end quickly as well.

In order to see the speed of the collapse, you can obtain intra-day charts of the USDCHF on that fateful day.

chfThe famous Swiss Franc crash and rebound of 2015.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

Returning to the devalued emerging market currencies, it is reasonable to assume that huge moves will come to an end, and a reversal trade (with a clear signal!) would make for a profitable bet.

 

3. PRUDENT ENTRIES IN OIL AND GOLD (WAIT!)

On the commodities front, the markets seem more sideways than trending. In such a case, it is prudent to look to trade near the extremes for a reasonable risk-reward ratio. Here’s the crude oil daily chart, and I’ve drawn two simple lines to aid in visual analysis:

crudeIn the case of crude oil, buying near the channel line makes sense.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

It’s hard to say where the crude oil could go. Although Goldman predicts it would pick up modestly, I’d rather wait for a strong bullish setup before making an entry. It’s perfectly fine if you are not comfortable entering the market; wait for clarity. It always comes.

For Gold, I had to zoom out a lot more on the charts to make sense of what was happening. Sure, it’s seen a huge dip recently (as a result of the U.S election), but I’ll wait for more confirmation before deciding what to do.

goldGold price chart from Sep 2013 to Nov 2016
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

By the time the news reports a huge move in commodities, it’s too late. It’s much more logical to look at the charts yourself, and decide on an entry before the move happens; that’s the only way you can profit from the market.

WHAT ABOUT THE SINGAPORE STOCK MARKET?

The STI has been sideways for a couple of months now. This makes for very difficult trading, as the market changes direction many times within the month. I recommend staying clear of trading it until a clear trend develops.

stiChart Source: Tradingeconomics.com

For dollar-cost-averaging investors, this year would have been a very frustrating one indeed.

Using a simple excel sheet, I calculated what returns the investor would obtain if he had bought in any of the first six months this year, and held it to the current price (in November): (all prices used are closing prices for each month)

returnsBuyers of the Straits Times Index from March 2016 onwards would have seen measly returns.
Source: Yahoo finance (calculations done by author)

If you had bought the STI at the end of January, good for you; you would be up 11% on your investment. If you had bought at end February, you would be up 8.6% on your investment. However, the market situation isn’t good news for those who bought in the subsequent months, as shown in the diagram above. For those of you who need candlestick charts, here you go:

stiThe STI has been in a tight sideways market since July 2016; others may say it started in April 2016.
Chart Source: ChartNexus

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

I’ve shown that the Singapore market has been a tough one to trade in recent months, while opportunities were plentiful in the forex markets. Also, commodities have not asserted themselves in either direction yet, and the effect of a Trump presidency is still weighing heavily investors’ minds.

With that said, as I’ve always asserted, trading decisions are made using simple price action principles and must make logical sense. Goldman Sachs could be correct or wrong, and I could be right or wrong; what matters in the end is that the winning trades make more than the losing trades.

As Soros famously quips:

“It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.” – George Soros

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-18/here-are-goldman-sachs-top-trade-ideas-for-2017
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-17/goldman-reveals-its-top-trade-recommendations-2017
fortune.com/2015/11/25/goldman-sachs-stock-market-predictions-2016/
http://www.cleanfinancial.com/financial_images/trading/eur_usd_spread_betting_250x250.png
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/dec/22/goldman-sachs-forecast-for-2012
http://www.businessinsider.com/goldmans-2013-forecast-2012-12?IR=T&r=US&IR=T
http://www.investopedia.com/news/goldman-sachs-how-trade-first-year-trump-gs/

us-electionsSource: IBTimes UK

The U.S Presidential election results will be announced On 8 November, where 66.82% of the 218,959,000 have registered to vote. This is much higher than in 2012, where 57.61% of eligible Americans decided to vote. The increased interest in the presidential candidates is unsurprising, but what does it mean for our portfolios? There’s so much buzz around this being a ‘historic’ event that we have to see how the markets are reacting to it.

Before we dive headlong into it, I thought it’ll be good to tickle our brains with a little general knowledge. So instead of simply knowing that Trump has a questionable moral compass or that Hillary has a private email account, let’s fill our minds with some cool stuff.

