August 5, 2016 Modified August 6, see bottom section
In a previous article, it was argued that it was not enough to generate profits over the long term, but rather, that it was necessary to generate positive alpha. By this, meaning that whatever stock trading strategy you might want to use, it had to ultimately outperform the averages. Otherwise, an index fund would have been a better choice. In fact, it's more like any set of investments that could at least beat market averages over the long term would prove to be a better choice.
In a way, you should not mind how you got there doing what, as long as you get there. That is what is important: that you do get there and legally. Nonetheless, you want to put the odds in your favor to extract the maximum you can, or that your trading system will let you have. You stand ready to use any bit of information you may have accumulated over the years, to put your know-how and experience on the line. After all, you will be the one pulling the trigger.
Long term, you simply want to win. I certainly can understand that. And there is a multitude of ways to do so. As there is a multitude of ways to screw it up too. The thing is, in the end, it might turn out to have been your choice which way you wanted to go. Long term, you are playing an upside biased game, it is in your favor. And as funny as it may seem, you will have to work at it to deliberately screw it up.
Could you tell me why someone would accept to lose playing such a game? The system is designed for you to win, at least that is your long-term expectancy. According to some academic financial literature on portfolio management, the long-term expectation is for you to achieve close to market averages by just doing nothing at all, except purchasing your initial stocks or index.
If you do not do your homework, it is not the outside world that should be blamed. Wishing to be on the positive side is not enough, your actions, your trading decisions must do better than just giving you positive returns. Without even a slight positive edge, might as well say an early goodbye to your capital even if it could take some time to see it being depleted. Did you know that I accept all such funds that you would like to throw away in this manner? Just trying to be helpful here.
It Is YOUR Trading Strategy
In the stock market game, you can take any trader/investor role you want, design any kind of trading strategy you might find acceptable. Your primary constraint is probably simply you and the size of your trading account. Any time you hit -100% return on your capital, you are out of the game. You will not only have lost your money, you will also have lost your time, energy, and opportunity. It would be like paying to learn to play something that was not even worthwhile since after all is done, you would have lost the game and your capital.
One unsurprising thing about this game is that you can play with it whichever way you want. It simply doesn't care about your trading methods. And, you might, in the vast majority of cases, be too small to even have any impact or footprint.
In a recent article about Quantopian.com, it was said that they had 85,000 members with some 400,000 trading strategies. This is just one site. If I had to guess, I would say they represented only a small fraction of what is out there. One can't detect their cumulative trading activity. Nonetheless, they are all part of your competition looking for the same advantages you are.
You are not playing against them, just as they are not playing against you. They don't even know you and most probably don't even have the tools to monitor whatever you might have in store. When you play this game, it is mostly against you and the kind of decision surrogate you will use if any. It will be your decision process that will dictate the outcome of your game.
If the foundation or premises you have adopted for your game are faulty in some way, you are still responsible for accepting them. Maybe, more study of your methods might have helped you curtail their negative impact or help you achieve more.
I've presented some crazy systems - see some of the simulations on my site. Well, it's not crazy as such, it's more like what I think other people think about my systems, but in reality, they are just unusual and unorthodox trading strategies. They sound crazy because of the numbers they generate, when in fact they just operate differently. And since they are hard to replicate, they become as if impossible except for a few. As a consequence becomes unbelievable for most, with all that goes with it. Well, it is not so. When I look closer, look at the code, I find them simple, even if for some there is a lot of code to reach that simplicity.
All my trading strategies operate on the basis of: accumulate shares for the long term and trade over the process. It is not complicated and there are a lot of methods to implement such a methodology. That is what all those tests were for, to show that it could be done in many different ways, and this not even including all the variants to the various themes used.
For instance, in the previous article, the chart of interest is chart #3. Here it is again:
#3 Accumulate Using DEVX8 Data Set
(click to enlarge)
Look at the top metrics. Simply incredible. Based on those numbers alone, a $1M stake went up to some $10B. So, the immediate question should be: is this a hoax or what?
The simple answer is: no, it is not. Those were the numbers that came out. The Python program was run in the cloud where also all the price data for the 10 stocks were stored. All I could supply was the code, the recipe to make it happen. And there are no bugs in that code, logical or otherwise.
Of note, the account would have blown up since there was a 340% drawdown. But not if you had put in a starting capital of $10M. Therefore, with $10M, that very scenario becomes possible and would still end with a $10B profit.
At any time you would have wanted to call it quits, you would have then gotten the heavy blue line in the upper panel of the chart. Except for at the beginning where you had the 340% drawdown which would have required to use $3.4M in added capital to support the strategy, your profits grew and grew over almost the entire period. Look at the alpha number or Sharpe ratio, those too, are kind of out of this world. Yet, that strategy is realizable. All it requires is to start with a higher stake, say $10M and up.
Can one push further and reach even higher performance levels? Absolutely. Just put more money into it.
Added August 6th.
The previous paragraph ended with a question. The answer was yes. Just put more money into it.
I don't like to say something and then not show some reasonable corroborating evidence. So that test was done too.
Doubling available capital should close to double the portfolio output as seen in chart #3 above. So, say you put $20M in reserve and also start by using $1M. This way we can compare respective performances.
My present understanding is that this strategy survives and prospers by feeding it money. It does use a lot of leverage and requires nerves of steel to hold on. The reserves are there to reduce the initial drawdown impact. If in the beginning, you have a 500% drawdown, it only means that you would have needed at least 5 more million above your initial $1M to cover it. Hence the reserves...
Nonetheless, even more nerves are needed for when the strategy is building up. Drawdowns from high watermarks become more and more terrifying as you go along. It's understandable, the equation for this is DD*Cap(0)(1+CAGR)t. A 1% change in portfolio value at $10M ($100k) is a lot different from a 1% move at $10B ($100M). And this you will come to see more than quite often, almost on a daily basis once you have reached that level; on the condition, naturally, that you were able to hold on for the bumpy ride. A 10% correction on a $10B account will add up to a $1B paper loss... But by then, hopefully, you will be able to endure, since there is still another potential $10B coming. You will need to figure out if you would wish to hold on or not before big drawdowns happen since for sure they will.
The trading strategy governing chart #3 talks mostly about your ability to borrow and maintain your portfolio afloat. But still, if you ever decided to quit the game, it would be better to do so even before you start. And therefore, not even play that game. Because once you have started, you will see red, you will see drawdowns. And you better be equipped to support them, otherwise, you will suffer losses by withdrawing before it's time, and at the worst time.
Nonetheless, at whatever time you chose to quit, you will get the dark blue line in the upper chart panel. And that does not sound so bad the more you look at the right side of the chart. It did end up with a liquidating value of some $20B in profits.
#4 Doubling Reserves
(click to enlarge)
Note that, for me, this strategy is just at an exploratory development stage. I first wanted to see if it was feasible. Then study its potential, strengths, weaknesses, and controllability in order to bring it down to a level more suitable to my temperament and means. There are a lot of ways to improve on what simply started as a: "what would this do?" strategy.