Preface: Explaining our market timing models We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"
My inner trader uses the trading component of the Trend Model to look for changes in the direction of the main Trend Model signal. A bullish Trend Model signal that gets less bullish is a trading "sell" signal. Conversely, a bearish Trend Model signal that gets less bearish is a trading "buy" signal. The history of actual out-of-sample (not backtested) signals of the trading model are shown by the arrows in the chart below. Past trading of the trading model has shown turnover rates of about 200% per month.
The latest signals of each model are as follows:
Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
Trend Model signal: Risk-on*
Trading model: Bullish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.
Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers will also receive email notices of any changes in my trading portfolio.
Measuring the Trump effect Stock prices have been on a tear since the US election last November. While analysts have attributed the rally to a Trump effect, the chart below shows the SPX and international stocks, as measured by MSCI EAFE, during that period. Both asset classes have performed roughly in line with each other. This indicates the lack of a pronounced Trump effect as the outlook for non-US stocks should not be affected by the prospect of Trump tax cuts and deregulation. The main reason for equity strength was a broad based global growth recovery.
Since taking office, the Trump White House has been seized by legislative paralysis. Consider Exhibit A, the repeal failure of ACA, which was a major goal of candidate Trump. The new administration has struggled to find its footing in the business of governing. The Washington Post reported that, of the 553 positions requiring Senate confirmation, 478 have not even been chosen, such as the three vacant board seats at the Federal Reserve. CNN reported that Trump still has about 2000 vacancies to fill - and that includes the ones that do not require Senate confirmation.
To be sure, Trump stated in a recent interview with Fox News that he does not intend to fill "unnecessary" posts in an effort to cut down on government. For now, many parts of the US federal government is running on autopilot. However, with no ambassadors in place in South Korea, China, or Japan, and an unfilled post of the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, the recent crisis, or near-crisis, over North Korea highlights the vulnerabilities of a slimmed down government.
Still, a government on autopilot makes market analysis an easier task. You just have to focus on the fundamentals. For now, the fundamentals remain positive.