Alternative Investments -Measuring Performance

How to measure performance between accounts.



Dealing in Alternative Investments requires a bit of statistical knowledge (the more the better).  So I picked out one component that would benefit someone who handles their investments personally and, at the same time, benefit someone who pays an advisor because it never hurts to ask the right questions.

The following is not investment advice, but one way to assess the advice you were given…

High Frequency Trading or Unconventional Return Periods

When returns are realized at higher frequencies (many times per year), Sharpe Ratios and the corresponding t-statistics can be calculated in a straightforward way.

Assuming there are N return occurrences per year, and the mean (μ) and standard deviation (σ) of the returns are μ and σ, the annualized Sharpe Ratio can be calculated as (μ×N)/(σ×√N) …or (μ/σ)×√N.

The corresponding t-statistic is (μ/σ)×√(N × number of years).

For monthly returns, the annualized Sharpe Ratio and the corresponding t-statistic are (μ/σ)×√12 and (μ/σ)×√(12 × number of years), respectively.  Here, μ and σ are the monthly mean and standard deviation of returns.

Similarly, assuming μ and σ are the daily mean and standard deviation for returns (you traded every day the market was open…please don’t do that:) and there are 252 trading days in a year, the annualized Sharpe Ratio is (μ/σ)×√252 …the corresponding t-stat is (μ/σ)×√(252 × number of years).

The calculators I use to find these metrics are listed in the right-hand column on “my trading desk.” They both have statistical functions.

The Test Statistic

Test Statistics (t-stat,t-statistic) are tricky creatures.  Essentially when evaluating performance, I require a t-stat of 4 or more (the higher the better) before considering a stake.  In the future, I will explain a simple model I use to allocate cash among accounts and strategies according to their t-stat.

Now, here is a simple formula to estimate a t-statistic for unusual return periods:

Test statistic= (μ/σ)×√(N return occurrences × number of years).

Note that “N return occurrences×Number of years” is just the total number of return occurrences resulting from the investment or strategy (either positive or negative).  So, if you closed out 3 trades (at 1%, -2.3% and 3%), that counts as N=3.

Or, if your investment reconciles every 6 weeks, for the past 1.5 years then N=13, (78 weeks / 6).

Remember, it is important to convert your daily/weekly/monthly returns to an annual (yearly) number.  This makes it very easy to compare performance against conventional, low-return investments pushed by financial salesmen.

And since the volatility adjustment is built-in, it is an apples-to-apples comparison.


British Retail Sales

How important are British retail sales?

Always check the economic calendar

The British Retail Sales Survey

Retail sales are the total revenue from stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. British retail survey data include all online businesses whose primary function is online retail.  The data also cover internet sales by other British firms, such as supermarkets, department stores and catalog companies.

Headline British retail sales are reported in volume terms but are available in both forms. The data are derived from a monthly survey of 5,000 businesses in Great Britain. The sample represents the whole retail sector and includes the 900 largest retailers and a representative panel of smaller businesses, including internet sales.

Collectively, all of these businesses cover approximately 90 percent of the retail industry –in terms of turnover.

Old Map (35)
The survey data covers 90% of Brit retail

Why are British Retail Sales important?

Consumer spending is a major component of the economy and market players continually monitor spending patterns. The monthly retail sales report contains sales data in both pounds sterling (£) and volume. British retail sales data exclude automobile sales.

The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets.

  • For equity, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices.
  • For fixed income (bonds), the focus is whether economic growth is stretched overboard and leading to inflation –building a case for interest rate hikes and decreasing the expected value of existing bonds.

The ideal economy walks a fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.

The British Retail Sales survey not only gives you a sense of the big picture on the big island, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Perhaps ground tackle sales are showing exceptional weakness but navigation electronics sales are soaring (have you seen those prices lately?!). Trends derived from retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities and preempt expectations.

British Office of National Statistics


Have A Calculated Edge

Do you have a calculated edge?

It is important to have an edge as a trader.  But, what is an edge?  And how do I act on it to minimize risk and profit consistently.

The generic definition of an edge is this: an edge is a higher likelihood of one outcome happening over a second outcome.

With this definition in mind, let’s take a look at a simple scenario that illustrates an edge.

If you play heads or tails, with a friend, with a coin that you know is weighted more on one side (heads by 70%) than the other (tails), does it make sense to try and predict whether the number of heads will exceed the number of tails by the end of the day?

No, because each outcome is not random, you know that over time if you keep calling heads you will be wrong more often than you are correct.

The exact same can be said about trading. Simply put, once you have found an edge, all you have to do is keep applying that edge to the market whenever it presents itself.  Different traders hold different kinds of edges.  The type of edge you hold matters little.  What matters is that your edge is profitable and can be applied consistently.  And, if you have multiple edges, that definitely matters!

There is no point in guessing whether the next trade is going to be a winner or a loser. Guessing is futile.  Don’t guess your way into a soupline. When your edge is present, you don’t need to guess what the ruling market will do next.

Do you have a clearly defined edge?

So what is my edge?  I have multiple edges since I prefer a good nights rest …and need my beauty sleep.

My #1 edge is Mindset –I know that money is a means and not an end.  I know that markets rule 24 hours a day, non-stop.  Missing a trade means nothing, losing a trade means little.  I know there are many more trades that are correlated  and time-lagged to any that I miss or lose.

My #2 edge is Money Management  —the money management model I developed over the years minimizes risk and adapts to trader performance.  When I take a loss, it is minor …gains always exceed losses.  My model is based on the work of great minds like:

  • Ed Thorpe
  • Claude Shannon
  • John Kelly, Jr.

At least one of those names should ring a bell.  Afterall, Claude Shannon (M.I.T.) is the father of modern Information Theory!

My final edge is market analysis which I learned from taking the first two CFA exams; as well as learning entry & exit points according to price charts (technical analysis).

If you want learn how to gain an edge in the market, go visit the fine folks who taught me:  Infinite Prosperity, a Corp. Authorised Representative of Alpha Equities & Futures Ltd ABN 76131376415

What is your edge?

When thou sittest to eate with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee…              –prov XXIII



Thank you for visiting my web log.  Although this blog is centered around alternative investments, foreign currency exchange & risk managment,  you will not see graphs nor price charts scattered about.  You will not see any news summaries, news articles or other such rehashed fear & confusion.  I have spent an immense amount of time, energy and sleepless nights (i.e. life) studying charts, analyzing price movement, spotting trends, memorizing formulas, determining correlations and pouring over grueling finance books.  What for? For why? Well, to decipher the code, navigate the matrix and predict the future, of course.

That is the past.

This blog reflects process.  And right now, the process is refined, the models are in place and the Mind is set.  God is in the Winds.  And when the Winds gust, the simple truth is that either your sails are up or your sails are down.  Make preparations before the storm.  Here, I will tell you when I hoist the Mainsail, why I lower it, or if I’m just reducing sail to prevent taking on too much risk.

In the sidebar, you will only find links to those resources that I personally use or have personally contributed to.  If the quality or status of the resource has diminished, the link will be promptly removed.

Good sailors know the ocean is unforgiving, relentless and beautiful; they always signal other ships when a storm is coming and when the coast is clear, so that is what I will do for you  …there is enough of God’s blue ocean for everyone to enjoy.