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Even Advisors are promoting better Risk Management – Down Markets Matter!

SmartStops comment:  We couldn’t agree more!  It is exactly why we brought this service to the marketplace.

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http://www.onwallstreet.com/video/?id=2679576&page=1

Look at the money protected by SmartStops recently on AAPL, CMG, NFLX etc.

A New Risk Indicator To Sidestep Market Downturns: Is It Better Than VIX?

By Chris Georgopoulos, originally published on 11/14/11

Without question the most popular model to predict market crashes is the VIX, commonly referred to as the “Fear Gauge,” a market index that measures the implied volatility of the S&P 500 index options. Its concept is quite simple, when the uncertainty and fear among investors rises, they commonly run to the S&P 500 options to either hedge or speculate. The increased interest in the options usually leads to higher premiums and as the premiums increase so does the VIX. However, predicting the future isn’t 100% accurate, most of the time it’s not even close. Every forecasting model has its flaws and the VIX is not an exception. There are many problems skeptics have found with the VIX such as; its population study is limited to only the 500 stocks of the S&P 500 and” {the} model is similar to that of plain-vanilla measures, such as simple past volatility” (Wikipedia). A blog post on sensibleinvestments.com summarized the VIX as “simply an indicator of actual volatility in the market but one that is very sensitive to changes in actual volatility particularly if it is on the downside.” Is there a better way?

An elementary statistics theory states that the larger the population size, the greater the likelihood that the sample will be represented. If markets are graded by the performance of popular indexes such as the S&P 500, why limit a forecasting model’s population to only 500 stocks? The economy has become global; interactions from every corner of the world’s businesses affect every other business. If there is a model that forecasts market direction, should it limit itself to just the largest companies? As for only using a month or two of short term option premiums to garner a prediction, as the VIX does, it seems to limit itself to only a single variable. Instead of short term options premiums and limited samples what if we could measure real-time individual stock trend alerts on thousands of domestic and foreign stocks and ETFs? Or simply what if we analyzed the micro components (every stock) to develop a macro forecast of the market based off trends and risk?

By studying the history of risk alerts from SmartStops.net, an intelligent risk management service, two proven alternatives to the VIX were found. SmartStops.net has developed their own proprietary risk model that monitors the trends and risks to over 4,000 of the most popular stocks and ETFs. If the risks grow on any individual investment SmartStops.net alert their subscribers with both long and short term exit triggers. However not only do these alerts help individual and institutional investors manage specific investment risk, the reviews of the alerts themselves have predictive capabilities. By back-testing every alert that SmartStops.net has issued from their inception versus the S&P 500 performance, there is proof of this and the results speak for themselves.


There have only been 7 days for which the amount of Long-Term Exit Triggers (stop alerts) as a percentage of every stock and ETF covered by SmartStops.net has been over 20%. The subsequent market action of the S&P 500 has averaged a negative return for the time periods of 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and a year. The 6 month average return is over -7% and when examined from the absolute lows of the S&P 500, the returns average over -19%. If you remove the knee-jerk market reactions caused by “Flash Crash” on 5-6-2010, the returns are even lower.
Another metric offered by SmartStops.net is their SRBI(tm) (SmartStops Risk Barometer Index); this index measures the current percentage of stocks and ETFs that are in “Above Normal Risk” state (ANR) divided by the 100 day average above normal risk percent. By definition, a stock that is listed ANR experienced a risk alert as its last SmartStop alert identifying a downtrend. Conversely, a stock that is listed in a “Normal Risk State” experienced a reentry alert as its last SmartStop alert indicating trading strength and an upward trend. Back-testing historical SRBI data since inception shows that the repercussions to the market when the percentage of downtrends increases to over 40% of all stocks and ETFs covered are profound. Below you will see that there have been only five occasions where this has happened. In each case the S&P returns for the following year were all negative.

Is this a better way?

Before a concrete conclusion can be determined, the predictive capabilities of the VIX must also be analyzed. Read More…

How Can Advisors Build a More Modern Portfolio?

Originally published By Matt Ackermann on May 16, 2012 at OnWallStreet.com  

SmartStops comment:   The fear of investing in traditional assets due to volatility can be minimized for an advisor’s clients by the use of a SmartStops methodology.  SmartStops was created because of the need for a more Modern Portfolio approach that could better manage traditional assets.      

