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Market timing is an investment technique that tries to continuously switch investment into assets forecast to have better returns. What is the likelihood of having a successful market timing strategy? With an emphasis on modeling simplicity, I calculate the feasible set of market timing portfolios using index mutual fund data for perfectly timed (by hindsight) all or nothing quarterly switching between two asset classes, US stocks and bonds over the time period 1993-2017. The historical optimal timing path of switches is shown to be indistinguishable from a random sequence. The key result is that the probability distribution function of market timing returns is asymmetric, that the highest probability outcome for market timing is a below median return. Put another way, simple math says market timing is more likely to lose than to win-even before accounting for costs. The median of the market timing return probability distribution can be directly calculated as a weighted average of the returns of the model assets with the weights given by the fraction of time each asset has a higher return than the other. For the time period of the data the median return was close to, but not identical with, the return of a static 60:40 stock:bond portfolio. These results are illustrated through Monte Carlo sampling of timing paths within the feasible set and by the observed return paths of several market timing mutual funds.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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The deductive study of shape, quantity, and dependence. (From McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 6th ed)
The branch of mathematics dealing with the purely logical properties of probability. Its theorems underlie most statistical methods. (Last, A Dictionary of Epidemiology, 2d ed)
Places where animals are slaughtered and dressed for market.
The temporal order in which the DNA of the GENOME is replicated.
A phenylacetamide that was formerly used in ANALGESICS but nephropathy and METHEMOGLOBINEMIA led to its withdrawal from the market. (From Smith and Reynard, Textbook of Pharmacology,1991, p431)