The Long Term Stock Market Timing Return Since 1871
Last week, we wrote about S&P 500 rolling 10 to 20 years returns for over 100 years (see April 17, 2017: Risk vs. Volatility: Long Term Stock Market Returns). It’s natural to ask how active investment strategies can improve returns and/or reduce risk (or overall volatility). As many have known, we have advocated strategies that are based on long term stock market valuation metrics (see March 13, 2017: Long Term Stock Valuation Review, for example) or long term stock timing such as S&P 500 total return 200 days (10 month) moving average (see February 20, 2017: Long Term Stock Timing Based Portfolios And Their Roles). In this newsletter, we will look at how the 10-month (or 200 days) moving average based portfolio on S&P 500 has performed for this long period of time.
The moving average portfolio is very simple: at each month end, look at the S&P 500 total return (i.e. not just index price, but with dividend reinvested) and its 10 month moving average. If the total return is above the moving average, it invests in S&P 500, otherwise, it just invests in cash. In this study, we further assume cash does not generate any extra return, an assumption we will discuss later.
Using the same Shiller’s monthly S&P 500 index data which spans from 1871 to the end of 2016, we construct a 10-month moving average of S&P 500 total return (dividend reinvested) based portfolio, what we find is the following:
Or from 10/1871 to 12/2016, the 10-month moving average based portfolio generated 9.73% annualized return (compound aggregate, not simple average return), compared with S&P 500’s 9.57% annualized total return.
Furthermore, the moving average portfolio only incurred less than 1/3 of the maximum drawdown, the most present instance is what happened from 2008 t 2009: S&P 500 had a over 55% maximum loss (drawdown) from a peak to a trough while the moving average one only had 22%, which occurred in 1990, not in 2008-2009 period (it had 17% maximum drawdown at that period).
So for over 145 years, the 10-month moving average based timing portfolio not only returned better, but with much less (1/3) risk (or volatility).
We also look at the rolling 10, 15 and 20 years returns of this moving average portfolio, compared with those for S&P 500 mentioned last time. Here is what we found:
The moving average rolling 10 years annual returns are now improved: there was never a negative rolling 10 year return. The minimum annual return for rolling 10 year periods is 0.9%, instead of -4%. Here are the monthly return data:
|S&P Rolling 10 Yr||S&P Rolling 15 Yr||S&P Rolling 20 Yr||MA Rolling 10 Yr||MA Rolling 15 Yr||MA Rolling 20 Yr|
MA: Moving Average
In fact, for the rolling 10 year period, the annualized return of -4% vs. moving average (MA)’s annualized return of 0.9% translates over 43% compound 10 year return difference: the -4% annual return for 10 years. This is certainly not a short term volatility issue, it’s a very meaningful risk.
However, the story does not end here. Let’s look at how the portfolio performed from 1990 to 1999:
In fact, in this 10 year period, the market timing portfolio underperformed the index! No wonder in that period, the financial media was full of the market timing bashing articles. In fact, a 10 year is a long enough period where people tend to forget about the history.
The 145 year period in this study is the longest period when S&P 500 has data. It’s indisputable that a simple moving average based market timing strategy can be an effective tool to reduce risk. Market timing is a sensitive and controversial topic, partly due to the bias in financial media and industry, and partly due to its many inferior forms and most importantly, partly due to its long term nature: sometimes, such strategies can underperform for as long as 10, 15 and even 20 years.
The above study doesn’t take cash return into account. Furthermore, using bonds or total return bond fund portfolios as cash substitute can boost overall portfolio annual return by 1-2% (see, P SMA 200d VFINX Total Return Bond As Cash Monthly portfolio or February 20, 2017: Long Term Stock Timing Based Portfolios And Their Roles newsletter.
At this moment, we are seeing a similar pattern as in 1990s: the current bull market has been running for over 7 years. Investors have started to lose patience in risk management strategies. But the long term history will again teach them the same lesson once the current market cycle ends.
The result of the French election turns out to be more encouraging and investors are again flocking to risk assets. As last quarter’s earnings start to pour in, markets are more or less driven by this short term event. Our position is still that investors should not be carried away by these short term events and should follow a well defined investment strategy. As we stated many times, consistency and proper risk management are the key factors to determine the outcome of investments in the long term. We just need to constantly remind ourselves even when markets are in favor.
For more detailed asset trend scores, please refer to 360° Market Overview.
Now that the Trump administration is officially sworn in, the new president is facing the reality to deliver his many promises to make substantial changes. As the nation is posed to invest, the most important factor to watch is how productive the investments will be. Simply put, productive investments will result in better return on investment (ROI), tangibly or intangibly. They should also increase productivity that in turns will improve our standard of living. Capital misallocation can result in a higher growth but might not improve the real standard of living, which is the ultimate goal of economic activities. Whether the new president can truly achieve this goal is still yet to be seen. One thing is certain: we will see more market volatilities.
In terms of investments, U.S. stock valuation is at a historically high level. It is thus not a good time to take excessive risk. However, we remain optimistic on U.S. economy in the long term and believe much better investment opportunities will arise in the future.
