- iM-Vanguard Systems use a combination of Vanguard bond- and stock-funds, and switch assets according to stock-market climate.
- Backtests show that models using index funds produce better returns when a dynamic asset allocation strategy is employed (System1) than buy-and-hold.
- Higher returns can be obtained from actively managed Vanguard funds with dynamic asset allocation (System2 and System3). System3 uses only two stock funds and one intermediate-term bond fund.
The dynamic asset allocation strategy requires that during up-market periods more money is allocated to stock funds than bond funds, and during down-market periods more money is allocated to bond funds than stock funds.
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A reliable source for recession forecasting is the unemployment rate, which can provide signals for the beginnings and ends of recessions. The unemployment rate model (article link), updated with the February figure of 5.2%, does not signal a recession now.
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The iM-USMV Investor Portfolio consists of the four quarterly displaced Best12(USMV)-Investor models at iMarketSignals. The purpose of the combination model is to check whether our hypothesis – ranking the holdings of USMV, the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility ETF, and selecting a portfolio of the 12 top ranked stocks, provides higher returns for the portfolio than for the underlying ETF – is supported by the actual performances of the model over longer period of time.
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- Stock market timing models usually provide discreet signals indicating whether to be in or out of the market.
- A better approach with potentially less risk is to stage investments over time when entering or exiting the market.
- Three market timing models with low correlation to each other are used in combination to provide staged signals, indicating stock market investment in 25% increments from 0% to 100%.
A reliable source for recession forecasting is the unemployment rate, which can provide signals for the beginnings and ends of recessions. The unemployment rate model (article link), updated with the January figure of 5.7%, does not signal a recession now.
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- Currently the yield of 30-year US Treasury Bonds is at its lowest level ever.
- The bond-market rally which began at the beginning of 2014 is near its end.
- Some upside for long Treasury bonds is still possible, but not much.
A reliable source for recession forecasting is the unemployment rate, which can provide signals for the beginnings and ends of recessions. The unemployment rate model (article link), updated with the December figure of 5.6%, does not signal a recession now.
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In October 2014 the FED announced that QE has ended and that it is keeping record low interest rates for “a considerable time”. The question arises “When will the FED increase interest rates?” Some analysts are speculating for rate hikes in April or May this year. We believe that history may provide better guidance.
- Based on its historic trend, the stock market appears to be marginally overvalued.
- The historic trend suggests a probable real gain of about 20% over the next five years.
- Analysts’ long-term forecasts of stock returns made 3 years ago appear to have been unrealistically low.
- The Shiller Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings Ratio is relatively high (but not extremely high), and a market correction is possible.
Best8(S&P500 Min-Volatility) Large-Cap Portfolio Management System With S&P 500 Minimum Volatility Stocks
This model trades in highly liquid large-cap stocks selected from those considered to be minimum volatility stocks of the S&P 500 Index. It produced a simulated survivorship bias free average annual return of about 36% from Jan-2000 to end of Dec-2014.
Minimum volatility stocks should provide exposure to the stock market with potentially less risk, seeking to benefit from what is known as the low-volatility anomaly. Consequently, they should show reduced losses during declining markets, but should also show lower gains during rising markets. However, our backtests show that better returns than the broader market can be obtained under all market conditions by selecting 8 of the highest ranked stocks of a universe made up from minimum volatility stocks of the S&P 500.
The backtest reported in this article showed that ranking the holdings of USMV, the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility ETF, and selecting a portfolio of the 12 top ranked stocks, provided higher returns for the buy&hold portfolio than for the underlying ETF. To test these findings out-of-sample we launched the Best12(USMV)-July-2014on Jun-30-2014 and the first sister model Best12(USMV)-Oct-2014 on Sep-29-2014. Holdings and performance have been published weekly on our website since then. So far to Dec-15-2014 these portfolios have gained 19.2% (6.8%) and 10.5% (5.3%), respectively. (USMV gains are in brackets.) The test will be expanded by the launch on Jan-5-2015 of the second of the three sister models quarterly displaced, the Best12(USMV)-Jan-2015, which again will consist of the 12 highest ranked stocks of the then point-in-time holdings of USMV.