WHY IS THE ELECTION HELD ON 8TH NOVEMBER THIS YEAR?

possible-dates
Some say that America was an agricultural society and November (the quietest month) was most suited for the rural people. It could have been on Tuesday because people needed time to travel to towns and cities to vote, and some could not have done so in just one or two days. Sounds credible enough to me.

Election Day has always been the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Based on this rule, it could only fall between November 2 to November 8.

The last time it was held on November 8 was in 1960, and 1988.

1960 Election Results
Candidate Party Electoral Votes Popular Votes
 John F. Kennedy Democratic 303 34,227,096
 Richard M. Nixon Republican 219 34,107,646
 Harry F. Byrd Democratic 15 116,248

1960 saw one of the closest margins in the election, with a mere 120,000 out of 68 million votes swinging the election in Kennedy’s favor. Sadly, he was assassinated in 1963 in the most high-profile murder of the 20th century.

1988 Election Results
Candidate Party Electoral Votes Popular Votes
 George Bush Republican 426 47,946,000
 Michael S. Dukakis Democratic 111 41,016,000

The 1988 elections were more one-sided, with George Bush (Senior) emerging a clear victor.

 

WHAT OUTCOME WILL GENERATE MORE UNCERTAINTY?

With Trump being the tough businessman and Clinton being the seasoned politician, the opinion of voters is very much predictable. You won’t even need to be a news analyst to understand how the general public views them. In the image below, it seems that Hillary has garnered more support in terms of her ability to handle the pressures of the Presidential office.

voteropinionSource: Huffington Post

 

In Europe, it seems that the consensus is that Trump would reap economic havoc, while Hillary would bring great relief. I can just imagine the great fear and trembling that people would feel if Donald Trump were the commander-in-chief, holding the codes for nuclear warheads being released around the world.

yougob

Source: YouGov

POSSIBILITY 1: BULLISH VIEW (MARKETS WILL RISE)

Well, that depends on which markets you are looking at. From a purely fundamental point of view, the market hates uncertainty and it seems logical to believe that markets will rise (by default) if Hillary was president. It agrees with the opinion that Hillary is unlikely to bring a lot of change to the White House, and that things will just continue chugging along.

I stumbled upon an article where an analyst seemingly guarantees that Gold would rise. Although I am bullish on Gold (in the long run) as well, I think that this election is not the key driver.

gold
Source: MarketWatch

As a trader, I always operate in a fog; one moment the market could be bullish, and the next moment the entire sentiment gets reversed. Of course, one can be of the view that Hillary will bring great relief to America and the rest of the world, but what would you do to your portfolio if markets behave otherwise?

 

sp

A cursory glance at the S&P 500 and Gold chart might lead you to conclude otherwise. In the short-term, Gold is not necessarily a safe haven, and it does not have a clear inverse relationship with the S&P 500 in recent years. In both charts above, we see that both seem to be topping out, and the S&P has even broken out of a recent wedge pattern. Gold is struggling to recover from a large breakout from its own wedge pattern as well.

POSSIBILITY 2: BEARISH VIEW (MARKETS WILL CRASH)

Among the many doomsayers out there, I do think there will be a reaction to the market but financial mayhem is quite a stretch. These people’s comments range from something as mild as “a sharp correction”, to “total financial destitution”. At the start of Obama’s term in 2008, he inherited a 34% dip in the Dow Jones Index upon being elected the President.

How much attribution will a “bad” president actually have on financial destruction? The crash of 2008 was the result of systemic banking failure. The crash of the Chinese stock market index in June 2015 was the result of an unprecedented increase in the number of stock pundits (customer brokerage account openings actually double and tripled in the years preceding the crash).

Using statistics of presidential elections since 1945, when the U.S stock market (S&P500) was increasing quickly, the incumbent candidate (Hillary) won 82% of the time; now that’s some pretty decent odds. But when the stock market was falling, the challenger (Trump) won in every election since 1984. While the S&P500 has been steadily rising since 2009, it is starting to look a bit toppish and had a slight correction in the last 1-2 months.

