Currency (Forex & Cryptocurrencies) Portfolio: Annual Report

In 2017, I focused less on a personal forex portfolio, and more on other portfolios as capital deposits in the latter reached the same amount as the personal FX portfolio. In this post, I will be discussing three currency portfolios; active trading strategies, carry trade strategy, and cryptocurrencies.

Active Trading Forex Portfolio

Since inception (09/29/2015, I actually started trading in 2011), personal forex portfolio is up 33%. For 2017, it returned 8.39%. For 2016 and 2015, the portfolio returned 32.82% and 117.48%, respectively. So why the big differences in percentages since inception and yearly returns? More money was deposited into the account over time. As a result, I have risked much lesser capital per trade. The portfolio size is 10 times bigger than it was in 2015, or 100 times bigger than it was in 2011. Thus, the returns in % terms are much smaller, but in nominal amounts, much bigger.

In 2017, the maximum drawdown was almost 7%. When the drawdown increased 2% in a week in the middle of the year, I knew I had to change certain positions. 2% move in a week was a big deal considering I was focused less on the personal FX portfolio. Once I closed certain positions and opened new positions, the drawdown went back to its average of 3.5% within two weeks and stayed below that level since then. Risk management is very important!

I don’t have other metrics, such as monthly returns, standard deviation, and Sharpe ratio, as I did for 2016 because the ex-broker who provided me with the useful statistics was banned from the U.S., for defrauding customers and engaging in false/misleading solicitations.

Carry Trade Forex Portfolio

During early 2017, I wanted to create another forex account solely focused on one strategy. I didn’t want the carry trade positions mixed with active positions. So I opened an account with a different broker, Oanda. I initially deposited about 4% of my capital, amount I can afford to lose.

I made some mistakes in the beginning. The first trade was shorting EUR/TRY, whose interest differential is the highest, A.K.A higher yield. I started to lose a lot of money as the only carry trade in the account kept going in the opposite direction of my favor (EUR/TRY kept rising), talks of ECB tapering its balance sheet appreciated the euro and the situation in Turkey depreciated the lira.

Within several months, my unrealized losses were about 30% of the portfolio. I couldn’t do anything about it to manage the risk as my hands were tied due to work. I had to set up the carry trade portfolio in a way I barely have to worry about the fluctuations in unrealized P/L. When work ended for the summer, the portfolio drawdown was its highest, almost 50%.

I learned that the key to successful carry trade is to leave plenty of margin in the account for the pairs to fluctuate without wiping out your account. So I deposited 1% more capital into the account to prevent margin call. Immediately afterward, I changed my positions. I shorted some of the highest yielding currency pairs with negative correlation to EUR/TRY. Within a month, the drawdown went from 50% to 30%. Currently, it is just above 20%. Risk management is very important!

For its first year, the portfolio is up 14%. The 14% comes from the interest returns on the positions as it rolled over to the next day. However, when the unrealized losses are taken into account for 2017, the portfolio is down 23%. Carry trade is a long-term trend following strategy that requires patience and risk management.

This is an instance of humans thinking they can do something well, but things go sideways when they put their actual money, relationships, etc. at risk. I initially believed I could make some money easily with the carry trade. When the time came to have a real money at risk, I made mistakes and learned a lot! This is why I won’t be overconfident in things unless I actually have a good experience in it.  Not just for professional life, but also for personal life.

Cryptocurrencies Portfolio

Ahhh. Cryptocurrencies. The hot talk of the moment. Like everybody else, I’m up big time. I started buying cryptocurrencies in July. As of this writing, the portfolio is up 143%. I know I know, 143% is nothing compared to the actual returns of the cryptocurrencies. I currently hold Bitcoin (BTC/USD), bitcoin cash (BHC/USD), Ethereum (ETH/USD), and Litecoin (LTC/USD). If all the cryptocurrencies were to drop 99%, I will only lose 5% of my capital and continue to live as usual. To clarify, I’m not actively trading them.