 How Can Advisors Build a More Modern Portfolio?

Following a pair of bear markets, advisors know the days of buy-and-hold investors with 60/40 portfolio allocations are over.

From the mass affluent to the ultra-wealthy, investors want more than just equities and fixed income in their portfolios. Clients expect their advisors to bring innovative alternative investments to the table.

“A lot of investors and advisors have moved their assets to cash or into lower yielding asset classes,” said David L. Giunta, the president and chief executive officer of Natixis Global Asset Management’s U.S. distribution. “To get them off the sidelines, advisors can’t just bring these clients back to traditional approaches. There is just too much volatility.”

According to the 2012 Natixis Global Asset Management U.S. Advisor survey, the global financial crisis and uncertain market recovery has accelerated interest in alternative investing. According to the survey, 49% of advisors are uncertain that the traditional 60/40 allocation between stocks and bonds is still relevant, and 23% said the traditional approach isn’t close to meeting the needs of investors in contemporary markets.

But if a 60/40 allocation is no longer relevant, what is the right mix?

Dick Pfister, an executive vice president and managing director of global sales and consulting at Altegris Investments, A La Jolla, Calif., based provider of alternative investments, said modern portfolio theory has shifted dramatically in the past decade. He said that large institutional investors and endowments have “dramatically” increased their allocation to alternative investments.

According to a national study of endowments by the National Association of College and University Business Owners, the average endowment had 52% of its portfolio investments in alternative assets in 2010, up from 24% in 2002.

Pfister said he doesn’t expect advisors to shift their portfolios that dramatically, but anywhere from 10% to 35% of an individual investor’s portfolio should be held in alternatives.

“We are seeing a lot more on the upper end of that range,” he said. “With more mutual funds trading like hedge funds, more people are allocating to the alternative space.”

Giunta said clients are getting more comfortable with alternative investing because more alternative options are available within the comfortable and familiar confines of a mutual fund, but he says the right portfolio allocation varies on a client-by-client basis.

“We have to create portfolios based on each risk and volatility scenario,” he said. “Advisors need to talk to their clients and understand how much of a dip they can stand. Advisors need to be having those conversations and educating their clients about a variety of alternative options.”

Read More…

The New Oil Dynamics

originally posted by Tony Daltorio at http://wallstreetmess.blogspot.com/

The oil market changed back in 2009, but most Americans did not notice.

That was the year, for the first time, China temporarily surpassed the United States as Saudi Arabia’s biggest and most important customer.

At the time, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said “Ten years ago, China imported relatively little crude oil from us. Now, it is one of our top three markets, and is the fastest growing market for us globally.” He added that this showed the increasing “depth of Saudi-Chinese relations”.

Today, when oil tankers leave Saudi ports with their load of crude oil, they increasingly travel eastward to the rapidly growing economies of Asia rather than to the established markets of western nations.

When looked at historically, this new trend is significant. Remember that the most of the oil industries in the Middle East were originally set up by western companies with the sole aim of providing oil for western economies.

The day when Saudi oil exports to China permanently overtake those to the U.S. has not arrived yet.  But it will soon. Read More…

Hedge fund leverage in the industry – how its grown

SmartStops comment:   Who watches out for the little guy?

A chart from MIT’s Andrew Lo of the growth of assets and hedge fund leverage over the last 20 years. You can see the expanding leverage in the 2001-2005 period.  originally posted at Infectious Greed blog.

Hedge Fund Leverage how-its-grown

Hedge_Fund_Leverage how-its-grown

European Default Inevitable — Sell Your Gold?

By Christopher Georgopoulos

 What if, hypothetically, fear of a Greek default cannot be contained? What will be the aftermath to the markets? To gold?

 In the prequel to this article (European Default Inevitable — Sell Your Gold?), I discussed the fact that safe-haven-seeking investors could be in for a surprise when they run to buy gold after a Greek default and find huge sellers in the form of European sovereign nations. That article focused on events that would occur if a Greek default could be contained and the contagion that’s brought so much fear to the global system could be defeated. But what if, hypothetically, that fear cannot be contained? How will it happen, and what will be the aftermath to the markets? To gold?

