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Monday, 9 December 2013

Nov update



indexed NAV
adjusted return
100.00
Nov-12 17.8% 117.77
Dec-12 37.4% 161.78
Jan-13 38.1% 223.40
Feb-13 -3.3% 215.92
Mar-13 12.4% 242.62
Apr-13 30.2% 315.81
May-13 68.8% 533.08
Jun-13 36.9% 729.55
Jul-13 -12.6% 637.46
Aug-13 -1.7% 626.31
Sep-13 -9.6% 566.31
Oct-13 -4.9% 538.62
Nov-13 11.5% 600.41

Having drawn down from Jul to Oct (my own fault in Jul and Oct, and also due to the Fed's disgraceful behaviour in Sept) I was uncomfortably close to my stop by the end of Oct. I'm running a 30% drawdown from peak month end NAV, so I was 3.8% away at the end of Oct and running correspondingly smaller positions than in Jun. After Nov I'm back in the clear, so I can trade more freely without being constrained by the proximity of the stop. The easiest market has been fx, as the market looked into Q1 and saw a tighter Fed and a BoJ which is likely to undertake another round of easing :

Equities            2.7%        Nikkei longs (aka USDJPY) worked, offset by a small loss from long VIX
Commodities   0.4%        Short gold again, having been stopped on the same trade in Oct
Fxd income      0.0%        Gains in Aussie bills and short TYZ3 offset by losses from short JGBs
FX                    8.4%        Long USDJPY, GBPCHF and short AUDUSD and AUDNZD all worked

I should have made more in equities really : after payrolls it was clear that the hedge fund community needed to reduce the performance gap with equities to avoid some difficult investor conversations. The problem is that the taper is coming though. Never mind the data - the guard is changing at the Fed and QE is Bernanke's pet, not Yellen's. She's more interested in optimal control and convincing the market that rates will stay low for another 3 or 4 years. Anyway, QE's days seem numbered, and even if you believe that this year's equity rally - powered by  multiple expansion - has nothing to do with QE (I don't) then you don't want to find out the hard way that you might be wrong. After a great year, and with a major change in the monetary landscape coming, common sense suggests reducing equity positions. So being long stocks feels to me like picking up the last few pennies in front of the steamroller : 2% of upside vs 10% of downside. Not very attractive, so I left the equity market in the US alone in Nov.

Current thoughts (in brief):
I'm now short equities, but concerned I'm too early. Vol has picked up, and the 1810 highs should be met with selling from some over-excited longs from a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that will cap the upside now. If not, I'll respect the rally and cut.

FX still seems the easiest market in my opinion. I'm short AUD, JPY and CHF against GBP, USD and NZD (small for the latter). My risk-off hedge is long Aussie Dec14 bill futures, as before. More and more people are starting to suggest a final cut in 2014, but even without this the position still works. What's clear is that the hurdle for  rate hikes is higher than people thought a few months ago. I think rates aren't rising for a couple of years at least and AUDUSD probably heads towards its 0.82 low from 2010.

Fixed income. I like being short JGBs, for the first time in ages : real yields are negative in Japan and positive in the US, and the gap is the widest since 1998. That's triggered the second largest flows into Treasuries from Japan since they started collecting the data in 2000 - in other words, Japanese institutions are voting on JGBs with their feet. Everyone believes Abenomics will stutter in the spring and require more bond buying from the BoJ, so it only takes a few signs of durable success to make them question that assumption. That would push JGB yields a lot higher (ok, 15-20bps higher anyway). The negative carry isn't so bad, and positioning seems quite clean. Everyone's afraid to fight the BoJ, but there's always a level where it's the right idea.
Elsewhere I'm running a medium sized short in TYH4, as yields seem set to drift just north of 3% with a Jan taper. To an extent it's the same as the JGB trade though.

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