Shortly after the tweet, I bought bitcoin, litecoin, and more ethereum. Until then, I continued buying all three.

I bought more ethereum before the launch of bitcoin futures, as I believed….

As the ethreum was skyrocketing, litecoin was also joining in the action. I added little more litecoins then.

As I have said in the “Long Cryptocurrencies” article, “I have no idea where Bitcoin price will be at tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, next decade.

For 2018, let’s see if I open another FX account. This one just might be algo-based.

Q1 2017 Performance: Forex

As you may know, I published my forex performance for 2016 and since inception. From now on, I will also share my quarterly performance. March 31st marked the end of first quarter, here are my performance results for FX trading.

Forex Trading Performance – Q1 2017

For currency trading, I was up 2.15%. I know, it’s low (in % terms at least). But, allow me to explain.

Before this year, my currency trades used to be in 1,000 units (or 0.01 lots), lowest I can trade. Since I usually had about 10 positions, each of 1,000 units, the nominal amount was large enough. After depositing more money and getting a clear picture of my Forex performance, I decided to increase my trades to 2,000/3,000 units (or 0.02/0.03 lots) for each position.

Getting a clear picture of my performance – average gain/loss, drawdown, trade duration, the percentage of profitable trades, etc – helped me improve my performance significantly.

This quarter [Q1], I further minimized my drawdowns. By minimizing drawdown, I minimized my returns. And that works for me. Stable uptrending P/L with a low risk.

It is true Forex is way riskier than other assets classes due to its leverage, mostly 1:50. But, that does not mean your portfolio has to include a lot of risks.

While 2.15% return this quarter from Forex trading is low, it’s still big in nominal terms for me and I’m getting a much better understanding of my weakness/strengths as I look through the metrics.

I don’t have the key metrics (besides the returns) and charts to share with you for this quarter for one reason: FXCM was Banned from the U.S. (I’m not even surprised after what happened on January 15, 2015).

FXCM is a retail FX broker and my former broker. They were banned by CFTC for defrauding retail foreign exchange customers and engaging in false and misleading solicitations.

As a result, FXCM customers were automatically changed to a different broker, Forex.com by Gain Capital Holdings, on February 24th. Unlike FXCM, this broker did not offer an analysis of trades. In addition to that, a third-party software did not offer an analysis of trades for Gain Capital’s customers since the broker did not allow the software to be connected with it.

Good news is that I’m currently in process of changing the platform to MetaTrader, which will make it easier for me to track performance metrics. The other platform, ForexTrader made it harder for tracking key metrics.

For the next quarter’s results, you can expect to see more performance metrics for FX trading.

Live On Twitter

As you may know, I tweet out trades/investments I’m making. That’s one of many reasons you should follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. One of many ways I measure success is through twitter followers, believe it or not.

Here are some of the tweets:

My target for annual FX return is 15%, with minimal violability (less than 4% drawdown).

Interested in investing in me? Feel free to privately message me for more details. The minimum investment is $1,000.

 

Note: Equity/Commodity portfolio performance will be posted later.

Update: “Q1 2017 Performance: Equity Investments” article is posted.

Update: “Q1 2017 Performance: Equity/Commodity Trading” article is posted.

Forex Portfolio Performance: Inception & 2016

 

WHAT A YEAR! Market sell-off. Complete reverse afterwards. Full of surprises, from Brexit to Trump (not for me since I predicted them).

During the global markets crash in August of 2015, I completely lost all the money I made that year plus some more in forex. Witnessing markets free fall – faster than Luke skydiving 25,000 feet without parachute – for the first time ever crushed my account to death. (For the record, I wasn’t trading in 2008 and had absolutely no idea what was unfolding that time).

Thinking euro will go to the parity level by the end of 2015, most of my positions were crowded in shorting EUR (The Big Short). Just when I thought euro would follow the markets, it acted as a safe-haven.

