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PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:29 pm
by Kbg
This thread is a continuation of the past couple of year's posts on the 20% Returns Thread found below as the topic matter has evolved.


Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:33 pm
by ILoveMoney
Good luck to you with your new strategy. I'll be following along.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:50 am
by dragoncar
Will rising rates affect the expenses on the 3x funds or your other strategy?

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:30 am
by Kbg
Hard to say...but most likely yes. Derivatives have interest rates baked into their pricing. But so do earnings, and bonds and CDs etc. Hence the reason for distinguishing between real and nominal returns/rates. Nominal is everywhere so it kinda doesn’t really matter at some level. In other words, inflation is ultimately the driver of higher interest rates which gets baked into pretty much everything. So costs will go up, but in a general way so will associated returns.

Finally, interest rates really don’t matter all that much vis a vis financial instruments unless they start going north of 5 or 6% ish.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:58 pm
by Kbg
There’s a good article on simulating UGLD since the 70s on SeekingAlpha today. I wish he would have segregated the data into decades. It would have more useful. Piard’s monthly decay post was posted today as well. Both are in the ETF section.

One of the main reasons I post is to educate. Tomorrow I will try to post on gold futures. Hopefully by the time I finish folks will have an idea if they may or may not be useful for their personal situation and preferences. Futures can seem very complex but one can boil down the topic to some key items.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 pm
by Kbg
Futures 101: ... utures.pdf

I'm going to skip the basics; read the above if this whole topic is new/foreign to you. The title of this thread begins with PP inspired so let's make the discussion relevant.

The main things we need to consider when deciding whether or not to use futures are as follows: Costs, trading convenience, portfolio suitability, taxes. (I may think of more as I write, but I'll start here...additionally this may be a multi-poster. I'll write as much as I have time/desire to take on, make a logical break and pick it up where I leave off.)

When looking at costs I specifically mean trading costs. Tax affects will be covered later. Generally a thorough review of costs include spreads, commissions/trading fees and depth of book. When we discuss futures we also need to add the impact of futures contract contango/backwardization.

Using gold as an example to explore costs. (Note: Costs can and do evolve over time...the best we can do is see what our cost options are today)

If we go by the Gold FAQ it looks like the commission for physical gold is 5% plus a continuous cost of storage protection which if Google is correct and you don't have a lot of physical gold is going to be around $25 a year (safe deposit box). The details on the costs of protecting gold are beyond the scope of this post...but we do care about commissions and unless I misread the FAQ it would be a 10% haircut for buying and then selling.

ETFs: UGLD's spread according to .09%, DGP's is .6% GLD's is .01% and IAU's .08%

Futures: GC (x100) .01%, OC (x50) .04%, MGC (x10) .02%

So let's do the spread math on our largest increment position size which is the GC futures contract with a value (tonight) of $132700 and make it a round trip.

Physical - $13,270 (ouch)

ETFs - $26.54 to $1592

Futures - $26.54 to $106.16

The math speaks for itself: GLD and the GC futures contract are the least cost winners when it comes to a single buy and sell.

Let's take a look at commissions now.

Physical - Covered in the spread calcs, so we will call this a "zero commission" trade

ETFs: Let's call it $10 round trip...could be a little more or a little less.

Futures: Let's call it $5 round trip...your mileage may vary

Management fees are the gift that keeps on giving annually

UGLD 1.35%, DGP .75%, GLD .40%, IAU .25%...for a three year hold $132700 turns into 127,392 (-4%/-$5308) for UGLD and 131,704 (-.75%/-$995) for IAU.

Note: A bit of rounding in the above figures and the assumption is zero change in underlying price.

An interesting point to note here...for a long term hold maybe that physical stuff isn't so bad at least as compared to say UGLD. I did this analysis in hard $$$ because I think it makes it more tangible than %%% reporting. Hopefully the fair reader has also noticed that based on your hold period (and frankly a bunch of other stuff we will eventually get to) what may be "best" ends up being a big "it depends." Yup, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

