Trend Hedge Funds Benefit from Bond Market Rout
Trend Following and Systematic Hedge Funds Find Relief in Bond Market Turmoil
A recent sell-off in government bonds has caused concern in global markets, leading to a decline in equities. However, amidst the turmoil, trend following and systematic hedge funds have emerged as unexpected winners.
Winners in a Bond Selloff
Trend following and systematic hedge funds have long been positioned for a decline in government bond prices due to expectations of higher inflation. As bond yields in the United States and Germany reach multi-year highs, these funds have benefited from the selloff, while stock markets have been derailed.
Positive Performance for Trend Following Hedge Funds
According to a Societe Generale index tracking the performance of 20 of these funds, the average performance for this year up to October 4th was a positive 2.3%, a significant improvement from the negative 4% in March. This positive performance reflects the belief that the bond market needs to stabilize before equity markets can find stability.
Trend Following Hedge Funds and Their Strategies
Trend following hedge funds, also known as “managed futures” funds, utilize computer algorithms to predict market movements and initiate trades accordingly. While many of these funds rely on price data, their trading models also take into account macroeconomic factors.
Shorting Government Bonds
AlphaSimplex, a $7.9 billion trend following hedge fund, has been shorting U.S. and European government bonds for the past two years. They are not alone, as six other trend and systematic funds have also revealed that they are short on government bonds, particularly U.S. Treasuries.
Challenges Faced by Trend Following Hedge Funds
Despite their recent success, holding onto bets that bond prices would fall has caused significant pain for these funds. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank in March led to a plunge in short-dated U.S. Treasury yields. However, the recent jump in yields has allowed many of these funds to recover.
Adapting Strategies for Risk Management
In response to the March turmoil, some trend funds reduced their fixed income holdings. Aspect Capital, an $8.2 billion hedge fund, refocused its portfolio to benefit from differences in values found in currencies and agricultural markets, while maintaining a smaller short fixed income position.
Diversification and Capturing Trends
Instead of shrinking positions, some funds have diversified their holdings. AQR Capital Management expanded the markets traded in its classic trend strategy to include harder-to-access alternative markets, resulting in a positive return for its AQR Alternative Trends Strategy.
Economic Dispersions and Independent Market Movements
Trading strategies have become more challenging as economies take different paths. While the U.S. economy remains resilient, Europe and China are experiencing weakening trends. This lack of synchronicity among major economies has led to higher dispersion among commodity trading advisors.
The Changing Economic Landscape
The economic picture this year has been one of dispersions, with major economies setting their own pace. This divergence in economic outlooks has added complexity to trend following strategies.
Overall, trend following and systematic hedge funds have navigated the bond market rout successfully, capitalizing on their positions and adapting their strategies for risk management. As economies continue to evolve, these funds will need to remain agile to capture trends and generate positive returns.