TuringTrader's Bonds-NOT

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Key Facts

  • Mean-variance optimization strategy
  • invests in
    • U.S. Treasuries
    • U.S. Corporate Bonds
    • U.S. Stocks
    • Gold

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Summary

Bonds-NOT is a proprietary premium strategy by TuringTrader.com, introduced in October 2020.

Bonds-NOT aims to continuously beat the aggregate bond market while maintaining a similarly low risk profile. The strategy invests in U.S. Treasuries of various maturities, U.S. Corporate Bonds of various credit rankings, and boosts these returns with investments in U.S. Stocks and Gold.

Bonds-NOT rebalances monthly, resulting in very low maintenance requirements. These properties make the strategy a great candidate for investing in an uncertain future and having a busy lifestyle.

Performance

The chart above shows the portfolio’s historical performance and drawdowns, compared to their benchmark, throughout the simulation. The chart below shows the portfolio’s annual returns:

This table shows the performance metrics for TuringTrader's Bonds-NOT:

Asset Allocation

The portfolio last required rebalancing after the exchange's close on n/a. Due to fluctuations in asset prices and portfolio values, the exact allocations vary daily. The current asset allocation is as follows:

- Delayed Data -

TuringTrader.com, Bonds-NOT: A bond strategy on steroids

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Review

Strategy Rules

The operation of Bonds-NOT can be summarized as follows:

  • create two independent baskets, each managed by the Universal Investment Strategy
    • basket #1: U.S. Treasuries with shorter maturities and investment-grade corporate bonds
    • basket #2: long-term U.S. Treasuries, U.S. Stocks, Gold, and high-yield bonds
  • allocate capital between the two baskets with the Universal Investment Strategy
  • rebalance monthly

The Universal Investment Strategy performs an iterative mean-variance optimization of the managed assets. While being CPU-intensive, this method does not require an estimation of future returns or covariances, making it remarkably robust. The two independently managed baskets allow Bonds-NOT to take advantage of negative correlations while limiting the tendency to favor low-volatility assets with poor returns over better-performing investments. The managed baskets each have docile characteristics with low volatility, which allows combining them in a tiered approach as a final step. With this 2-tiered approach, Bonds-NOT is technically a meta-strategy, much like our All-Stars Portfolios.

Diversification

Bonds-NOT is primarily a bond strategy. However, unlike investing in the aggregate bond market, the composition of the portfolio is not static. Instead, the strategy continuously selects the best performing bonds of varying maturities and credit ratings. To further boost returns, Bonds-NOT may add exposure to U.S. stocks when conditions to do so are favorable.

Because Bonds-NOT invests in broad indices, it is well diversified for single-company risks. But thanks to its dynamic management, Bonds-NOT is better diversified across asset classes than holding a proxy of the aggregate bond market. Similar to the bond market, the strategy's beta remains close to zero.

Returns & Volatility

In most years, Bonds-NOT beats its benchmark, the aggregate bond market, including those with low bond returns. The portfolio's standard deviation of returns slightly higher than its benchmark, but other risk measures, including maximum drawdown, Ulcer Index, and maximum flat days, are lower. The risk-adjusted returns, notably the Sharpe Ratio and the Ulcer Performance Index, clearly favor Bonds-NOT over the aggregate bond market.

The Monte-Carlo simulation confirms these observations. Bonds-NOT offers a massive upside over the aggregate bond market while at the same time having a significantly lower risk profile.

Account & Tax Considerations

Bonds-NOT trades frequently and regularly triggers taxable events. Investors should not assume that the strategy holds its assets long enough to qualify for long-term treatment of capital gains.

However, it is essential to see this in perspective to holding an ETF representing the aggregate bond market. Over the past three decades, bond yields were declining. This decline resulted in bonds not only paying interest but also accruing capital gains. By holding bonds for sufficiently long periods, investors could defer paying taxes on these capital gains and qualify for long-term treatment of these gains. In 2020 and moving forward, this situation is most likely different. Interest rates have reached historic lows, and with rates staying flat or even increasing, the capital gains of bonds will no longer be a relevant factor. Under these conditions, Bonds-NOT has a very similar tax burden to holding bond ETFs.

Bonds-NOT holds up to six ETFs at a time. To allow for proper position sizing, investors should allocate no less than $10,000 to the strategy.