I think I'm good for tonight and feel free to double check my calcs and assumptions. In fact, feel free to shred it if I missed something you think relevant...the point is to learn/bring all the useful info to bare on the subject. Tomorrow I'll hit the final cost component unique to futures...contango/backwardization and how the "spot" price for physical differs from the price of the future...this aspect can make a Trumpian YYYUUUGGEE difference on the returns we get. In fact, part of my real money port this year is an experiment in action so I get a better internal feel for the relevant dynamics and actual costs. I may get several months into what I am currently invested in and toss it overboard because of something learned along the way. Nothing like reality to help one learn.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:01 pm
by Kbg
Fun and useless factoid...that XIV I mentioned in the last thread is now at +812% since Feb 16. I really want to see it become a 10 bagger even if only for a day. The odds are pretty good as the denominator is getting pretty small compared to the numerator so it wouldn't take a 8.9% change which is very doable in a short time for XIV. If it does I will sell it and buy it again in my IRA for pure psychological satisfaction (and to restart the mental clock)

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:05 pm
by clacy
Thanks kbg. I’ll be interested to read your post re backwardization/contango. Those topics are still a little fuzzy to me.

Although I do wonder if the leveraged ETF’s have backwardization and contango baked into their price as well. Do the the 2/3x ETF’s use futures as a way levering?

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:47 pm
by Kbg
If you look at UGLD's prospectus there is a section about the index used for the ETN.
The return on the ETNs of any series will be based on the performance of the applicable Index during the term of such ETNs. Each
series of ETNs tracks the daily performance of the S&P GSCI® Gold Index ER or the S&P GSCI® Silver Index ER (each such index, an
“Index” and collectively the “Indices”). Each Index comprises futures contracts on a single commodity and is calculated according to
the methodology of the S&P GSCI® Index (the “S&P GSCI”). The fluctuations in the values of the Indices are intended generally to
correlate with changes in the prices of such physical commodities in global markets. The S&P GSCI® Gold Index ER and the S&P
GSCI® Silver Index ER are composed entirely of gold or silver futures contracts, respectively.
Short version; it is an index based on gold futures less what you would get from cash if you bought the futures outright and invested the difference in T-Bills. ER is an abbreviation for Excess Return which really means without T-bill interest. So yes I would expect to see the same impact. The reality of UGLD is you are buying an unsecured debt note from Credit Suisse. They agree to give you the return of this index and you agree to give them 1.35% per year and the interest from T-bills in exchange. It doesn't really work that way for us little guys, but it does for the big guys who can exchange the notes directly with Credit Suisse. Not too worry...minus some tracking error we basically get the same benefit/costs. CS in turn hedges their risk however they deem best.

The reason I went to gold futures was I figured I could save some of the 1.35% and get a bit better than the T-Bill interest. Also, with futures you can gear up but also mitigate some volatility drag as compared to the daily reset.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:55 am
by Kbg ... -guide.pdf

No bias in this source. ;) However, I thought the examples used and specifics of gold futures was useful for building the knowledge base. I’m trying to find something comprehensive that provides good info on gold spot vs. futures returns. luck on finding anything comprehensive. I’m quite confident that the vast majority of time gold is in contango which means if we are long, then we lose some money vs. spot. Currently spot vs. the Dec GC contract shows that with no price change holding the Dec future would result in a ~2% loss at expiry. Theoretically if you buy the future you should be investing the difference between the margin requirement and spot in ST treasuries to be efficient with your excess cash. And this spread is definitely baked into the price of the future. If you invested the excess cash then the delta would be around -.55% as IIRC 4 week Tbills were around 1.45% last week.

I will say one thing that is very good about futures vs. other financial instruments...the real costs of being invested are normally captured and transmitted to the appropriate bearer of said costs very efficiently. In other instruments they tend to be buried deep in the fine print (ala the UGLD prospectus) or a bit more nebulous to define (like how much is a safe deposit box going to cost).

Of interest (to me) I just discovered I can buy gold spot as a currency cross to the US dollar at my brokerage. I need to dive into this. If I can do so on margin similar or better than the future this will be a very good development. I also need to check out minimum size allowed. The nice thing about this is that the difference is likely to be LIBOR or something close to it...and really there is no escaping the cost of cash pretty much anywhere in the financial world. No free lunches and all that.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:29 pm
by Kbg
Or not...not available to US investors.

Re: PP Inspired Leveraged Portfolios

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:34 pm
by ozzy
Here's a good article released today on combining leveraged and non-leveraged PP assets to increase overall performance. I've been implementing my own version of this for years and its been great: ... erage#alt1