We again would like to stress for any new investor and new money, the best way to step into this kind of markets is through dollar cost average (DCA), i.e. invest and/or follow a model portfolio in several phases (such as 2 or 3 months) instead of the whole sum at one shot.
- April 17, 2017: Risk vs. Volatility: Long Term Stock Market Returns
- April 10, 2017: Total Return Bond ETFs And Portfolios
- April 3, 2017: Quarter End Asset Trend Review
- March 27, 2017: Practical Consideration For IRAs And 401k Accounts
- March 20, 2017: Fund Fees: That’s (Still) Outrageous
- March 13, 2017: Long Term Stock Valuation Review
- March 6, 2017: Asset Classes for Retirement Investments
- February 27, 2017: Fidelity Total Bond Fund Review
- February 20, 2017: Long Term Stock Timing Based Portfolios And Their Roles
- February 13, 2017: Alternative Investment Portfolios Review
- February 6, 2017: Tax Free Municipal Bond Investments Review
- January 30, 2017: Brokerage Specific Conservative Portfolios
- January 23, 2017: Fixed Income Portfolio Review
- January 16, 2017: Long Term Trend Following Portfolio Review
- January 9, 2017: Tactical Asset Allocation Review
- January 3, 2017: Strategic Asset Allocation Review
- December 12, 2016: Enhanced Index Funds
- December 5, 2016: Review Of Broad Base Core Mutual Funds For Brokerages
- November 28, 2016: Core Index ETFs Review
- November 21, 2016: International Exposure Of U.S. Large Companies
- November 14, 2016: Asset Trends After The Election
- November 7, 2016: Rising Rate And Current Bond Trend
- October 31, 2016: Economy Power And Long Term Stock Returns
- October 24, 2016: Current Commodity Trend And Managed Futures
- October 17, 2016: Investment Mistakes And Good Or Bad Investment Strategies
- October 10, 2016: Momentum Investing Review
- October 3, 2016: Survey & Feedback
- September 26, 2016: Fixed Income Investing: Actively Managed Funds vs. Index Funds
- September 19, 2016: Stock Investing: Actively Managed Funds vs. Index Funds
- September 12, 2016: Newsletter Update
- September 5, 2016: Overvalued Markets And Long Term Timing Strategies
- August 29, 2016: Your 401K Finally Draws Attention
- August 22, 2016: Inflation Protected Securities TIPS For Current Overvalued Markets
- August 15, 2016: Risk On: Emerging Market Stocks And Small Cap Stocks
- August 8, 2016: Portfolio Construction Using Stock ETFs And Bond Mutual Funds
- August 1, 2016: Adding Value To Your Own Investments
- July 25, 2016: Tactical Asset Allocation Funds Review
- July 18, 2016: Strategic Asset Allocation & Lazy Portfolio Review
- July 11, 2016: Asset Trend Review
- June 27, 2016: Secular Cycles For Tactical And Strategic Investment Strategies
- June 20, 2016: A World of Debt
- June 13, 2016: Managed Futures For Portfolio Building
- June 6, 2016: Newsletter Summary
- May 30, 2016: Swensen Portfolio And Permanent Portfolios
- May 23, 2016: AAII Article And Some Web Changes
- May 16, 2016: The PIMCO (Dis)Advantages
- May 9, 2016: Boost Your Dull Summer Investments
- May 2, 2016: Low Cost Index Fund Investing
- April 25, 2016: Tax Free Municipal Bond Funds & Portfolios
- April 18, 2016: Asset Class Trend Review
- April 11, 2016: Construction of Sound And Conservative Portfolios
- March 28, 2016: Total Return Bond ETFs Review
- March 21, 2016: Small And Large Company Stock Performance In Different Economic Expansion Cycles
- March 14, 2016: Are Tactical And Timing Strategies Losing Steam?
- March 7, 2016: Defined Maturity Bond Fund Analysis
- February 29, 2016: Smart Strategic Asset Allocation Rebalance When Market Trend Changes
- February 22, 2016: Be Cash Smart
- February 15, 2016: Bond ETF Portfolios
- February 8, 2016: Newsletter Collection Update
- February 1, 2016: Total Return Bond Fund Portfolios In A Volatile Period
- January 25, 2016: Alternative Portfolios Review
- January 18, 2016: Strategic Asset Allocation: A Cautious Outlook
- January 11, 2016: Review Of Trend Following Tactical Asset Allocation
- January 4, 2016: What Worked And Didn’t In 2015
- December 21, 2015: Distressed Assets
- December 14, 2015: High Yield Bonds And Their Correlation With Stocks
- December 7, 2015: Diversification And Global Allocation
- November 30, 2015: Investors and Speculators Combined
- November 23, 2015: Active Stock Fund Performance Consistency
- November 16, 2015: Permanent, Risk Parity And Alternative Portfolios Review
- November 9, 2015: Broad Base Core Mutual Fund Review
- November 2, 2015: Broad Base Index Core ETFs Review
- October 26, 2015: Total Return Bond Fund Review
- October 19, 2015: Advanced Portfolio Review
- October 12, 2015: What About Commodities?