With Europe teetering on the edge of a recession, Trump’s policies could cause Europe to fall into a full-blown economic depression. That’s a real possibility. With his protectionist stance and nationalistic agenda, Trump could very well be the untimely catalyst.

 

POSSIBILITY 3: NEUTRAL VIEW (SIDEWAYS & MORE VOLATILITY)

There seems to be a consensus that volatility in markets will increase leading up to the election (before the mayhem happens, on the actual day, and also in the weeks to come). This makes the Pound interest rate announcement (on Thursday 8pm), and the Non-Farm Payroll announcement (Friday 8:30pm) pale in comparison. My take is that the election has generated far greater anticipation in the financial markets, and these two news events would be a tremor compared to the earthquake that might come.

vix

In the chart above, the VIX has risen steadily for the past week.This is the first time we’ve seen a steady increase in volatility over 7 days; a steady increase like this has not happened for the whole of this year.

POSSIBILITY 4: NEGLIGIBLE MARKET IMPACT (UNLIKELY)

hillarytrumpmemeSource: Kappit.com

With Trump’s tough stance on immigration and trade, his intention to renegotiate the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the mere mention of such a stance would likely send jitters into emerging markets.

Of course, there are those of the camp that America couldn’t care less about a president, because the world is in a state of low-growth and inflation. Experts have said this is a global Japan-style stagflation and that these conditions mirror those in the 1970s.

HOW DID THE MARKETS FARE IN PREVIOUS ELECTIONS?

A Princeton Research Paper found that GDP growth under a Democrat President (Hillary is a Democrat Candidate) is 1.80% higher, on average, than a Republican President (Trump is a Republican Candidate). This suggests that a Hillary win would be more bullish for markets.

Another famous theory by Yale Hirsch states that U.S. stocks see the smallest gains in the year after an election. The market more often improves after the first year following the election year. Ned Davis Research claims that “since 1900, stocks have gained just 3.4% on average in the post-election year, compared with gains of 4.0% in the midterm year, 11.3% in the pre-election year and 9.5% in an election year.” (This is summarized in the graphic below)

yearsSource: Ned Davis Research

 

With Trump consistently trailing behind Hillary just marginally, markets are going to be in a jittery state in the days to come. The last I checked (on 31 oct), the gap has closed to just 2.1% in the polls:

31octresult

 

STRATEGY & COMMENTS

In the most recent FOMC meeting (3rd November 2am SG time), the interest rate remained unchanged, which was expected since they are unlikely to want to rock the markets further just prior to the elections. The next major piece of news is the NFP on Friday, and for traders who have decided to hold any major medium/long-term positions over the election, this could be a good opportunity to take positions at better prices. This is because the NFP is likely to cause price spikes, but markets are likely to stabilise and flat out rather than trend strongly before the US elections next week.

Based on my personal views (this is not any recommendation to follow), I would prefer to take a bearish position (short) on the S&P 500 going into the election, as I feel that there is more downside potential in general, and the market is more “priced in” for a Hillary win, meaning a Trump win would have more spectacular returns. My plan is to make use of the NFP to enter my positions, for example if the NFP causes an intraday bullish spike in prices, I will use the opportunity to accumulate shorts at more favourable prices. This will enable me to reduce my risk and increase my upside.

Good luck, and may the odds be in your favour! 😀

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RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

http://www.270towin.com/1960_Election/
http://www.270towin.com/1988_Election/
https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/election-day
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/when-is-us-election-2016-what-is-the-timetable-for-the-night-and/
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/nbc-wsj-poll-clinton-jumps-nine-point-lead-over-trump-n623131
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/31/a-trump-win-could-put-emerging-markets-in-a-tailspin.html
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=6185252&page=1
http://www.kiplinger.com/article/investing/T043-C008-S003-how-presidential-elections-affect-the-stock-market.html
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/presidentialelectioncycle.asp
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/us-election-donald-trump-victory-stock-markets-sp-republican-party-senate-a7392756.html