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The State Of Play - March / April

Those who were at the talk would have been aware that I still see imminent dangers of downside for all markets, in particular 2Q 2010. I do think that the second half of the year would be a lot better. Hence even though the S&P 500 and local bourse have been trending up, I would still recommend 50% in cash. We should still be quick to reduce if things start looking shaky again. Watch the VIX indicator - if it starts climbing above 20, be careful.

The other thing is the usual "sell in May" adage, which I must say do rings true in most cases. If you remember I stated that that would not be the case in 2009 and was largely proven correct. 2009 was unusual because I thought that the recovery was underway and that too much funds was still sidelined. This year, I think we would do well to stick to the rule of thumb: Sell In May & Go Away.

Why the negativity - I don't like the uptrend, its a bit hollow in terms of volume and pervading theme. Macro wise there are a lot more black swans and the sovereign debt issue is not over by a mile.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Sell In May & Go Away

History repeats itself for a reason, because they do, people never learn and they keep repeating their actions and decisions time in time out. This is the same posting I did 4 years back in May 2006, and repeated this in May 2008, so for all intents and purposes, I should also repost this for May 2009. Personally, I don't think this May-August will be a down period.

There is a familiar saying in capital markets "Sell in May and go away", made popular by author Jeffrey Hirsch who publishes the Stock Trader's Almanac. As I have argued before, in an average 12 months, you'd be lucky to have two periods of bullish phases, each lasting 3-6 weeks. The rest of the time will be punctuated by false rallies and bear traps, or just plain inactivity.

This is closer to the truth than most would want to admit. A broker would never say that to their clients, and most financial markets' employees would not voice that to their bosses. It doesn't help that most of the major corrections have taken place between May and October.

A factor which has not been cited for the May-October effect is bonuses/holidays. In order to put in the good figures for year end purposes, there has always been a convergence of interests for players involved to have a solid last quarter so that bonuses in the new year will be good. Plus, you have extended holidays with the last 2 weeks of December and the first week of January - hence you need the cash and peace of mind to have some fun. Generally nothing untoward will happen during end-December / early-January because of that.... a kind of financial detente. The festivity effect cannot and should not be under-rated. While it sounds naive but it happens. More good things happen when people are happy. Not just holidays, it could include important sporting achievements as well. May-October is also marked by a lack of holidays for all to look forward to - maybe we need to schedule more holidays into this period to effect a change in trend?!!

To sell in May and return after October is a good rule of the thumb, especially for "long only" players. In a revealing study: an investor who placed US$10,000 in the Dow average at the end of April each year since 1950 and sold at the end of October would have a net loss of US$272, while someone doing the opposite would have gained an astounding US$534,323. So, taking May-October off may not be just a good for your health but also saves you a lot of stress, plus improves your job performance smartly. This seasonal effect has more things going for it in developed markets such as the US, but not for the developing markets. Those who are more hard working would seek out gains in alternative markets during the lean May-October period. The May-October effect is there because it is a reflection of the nature of an equity market. You just do not have sufficient liquidity and market velocity to keep going the whole year round, or even 6-8 months.

p/s photos: Tiffany Lee Lung Yee


無尾熊可愛 said…
TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................
emacro said…
Historically 4 times out of the last 4, as the US emerge out of recession, we see a bull market for stocks that typically lasts 3 to 4 years, so another 2 to 3 left??
emacro said…
Wonder if Najib will announce something refreshing:

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