- October 5, 2015: Core Satellite Portfolios In A 401k Account
- September 28, 2015: Risk Managed Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolios Revisited
- September 21, 2015: Quest For The Best Investment Strategy
- September 14, 2015: Core Satellite Portfolios In Market Turmoil
- September 7, 2015: Market Rout Creates An Opportunity to Reposition Your Portfolios
- August 31, 2015: Review of Asset Allocation Funds and Portfolios
- August 24, 2015: Market Rout And Your Portfolios
- August 17, 2015: ETF or Mutual Fund Based Portfolios
- August 10, 2015: Updated Newsletter Collection
- August 3, 2015: Slippery Asset Trends
- July 27, 2015: Performance Dispersion Among Momentum Based Portfolios
- July 20, 2015: Global Balanced Portfolio Benchmarks
- July 13, 2015: Pain in Tactical Portfolios
- July 6, 2015: Fixed Income Total Return Bond Funds In Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolios
- June 29, 2015: Core ETF Commission Free Portfolios
- June 22, 2015: Secular Asset Trends
- June 15, 2015: Giving Up Bonds?
- June 1, 2015: Summer Blues?
- May 26, 2015: Cash, Bonds and Stocks In A Rising Rate Environment
- May 18, 2015: Portfolio Update
- May 11, 2015: Pain in Fixed Income?
- May 4, 2015: The Balanced Stock and Long Term Treasury Bond Portfolios
- April 27, 2015: Long Term Treasury Bond Behavior
- April 20, 2015: 529 College Savings Plan Rebalance Policy Change
- April 13, 2015: Total Return Bond Funds As Smart Cash
- April 6, 2015: The Low Return Environment
- March 30, 2015: Brokerage Specific Core Mutual Fund Portfolios 2
- March 23, 2015: Investment Arithmetic for Long Term Investments
- March 16, 2015: Brokerage Specific Core Mutual Fund Portfolios
- March 9, 2015: Newsletter Collection Update
- March 2, 2015: Total Return Bond ETFs
- February 23, 2015: Why Is Global Tactical Asset Allocation Not Popular?
- February 16, 2015: Where Are Permanent Portfolios Going?
- February 9, 2015: How Have Asset Allocation Funds Done?
- February 2, 2015: Risk Management Everywhere
- January 26, 2015: Composite Portfolios Review
- January 19, 2015: Fixed Income Investing Review
- January 12, 2015: How Does Trend Following Tactical Asset Allocation Strategy Deliver Returns
- January 5, 2015: When Forecast Fails
- December 22, 2014: Long Term Asset Returns: How Long Is Long?
- December 15, 2014: Beaten Down Assets
- December 8, 2014: Implementing Core Asset Portfolios In a Brokerage
- December 1, 2014: Two Key Issues of Investment Strategies
- November 24, 2014: Holiday Readings
- November 17, 2014: Retirement Spending Portfolios Update
- November 10, 2014: Fixed Income Or Cash
- November 3, 2014: Asset Trend Review
- October 27, 2014: Investment Loss, Mistakes And Market Cycles
- October 20, 2014: Strategic Portfolios With Managed Volatility
- October 13, 2014: Embrace Volatility
- October 6, 2014: Tips For 401k Open Enrollment
- September 29, 2014: What Can We Learn From Bill Gross’ Departure From PIMCO?
- September 22, 2014: Why Total Return Bond Funds?
- September 15, 2014: Equity And Total Return Bond Fund Composite Portfolios
- September 8, 2014: Momentum Based Portfolios Review
- September 1, 2014: Risk & Diversification: Mint.com Interview
- August 25, 2014: Remember Risk
- August 18, 2014: Consistency, The Most Important Edge In Investing: Tactical Case
- August 11, 2014: What To Do In Overvalued Stock Markets
- August 4, 2014: Is This The Peak Or Correction?
- July 28, 2014: Stock Musings
- July 21, 2014: Permanent Portfolios & Four Pillar Foundation Based Framework
- July 14, 2014: Composite Portfolios Review
- July 7, 2014: Portfolio Behavior During Market Corrections
- June 30, 2014: Half Year Brokerage ETF and Mutual Fund Portfolios Review
- June 23, 2014: Newsletter Collection Update
- June 16, 2014: There Are Always Lottery Winners
- June 9, 2014: The Arithmetic of Investment Mistakes
- June 2, 2014: Tips On Portfolio Rebalance
- May 26, 2014: In Praise Of Low Cost Core Asset Class Based Portfolios
- May 19, 2014: Consistency, The Most Important Edge In Investing: Strategic Case
- May 12, 2014: How To Handle An Elevated Overvalued Market
- May 5, 2014: Asset Allocation Funds Review
- April 28, 2014: Now The Economy Backs To The ‘Old Normal’, Should Our Investments Too?
- April 21, 2014: Total Return Bond Investing In The Current Market Environment
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