Lessons learned the hard way:

  • Always keep enough cash for emergency and/or new opportunities (could not make new trades)
  • Do not keep most things in one place (EUR short)
  • Do not let the perceptions – media, traders, experts, you name it – fool you (“Euro is not a safe-haven asset”)

Taking all these lessons, I completely changed my strategy and will continue to tweak it to adapt to the current conditions. After taking a break from trading in September (2015), I opened a new forex account.

Started off strongly, with high standard deviations, but enough for me to sit through that. High-risk/High-reward. As I continued tweaking my strategy, I reduced the swings in the P/L.

Figure 1: Forex Portfolio % Returns Since Inception (09/29/2015)

Starting in August 18 of this year (2016), my returns have been very stable, trending upwards (see Figure 1). It went from 144.49% return to 184.42% as of the last trading day in 2016. Last August, I made a significant chance to my strategy which led to stable returns trending upwards. I continue to tweak my strategy little by little until significant change is needed. Repeat.

Since inception (09/29/2015), I have returned 184.42%. In the second half of this year, I deposited more money into the account. In turn, the % returns you see in the pictures above and below, has a huge difference in nominal amounts.

Figure 2: Forex Portfolio Performance Since Inception

In 2015, I returned 117.48%. This year, I have returned 32.82%. Since the inception, percentage of profitable trades are 50.70%, with the average gain per trade 3.82 larger than the amount of average loss per trade.

Sharpe ratio is 1.13 (not good yet), with average monthly return of 11.01% and 33.79% standard deviation of monthly return. Compounded monthly rate of return is 7.22%.

I predicted Brexit and profited bigly off it. 30.77% of the profit came from pair GBP/USD. Thanks Brexit. How did I predict Brexit?

Predicting Brexit – 6 tweets
Figure 3: Top 3 FX pair P/L as a % of the total P/L

Largest loss was 5.21%, from pair AUD/USD. I don’t know what to blame except myself.

As to predicting Trump’s win, the profit was a fraction of Brexit profit, via other pairs than Mexican peso currency. The day after the election, the peso suffered its largest one-day drop since the Tequila Crisis of the 1990s. Too bad I did not have access to peso pair at the time. How did I predict Trump win? Tweet 12.

If you invested $1,000 in me at the inception, that money would have been worth $2,844.23 today.

You can still invest in me. Minimum investment is $1,000. Contact me for more details.

Thank you.

Update: “Equity/Commodity Portfolio Performance: Inception & 2016” article is posted.

Global Markets Crash + Asian Crisis Part 2

Global markets crash. Currency wars. What’s next? Good buying opportunity?

US markets: Markets plunged dramatically on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 530.94 points (3.12%), the worst one-day loss since November 2011 (on a % basis). The index is now down 10.2% (correction territory) below the May 19 closing and all-time high of 18,312, for the first time since 2011. For the week, the index is down 5.8%, the steepest decline since September 2011.

S&P 500 fell 64.84 points (3.19%), the worst one-day loss since November 2011 (on a % basis) and falling below 2,000 level for the first time since February. For the week, the index is also down 5.8%, the steepest decline since September 2011.

NASDAQ fell 171.45 (3.52%). For the week, the index is down 6.8%, the biggest weekly decline since August 2011.

European Markets: European stocks fell into correction territory on Friday. The Stoxx European 600 1.3% to 368.59. The index is down 11% from April 15 closing and all-time high of 414.06. For the week, the index is down 4.6%, the worst weekly performance since December. Other indexes fell into correction territory also. Germany’s DAX Index is down 18% from its highs. So far, 13 out of 18 western-European markets have lost 10% or more from their highs.

US oil prices fell just below $40 for the first time since February 2009, due to demand concerns and increasing supplies. US oil prices fell for their 8th consecutive week, the longest losing streak since 1986.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) (also known as “Fear Index”) jumped 46.45% to $28.03 on Friday. For the week, the index rose 118.47% (from $12.83 to $28.03), largest % move ever in a week.


