Introduction  and Disclaimer

An earlier version of this article was submitted to Seeking Alpha but was rejected because it contained no "in-depth, fundamental analysis". A brief search of the SA website disclosed references to fundamentally based articles on the Acting Man website. So I sent Pater a note claiming knowledge of a fairly accurate, purely mechanical method to identify significant long-term turning points in the market. I offered to tell him a few days in advance the target point of the next signal. He graciously offered to publish my article here. If it can be arranged, I will post its buy and sell signals as they occur in the future. This information is for educational and entertainment purposes only, it will never be a recommendation to buy or sell anything. But I believe that it will prove interesting to consider and watch over time.

 

Method  Description

My method is similar to the so-called 4 percent method on the Value Line Geometric index, as first published by Ned Davis in the early 1980s. For those unfamiliar with this index, it is described here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_Line_Composite_Index

Davis’s algorithm simply bought long any 4% or greater move up in the weekly closes of this index, and sold and went short on any 4% or greater move down in the weekly closes. His algorithm captured a good portion of every major move up or down, but, as is typical of a trend following method, suffered a number of whipsaw losses, primarily due to false sell signals.  I tried a number of ways to reduce these and found two that worked well.

The first added feature uses a trend line. By dynamically constructing this line and deferring action until the market penetrated it, the method reduced whipsaw losses significantly, with little effect on total returns. I thus added this feature to the method.

The second improvement concerns short sales. Davis shorted on all sell signals. Unfortunately, most of these short sales did not end profitably. Using market breadth (advancing and declining issues on the NYSE) was found to better identify conditions for a short sale. My first pass modification identified every major downturn since 1961, except the plunge on 9/11/2001 on occasion of the WTC attack (which was hardly an economically based event), and prevented shorting of many of the smaller corrections. I added this feature to the method, unchanged from my first attempt.

 

Data Series

The farther an index moves (in percentage terms), the better it is suited for trend following. Davis probably was aware of this, and chose the Value Line Geometric index because it did move farther than other indexes available at the time, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. Many small-cap indexes exhibit this tendency to make greater moves than their larger cap cousins, and are the basis for ETFs and futures contracts. Currently there are no ETFs or futures contracts based on the Value Line index, so an alternative had to be chosen.

The data series used by the method begins with the Value Line Geometric index, because there exist no readily available small-cap indexes prior to its introduction. But conversion to another index was required before the Value Line index fell out of favor. The Russell 2000 index is currently quite popular, so a continuous index was created by using the Value Line index until the Russell index was introduced in 1979, and then splicing the Russell index onto the Value Line index.

 

Testing

The algorithm is controlled by three parameters. Two of these are buy/sell thresholds, and the third is the slope of the trend line.  The algorithm could be optimized via backtesting, but a 'forward test' is actually far better. The typical automated trading method uses (or at least they did, for a very long time) a large number of parameters and the method is then optimized by backtesting on a great deal of historical data to determine the best set of parameter values to use. These methods work fabulously on past data when thus optimized, but often they soon begin to fail on future (out of sample) data. A forward test, where results are recorded entirely on data that the method has not used for optimization, provides a far better indication of how a method will perform in the future.

The forward test began by “training” the algorithm on the S&P 500 data from 1942 through 1960: all possible combinations of the three parameters were applied by the algorithm to the S&P 500 data, and the values that produced the best results were chosen. These parameter values then were used for the first trade on the Value Line/Russell 2000 data series, and the result of that trade was recorded as the first result of the forward test.

For the next trade, the algorithm was trained by running the Value Line/Russell 2000 data series from its beginning to the end of the first trade, with all possible combinations of the three parameters, and choosing the values that produced the best results. These parameter values then were used for the next trade on the data series, and that result was recorded as well. This process was continued for all of the data in the series, beginning each training session with the start of the data series and ending at the end of the last trade.

 

Results

The results are quite impressive: close to a 14% average gain per year since 1960 was achieved, with a maximum drawdown on closed trades of about 26%. Dividends and money market interest would boost this annual gain to over 15%. For comparison, a buy and hold strategy using the S&P 500 (excluding dividends) averaged only 6.5% per year over the same period with a maximum drawdown greater than 40%.