The first signs of a detrimental contagion will be surprise losses, initially centered within the European banks and financial institutions. Articles such as, “European Stress Tests Underestimated Greek Exposure” will catch front-page attention. Quickly after, multiple small banks will become insolvent and the names of those banks — which many Americans have never heard of — will become as well-known as Citibank (C). Those defaults will spread to the larger European institutions that many of us know, and emergency midnight conferences will be highlighted on CNBC wherein the global financial community will be assured that all is sound. Sooner than later, a major default of one of these institutions will be revealed, and the bomb will be detonated.

This is when a 2008-type Lehman event reemerges, but this time on steroids. The fear driven from individual financial institutions will quickly morph into a fear for the nations of Europe. This fear will be derived from the recent questions concerning the lack of growth to combat their immense debt-to-revenues ratios. Anyone holding the bonds of these debt-ridden countries (i.e. Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy) will panic and sell, driving their yields even higher and their credit-worthiness even lower. Those countries will find that trying to fund their needs through bond markets has become even harder and more expensive, and their risk of default will skyrocket. Deep recessions will set in as they will impose even deeper austerity plans, and unemployment — already high — will grow. Because these country’s economies are co-dependent upon each other as trading partners and consumers, even the more financially stable countries will be adversely affected. The viability of the entire Union will be questioned, their currency devalued, and talk of secession will be popular. Even worse, the spread of these losses will not be restricted by their coastal boundaries. Many American and global banks still have exposure to their European counterparts as well as money market and mutual funds. New losses, which could include massive losses on European credit default swaps, must be accounted for, which could cause a new round of credit freezes. Just like a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, the foundation of the rapidly spreading fear will be a lack of confidence. Although this time around the solution won’t be as easy: Who will have the money to back-stop the back-stoppers?

If this were the scenario, the panic that the markets around the world would experience would be historic. The first wave of heavy selling (besides the aforementioned European bonds and stocks) would be centered in your most risky investments — the high-yielding and high-return emerging markets. Equities of the most stable markets would quickly follow. Money would flow from there to the “safest” of investments, such as US treasuries, US currency, and gold. As mentioned in my previous article, the price of gold would initially fall as Germany and the ECB try to contain the Greek default, but if the world’s confidence erodes and the defaults spread, the gold markets would once again be one of the few safe alternatives and could offer substantial upside.

The coming volatility of the markets could be unprecedented and swift. My firm has highlighted that the risks of serious market deprecation are likely with its SmartStops Risk Barometer Indicator.

SmartStops Risk Barometer Indicator (SRBI)

You need to monitor the SPDR gold Trust (GLD), SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), Rydex Currency Shares Euro Trust (FXE) and the Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF (VGK).

GOP To Fed: Let Economy Fail

from posting at  Capital Gains and Games , author is Stan Collender

 The headline above is not what GOP congressional leaders actually said today to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, but they might just as well have used that precise language in the letter CNBC reports they sent to the Fed. According to CNBC, the letter instructed the Fed “to refrain from further ‘intervention’ in the economy. In other words, now that the GOP has made it all but impossible for fiscal policy to be used to improve they economy, they want to make sure that the only other tool the government has at its disposal — monetary policy — isn’t used either. Why take on the Fed? The Republicans have some direct control over fiscal policy because they can either refuse to consider a proposal in the House where they are in the majority or can filibuster legislation in the Senate where they are in the minority. Because the Fed is an independent agency, the GOP can only do what they did today in the letter by threatening to bring down the wrath of god if it dares take any action to get the economy moving. If you’re surprised by this you haven’t been reading CG&G. I first posted back in August 2010 that Bernanke had “painted a big bulls eye on the Federal Reserve” when he spoke at the annual conference in Jackson, Wyoming, about the Fed providing additional stimulus if the economy needs it. My exact words were: It’s not at all clear, however, whether Bernanke realizes that the same political pressure that has brought fiscal policy to a standstill in Washington is very likely to be applied to the Fed if it decides to move forward. With Republican policymakers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory this November, there is every reason to expect that the GOP will be equally as opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better, and that Republicans will openly and virulently criticize the Fed for even thinking about it. The criticism is likely to come both before any action is taken to try to stop it from happening and afterwards to make the Fed think twice about doing more. Three months later, I referred back to that exact post when a number of GOP economists and political strategists began to criticize the Fed exactly as predicted. Today’s letter is far worse than anything that happened last November. This warning is directly from the Republican congressional leadership instead of just outside economists and strategists, and the letter is almost sinister and ominous in its tone. The treat that terrible things will come to those who help the economy when the GOP is not in charge of the White House sounds very real. My question: If Rick Perry — one of the wanna-be GOP candidates for president — says that Bernanke’s actions to date have been treasonous, what do you call today’s Republican demand that the federal agency with the legal responsibility and the potential power to help GDP grow and unemployment to fall not do anything to help the American economy?