Three factors driving the free-fall of the global markets:

  • Growing concerns (or uncertainty) about China’s economy
  • US rate-hike uncertainty. Uncertainty is the market’s worst foe
  • Plunging oil prices

There are concerns about slowing growth in emerging economies, particularly China. Economic data from China showed manufacturing PMI in China fell to a 77-month low of 47.1 in August, down from July’s final reading of 47.8. A reading below 50 represent a contraction. About two weeks ago, China’s trade data showed that July exports declined by 8.3% year-over-year (Y/Y) due to a strong yuan and lower demand from its trading partners. Exports to the Japan, European Union, and United States fell 13%, 12.3%, and 1.3%, respectively. Exports are China’s strongest growth machine. The weakness in the fundamentals started (still is) putting pressures on policymakers. Then, a surprise move came.

On August 11 (days after the exports data), the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) made a surprising move to devalue its currency (so called “one-time” move), the renminbi (RMB) (or yuan), against the US dollar (greenback) by 1.9%, the biggest devaluation since 1994 and first devaluation since the yuan was de-pegged from the dollar in 2005. PBOC decided to lower daily reference rate – which sets the value of yuan against the greenback – to make yuan more market-oriented exchange rate.

Three reasons behind China’s move:

  • Weak fundamentals, including exports
  • Desire to be included in IMF SDR basket
  • Impending US rate-hike

China’s move increased concerns over the health of its economy (second largest economy in the world) and shocked the global markets which continues today. China’s devaluation signaled that the economy there must be worse than what everybody believes. Continuous slowdown as it shifts from an export-led economy to a consumer-led economy has led Chinese government (or PBOC) to help stimulate economic activity. Over the past year, they cut interest rates four times and cut RRR (Reserve Requirement Ratio) several times. The goal is to combat slowing growth by strengthening liquidity and boosting lending (so far, unsuccessful). The recent devaluation will make imports expensive and help boost exports (reminder: exports fell 8.3% Y/Y in July).

Another reason behind China’s recent move is its desire for the yuan to be included in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR), a basket of reserve currencies, in which the US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, and British Pound are part of. Earlier this week, IMF decided to extend its scheduled revision of SDR basket (revision takes place every five years) by nine months (to September 30, 2016), giving China more time to make yuan (or Renminbi ) “freely usable”, a key requirement join the SDR basket.

Last reason behind China’s recent move is impending rate-hike in the US, which would support the greenback and would have consequences for China. The recent devaluation ended the era of Yuan appreciation which began in 2005 (reminder: yuan was de-pegged from the dollar in 2005). Ever since “Strong Yuan” policy began in 2005, Yuan (CNY) appreciated 28% against the US Dollar (USD), 30% against the Euro (EUR), and 65% against the Japanese Yen (JPY)

Rise of Yuan against most of its trading partners’ currencies has made its trading partners exports attractive. US rate-hike would have made China’s export rivals even more attractive. Now that China devalued its currency in the wake of falling exports (reminder: exports fell 8.3% Y/Y in July), its trading partners would want to protect their exports share. Therefore, China has fired the first shot to start currency wars.

Consequences of China’s actions:

Countries like Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Malaysia and Canada are likely to suffer from China’s devaluation. These countries are largest exporter to China. Don’t also forget that these countries can affect other countries. Basically, it is “Domino Effect” economically.

Earlier this week, Kazakhstan – whose top trading partners are China and Russia – switch to a free float (which means that the central bank stopped managing the exchange rate), causing its currency, the tenge (KZT), to fall 25%. The move comes due to three reasons; crude prices (Kazakhstan is central Asia’s biggest crude exporter) fell 55% in the past year, Russian has allowed its currency (ruble) to depreciate significantly as commodity prices plummeted, and due to the yuan devaluation. The motivation for the move is to preserve its export competitiveness.

Vietnam has also allowed its currency, the dong, to weaken further due to the recent devaluation by its biggest trading partner, China. Who will be next to devalue their currency in this crisis; Asian Crisis Part 2.

Commodities denominated in US dollars will become more expensive to buyers in China, the world’s largest consumer of raw materials. When China’s economy slows, demand for raw materials, such as copper, Iron-ore, etc decreases and the lower demand puts downward pressure on commodity prices.