The accompanying chart shows the results. The upper (white) line is the method; the lower (yellow) line is the Value Line/Russell 2000 index. For comparison, the S&P 500 is shown as the green line. These are results through 11/15/2013. In this forward test the method traded about 3-4 times per year, winning on 54% of all trades. Its win/loss or payoff ratio is 3.98.

 


 

MDM ChartThe return produced by the Modified Davis Method compared to the S&P 500 index and the combined Value Line/Russell 2000 Index (Value Line before 1979, Russell thereafter) – click to enlarge.

 


 

Risk of Ruin

The risk of ruin for this method, as defined in this article:

The Risk of Ruin Tables You Should Know

is quite low. To compute the risk of ruin value we need this information:

 

 Risk per Trade

 Payoff Ratio

 Win Ratio

 

The method’s Risk per Trade is difficult to estimate. Its average loss is about 2.8%, but its maximum loss has been 7.25%. In 190 trades it had only 3 losses greater than 6%.  We must interpolate between the 10% and 5% Risk per Trade tables.

Rounding the Payoff Ratio to 4:1 and the Win Ratio to 55%, the 10% table (10% of capital at risk per trade) gives a Risk of Ruin of .0438 and using the  5% table, the Risk of Ruin amounts to zero. So the method’s 'actuarial' Risk of Ruin is greater than zero, but it is obviously quite low.

 

Current Status, Future Results

The method last went to 100% long on 11/30/2012 with the Russell 2000 index at 821.92 (the Russell closed at 1116.20 on 11/15/2013). If it can be arranged, I will be posting future trades here as soon as possible after the close on the day they occur, and  usually hopefully before the market open of the next trading day. Stay tuned if you’re interested.

 

Positions Held

Disclosure: I and members of my family at present  own shares of the IWM ETF and are long Russell 2000 mini futures contracts. We will continue to buy and sell these positions as the method dictates.

 


 

Frank Roellinger is a retired software engineer who worked for a major computer manufacturer for nearly 34 years.  He has been an avid follower of markets for more than 30 years, with a strong preference for technical over fundamental analysis.  After observing the results of many different ways to approach markets, he settled upon long-term trend following.  He once hoped to develop a mathematically-based model of the stock market, but now sees little point in doing that, as his Modified Davis Method works as well as any other purely mechanical method that he thought he might ever find.

 


 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

4 Responses to “The Modified Davis Method”

  • rodney:

    Continuous walk-forward optimization?

  • Frank Roellinger:

    Intriguing thought. It probably would work on commodities, but they present special problems for testing, e.g. discontinuities at contract expiration times, and locking limits. I’ve dabbled a bit in commodities, once tracking several over about 6 months using Russell Sands’ version of the Turtles method, and found it to be profitable. But it’s a whole different world in commodities and I’ve never taken the time to investigate it fully. Historically, profitable trends have come often enough in the small-cap indexes for my tastes, and the breadth phenomenon does give them an edge. There are other measures unique to stocks (not mentioned in the article) that I have found do give some useful clues about what is going on and what is likely to happen next.

  • SavvyGuy:

    It might be interesting to see how this algorithm works on different markets e.g. soybeans, bonds, metals, crude oil, etc. Even though the market breadth parameter would not be applicable to these markets, such additional testing could help improve the trend-following behavior of the algorithm.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • TMS-2 fast versionA Date Which Will Live in Infamy
      President Nixon’s Decision to Abandon the Gold Standard Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Japanese “surprise” attack on the U.S. occupied territory of Hawaii and its naval base Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.”  Similar words should be used for President Nixon’s draconian decision 45 years ago this month that removed America from the last vestiges of the gold standard.   Nixon points out where numerous evil speculators were suspected to be...
  • Perfect-InvestmentInsanity, Oddities and Dark Clouds in Credit-Land
      Insanity Rules Bond markets are certainly displaying a lot of enthusiasm at the moment – and it doesn't matter which bonds one looks at, as the famous “hunt for yield” continues to obliterate interest returns across the board like a steamroller. Corporate and government debt have been soaring for years, but investor appetite for such debt has evidently grown even more.   The perfect investment for modern times: interest-free risk! Illuustration by Howard...
  • web-puzzled-man-scratching-head-retro-everett-collection-shutterstock_91956314News from TINA Land
      Distortions and Crazy Ideas We have come across a few articles recently that discuss some of the strategies investors are using or contemplating to use as a result of the market distortions caused by current central bank policies. Readers have no doubt noticed that numerous inter-market correlations seem to have been suspended lately, and that many things are happening that superficially seem to make little sense (e.g. falling junk bond yields while defaults are surging; the yen rising...
  • CorporateMediacontrolTrump's Tax Plan, Clinton Corruption and Mainstream Media Propaganda
      Fake Money, Fake Capital OUZILLY, France – Little change in the markets on Monday. We are in the middle of vacation season. Who wants to think too much about the stock market? Not us! Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to reform the U.S. tax system.   This should actually even appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders: the lowest income groups will be completely exempt from income and capital gains taxes under Trump's plan. We expect to hear...
  • mania1The Great Stock Market Swindle
      Short Circuited Feedback Loops Finding and filling gaps in the market is one avenue for entrepreneurial success.  Obviously, the first to tap into an unmet consumer demand can unlock massive profits.  But unless there’s some comparative advantage, competition will quickly commoditize the market and profit margins will decline to just above breakeven.   Example of a “commoditized” market – hard-drive storage costs per GB. This is actually the essence of economic...
  • old friendsAn Old Friend Returns
      A Rare Apparition An old friend suddenly showed up out of the blue yesterday and I’m not talking about a contributor who had washed out and, after years of ‘working for the man’, decided to return for another whack at beating the market. Instead I am delighted to report that I am looking at a bona fide confirmed VIX sell signal which we haven’t seen for ages here.   Hello, old friend. Professor X and Magneto staring each other down in the plastic...
  • Lighthouse in Storm --- Image by © John Lund/CorbisSilver is in a Different World
      The Lighthouse Problem Measured in gold, the price of the dollar hardly budged this week. It fell less than one tenth of a milligram, from 23.29 to 23.20mg. However, in silver terms, it’s a different story. The dollar became more valuable, rising from 1.58 to 1.61 grams.   Who put that bobbing lighthouse there? Image credit: John Lund / Corbis   Most people would say that gold went up $6 and silver went down 43 cents. We wonder, if they were on a sinking boat,...
  • storming the storeRetail Snails
      Second Half Recovery Dented by “Resurgent Consumer” We normally don't comment in real time on individual economic data releases. Generally we believe it makes more sense to occasionally look at a bigger picture overview, once at least some of the inevitable revisions have been made. The update we posted last week (“US Economy, Something is Not Right”) is an example.   Eager consumers storming a store Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg   We'll make an...
  • The CongressThe Fed’s “Waterloo” Moment
      Corrupt and Unsustainable James has been a big help. Trying to get him to sleep at night, we have been telling him fantastic and unbelievable bedtime stories – full of grotesque monsters... evil maniacs... and events that couldn’t possibly be true (catch up here and here).   He turned his head until his gaze came to rest on the barred windows of the main building. Finally, he spoke; as far as I was aware these were the first words he had uttered in more than five years....
  • BuffettGold and Silver Supply and Demand Report
      The Famous Buffett Quote The prices of the metals didn’t change much this week. We thought we would take this opportunity to quote Warren Buffet. A comment he made at Harvard in 1998 earned him the scorn of the gold community.   Warren Buffett no doubt is a good investor; but he is also one of the biggest beneficiaries of the vast monetary inflation since the 1970s, a wind that has been at his back ever since. He also doesn't seem to understand gold. We don't say this...
  • SheltonThe Devil You Know - or the One You Don’t?
      Better the Devil You Know? We are providing around-the-clock nursing care to our invalid wife, who is back at home, with cracked ribs, unable to move. We are upstairs in the bedroom – the shutters closed against the heat (we have no air-conditioning) – taking a few minutes to update our Diary... but with nothing important to say.   Every day, we look at the headlines, think about what is going on in the big wide world and try to connect a dot or two. It is probably the...
  • tapis tilesFarming in France Is No Picnic
      Introductory Remarks by PT: At first we actually didn't want to post this particular Diary entry, because we felt it was too “off topic” (although we do of course occasionally discuss off topic issues), but upon further reflection it struck us that it is actually quite interesting when considered in a broader context.   EU spending: most of the budget is spent on subsidizing agriculture (which represents less than 2% of total economic output). As is the case with all...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com