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We have shown that higher retirement savings are possible with our iM(MAC-Vang) and iM(MAC-CREF) models that dynamically adjust bond/stock asset allocation using Vanguard or TIAA-CREF Funds respectively. We make use of the MAC-system to determine the allocation switch points depending on market trends. The backtest of the MAC-system stretches back almost 65 years. We are also proponents that market models should have a minimum number of variables to avoid over-optimization and possible future model breakdown. The MAC-system is such a minimized system and its robustness has been confirmed by an independent party.
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Trading the Dividend Growth Stocks of the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund: Simulated Performance of iM’s Best10(VDIGX)
Ranking the holdings of the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund VDIGX and selecting a portfolio of the highest ten ranked stocks provided much higher returns for the portfolio than for the underlying fund. A simulation over the time period (6/30/14 to 12/8/14) which selects periodically the 10 highest ranked stocks shows a 15.3% return while VDIGX gained 7.0%.
A previous study found that a dynamic asset allocation strategy with Vanguard index funds produced better returns than models with static asset allocations. Changing asset allocation according to stock-market climate produced much higher returns with less risk. TIAA-CREF’s variable annuity accounts can similarly be used to improve returns for participants. Results for three models with dynamic asset allocation are provided whose performance and risk measurements are all better than those of the variable annuity accounts alone, or static combinations of those accounts.
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For what is considered to be a lagging indicator of the economy, the unemployment rate provides surprisingly good signals for the beginnings and ends of recessions. We have developed a model that uses unemployment figures to produce these signals and to determine the probability of when a recession may start. We conclude, based on the historic evidence of our unemployment-derived indicators, that there will be no recession in the near future.
Since end of June 2014 we provided updates of our Best12(USMV) at iM, a tax efficient model which holds positions normally for at least one year. Concurrently we were testing the Best12(USMV)-Trader model. The only difference between the two models is that the Trader is not restricted to hold stocks for a 1-year minimum period and has an additional sell rule based on rank. We backtested the Trader for various periods and found its returns to be to be marginally higher than that of the tax efficient Best12(USMV) model. However, returns were more consistent.
Three months ago we introduced the iM-Best12(USMV) model, which still holds the then twelve best ranked stocks selected from the holdings of USMV, the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility ETF. So far this portfolio has gained 8.2%, while USMV is up a mere 2.2%, confirming the results of the backtest performed over a relative short period. The out-of-sample test will be expanded by the launch of the second of three sister models quarterly displaced, the Best12(USMV)-Oct-2014, which again will consist of the 12 highest ranked stocks of the then point-in-time holdings of USMV.
Vanguard Funds With Dynamic Asset Allocation: Which is the Asset Allocation “that’s right for your situation”?
Performance and risk measures are given for six iM(MAC-Vang) models with various asset allocations which use a combination of Vanguard bond- and stock-funds, and switch assets according to stock-market climate.
In continuation of our previous article “How Good are Vanguard’s LifeStrategy Funds? Much Better Returns From Vanguard Funds with iM’s (MAC-Vang)20/80” we show that exceptionally high returns can be obtained from Vanguard funds, when a dynamic asset allocation strategy is employed, and actively managed funds instead of index funds are used. Using a combination of bond-, stock-, and sector-funds in the model, and switching asset allocation according to stock-market climate, provided an annualized average return of over 15% for the backtest period Jan-2000 to Jul-2014.
How Good are Vanguard’s LifeStrategy Funds? Much Better Returns From Vanguard Funds with iM’s (MAC-Vang)20/80
“Studies have shown that your asset allocation has a bigger impact on your long-term returns than any specific fund you pick. So why not pick a Vanguard LifeStrategy Fund that has asset allocation built in?” This is the opening statement on a Vanguard web-page, which also lists other potential benefits of investing in such a fund. The historic performance of the LifeStrategy Moderate Growth Fund was analyzed from Jan-2000 onward, and it is very clear from the analysis that this was a high risk investment with low returns. An alternative investment model with Vanguard funds is proposed which would have produced much higher returns with less risk.