China, second-largest oil consumer, is causing oil prices to drop non-stop, which will hurt oil exporters, such as Canada (possibly leading to another rate-cut).

Falling commodity prices mean one other thing; deflationary pressures.

Slow growth and lower commodity prices most likely will lead other central banks, especially large commodity exporters to maintain their easy monetary policies for longer. Countries with large current account deficits and/or corporations with large amount of debt denominated in US dollars could see their economic/financial conditions worsen, causing them to further increase/expand their easy monetary policy (rate-cuts, for example). Not only commodity exporters and emerging countries will suffer, but also US companies.

US companies with significant exposure to China will suffer from China’s devaluation. Such companies are Wynn Resorts, Micron Technology, Yum Brands, and Apple, accounting for China sales exposure of 70%, 55%, 52% and 30%, respectively.


When I noticed China economic getting worse earlier this year, I knew Apple depended on China a lot, so I said that Apple was overvalued as more competitors were emerging and China’s economy was about to get worse. Even though Apple’s earnings came out better than expected, I went ahead on twitter and responded to Carl Icahn’s comments on the Apple and the market. He expected (maybe still expects) Apple’s stock price to double, which I did not (and I still don’t). More competitors are starting to emerge and China’s economic conditions are getting worse (debt bubble coming).

Mr. Icahn believed the market was extremely overheated and expected market bubble. I have to agree with him. I preferred (still prefer) to use the term “correction”. At this time, I believe current market sell-off is temporary and the dust will be settled in a month (good-buying opportunity). I expect “market bubble” after the Fed raises interest rates to the range of 0.70% and 0.80% (early 2017?). That’s when market sell-off will be much worse than the current situation.

I’m calling Mr. Icahn to respond to my questions; how do you think China’s action will affect global economies (or markets)? Do you still think Apple could double in price?


Now, let’s get back to how else China can affect global economies (deflationary pressures). I expect Europe’s economy and Japan’s economy to slow down.

Europe’s economy will slow down due to export demand decreasing and the uncertainty created by Greece (Yes, they did get a bailout deal, but it’s not over). That’s why I believe European Central Bank (ECB) will either lower interest rates even further or they will increase current Quantitative Easing (QE) program, pushing Euro currency lower. Current falling prices in the European markets are a golden opportunity. Lower interest rates and/or increased QE program will send European equity prices higher>>>all-time highs will be made.

Japan, China’s largest trading partner, will also suffer due to export demand decreasing. The devaluation of yuan (or, Renminbi) will make Japanese exports less competitive. Japan’s economy is still suffering despite Abenomics (similar to QE). Recent data showed GDP (Gross Domestic Product) falling at annual pace of 1.6% in 2nd quarter, due to slowing exports and lack of consumer spending. Abenomics has failed. Additional monetary easing coming? If the economy does not get any better in the next several months, I expect additional monetary easing by the Bank of Japan (BoJ).

I don’t believe the Federal Reserve will stop its plan to hike the rates, but it will slow the pace of it. On Wednesday (August 19), Fed minutes of July meeting (leaked earlier) showed that Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members “…judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved, but they noted that conditions were approaching that point.” They also said that “…the recent decreases in oil prices and the possibility of adverse spillovers from slower economic growth in China raised some concerns.” US dollar has been falling ever since the release of fed minutes, as expectations for September rate-hike decreased.

Now more troubles emerged, I wonder what the Fed will say or do. There are many US economic reports that will come until the Fed’s September meeting. The reports will decide the fate of rate-hike for September. At this time, I expect the Fed to hike the rates in September by 10 basis points (or 0.10%).

If the current China situation (or Asian Crisis Part 2) gets out of control, there will be no rate-hike for the rest of year even if there’s strong US economic reports.

All comments welcomed. Thank you.


Disclaimer: The posts are not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks, currencies, etc mentioned. They are solely my personal opinions. Every investor/trader must do his/her own due diligence before making any investment/trading decision.