BS is the mildest term I can think of for this situation.

Know when to Hold ‘em, Know when to Fold ‘em

SmartStops comment:   Its why this service was brought to fruition.  Follow SmartStops and you can be protected before you lose it all. 

Unprecedented Monthly Volume Sell-Off Suggests Now’s the Time to Take Shelter – published at Minyanville by Kevin A. Tuttle

Do not concern yourself if the market goes up today, tomorrow, or a month from now. The risk of entering is not worth the reward.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of speaking with a very prominent European money manager – overseeing hundreds of billions – about the “across-the-pond” financial crisis unwind and looming hazard of a potential domino-effect coming to fruition. Without rehashing the entire conversation, the consensus is not “if,” it’s “when” will the developing pressure finally blow. He actually went so far as to say it could truly begin unraveling within the next few weeks considering the catalysts currently in play.

The intent of providing the conversation synopsis is not for sake of fear, but understanding the potential ramifications. About three years ago, in one of my firm’s quarterly reports, we opined on a unique situation in regard to the GDP measurements of Global Nations. It stated the unprecedented growth statistics from the 56 nations tracked. “History is currently being made in the sense that all the globally tracked economic growth nations (56), every one… 100%…, are showing expansion.” This lead to my next comment… “If the economic cycle pendulum swings in both directions what would happen if the inverse occurred?” Are 2011/2012 the years we are about to find out? Maybe that’s somewhat extreme, but yet… is it possible?

We at my firm do not pretend to be intelligent enough to figure out all the nuances, catalysts, causes and reasons why the markets could fall apart; we’ll leave it to the team of economists and officials to attempt to sort that out. What we do instead is try to determine when the storm is coming and how to take shelter, which brings me to my point: Now is the time. Take shelter! Do not concern yourself if the market goes up today, tomorrow or a month from now. Clarity is key! Would you sail your boat into rocky waters with a potential hurricane looming because of your love of sailing? Is the risk worth the reward? For some, maybe; but for most, probably not.

S&P 500 Index

Since the “2011 Channel of Indecision” broke on August 4, the seas have picked up dramatically and have begun swallowing ships. The markets have never seen this type of monthly volume sell-off – 47% above average (unprecedented), as seen in the monthly chart above. As Kenny Rogers put it so eloquently… “Know when to hold em’ and know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run!”

Do leveraged ETFs move the market? SEC investigating..

SmartStops comment:    Interesting to see that the SEC is now investigating whether leveraged ETFs are a cause of increased market volatility.    When will the public realize that the basic underlying structures fueling our stock markets around the world have changed in our 21st century.   There are so many more instruments and derivatives that create the need for a more dynamic intelligent risk management approach.    Asset allocation and diversification, the tenets of modern portfolio theory are not enough in this day and age.  This is exactly why the SmartStops service was created.

originally published at ETF  Trends.

Leveraged exchange traded funds are being blamed for the wild volatility in stocks last month, but data and empirical evidence show the concerns are way overblown.

“With equity volatility doubling recently, some of the same topics that came up two years ago during the credit crisis have resurfaced as people look for possible culprits,” Credit Suisse said in a recent report. “ETFs have received some blame for the increasing volatility, although we believe it’s a case of confusing correlation with causation.”

The Wall Street Journal reports the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into whether leveraged ETFs magnified the market’s wide swings in August. [SEC Reportedly Probing Whether ETFs Added to Market Volatility]

Many leveraged ETFs are geared to provide 200% or 300% of the daily moves in stocks. “Inverse” leveraged ETFs rise when stocks fall. These high-octane funds need to rebalance every day to provide the desired performance.

“Our findings show that the leveraged ETF rebalancing trades are unlikely to be the most influential factor in driving intraday swings into the close,” Credit Suisse said in its report. “Less liquid spaces like small caps and specific sectors may be more likely to be affected on rare days with extreme moves, but liquidity needs are often quickly met in the same way as for typical index rebalances that occur throughout the year.”

Read More…

Bill Gross: Prepare for ‘disharmony’

By Bill Gross – Originally published at Investment News:  The following is the commentary of Bill Gross, managing director and co-CIO at Pimco, for the month of September. For a complete archive of his commentaries, click here.

“Just an old-fashioned love song, comin’ down in three-part harmony.” –Three Dog Night

In many ways the global economic crisis is like a marriage gone bad. As the Three Dog Night sang years ago, global economies have functioned harmoniously for many years, but suddenly the love songs have become strident and cacophonous, the policy coordination morphing into a war of the roses as opposed to a giving of them. Instead of three-part harmony we are now experiencing, at a minimum, tri-party disharmony, teetering on the brink of “divorce,” which in economic parlance means a possible “developed economy” recession – a downturn from which reconciliation may be difficult due to a lack of policy options and cooperation. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s first ring the wedding bells, then take you through an explanation of three separate global marriages and how each of the partners have grown apart.

Europe Unites!

Oh those feisty Europeans! Always fighting like a dating couple and then finally resolving their differences by saying “I do” sometime in the 1950s with the creation of the Common Market and the European Economic Community (EEC). In doing so, France and Germany said “never again,” and even though they didn’t like each other (read “hate”) they decided to make economic lurv in the hopes that they wouldn’t destroy the continent again. It later turned into a formal union, a European Community (EC), where they invited lots of witnesses to the ceremony and created instant family members, if that’s metaphorically possible. Twenty-seven of them, including Italy, Spain and the U.K. were now relatives despite some liking pasta and others preferring horrid cuisines featuring Shepherd’s Pie or fish and chips. The marriage progressed to the point of a smaller monetary union sometime in 1999, but critically, without a common budget. Husband and Wife – Germany and Greece – decided to have a joint bank account, but with separate allowances and no oversight. Greece could issue bonds at nearly the same yield as could its Northern hard-working neighbors, but were free to spend it any way they chose. This was an economic version of an open marriage where one party gets to have all the fun and the other worked nine-to-five and came home too exhausted for whoopee. Well sometime last year, global lenders said enough is enough and soon the whole cheating European Union (EU) was at each other’s throats, hiring lawyers and threatening to break up. Calmer heads prevailed when the ECB decided to make nice and use its checkbook. Last week Angela Merkel and France’s Sarkozy sort of got engaged for at least the second time, nixing expanded funding for their Southern neighbors and placing the burden even more on the ECB. Who knows where it goes now, but let’s put it this way – Germany and France are sleeping in a king-size bed while the rest of its EU family are sleeping in separate bedrooms. As a result Euroland faces economic contraction.

California Dreamin’

This impending divorce in America is not about sex or sleeping around, but more about romancing the now stone-cold notion that anyone could be a millionaire in the good old U.S. of A. if only they worked hard enough. Our Statue of Liberty proclaimed “give us your tired, your poor…” and sent many of them West to build a little house on the prairie or strike it rich in the goldfields of Sacramento, California or Skagway, Alaska. Many of them did and a century later, the option-laden fields of Silicon Valley provided modern-day examples of rags to riches fairytales come true. But this odd couple marriage of rich (and poor hoping to be rich), now seems on rather shaky ground. Instead of boundless opportunity, the nursery rhyme describing Jack Sprat – who could eat no fat – and his wife – who could eat no lean – appears to be the starker of the two realities. There are the poor and there are the very rich, with the shrinking middle class resembling Mr. Sprat rather than his wife.

During this country’s recent economic “recovery,” real corporate profits increased by four times the amount of working wages in dollar terms, and, as the chart below shows, are 50% higher than at the turn of the century while wages remain relatively unchanged, something that has not occurred since this country’s nuptials were concluded over three centuries ago. Is it any wonder that preliminary battlefield skirmishes in Wisconsin and Ohio between labor and capital promise to spread across every state of this land? (Not Texas!) Is it any wonder that Republican orthodoxies favoring tax cuts for the rich and Democratic orthodoxies promoting entitlements for the poor threaten to hamstring any constructive efforts to reduce unemployment over the foreseeable future? We are witnessing romantic love turning into a spiteful, bitter clash between partners in name only.

Alimony Anyone?

The Asian Miracle

Confucius say, “Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?” While not a marriage, there has definitely been a love affair between Western consumers and their Chinese producer “objects” for several decades now. Read More…

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