Our previous post, used hierarchical clustering to identify market regimes in the gold miners ETF, GDX. This was inspired by a post from PyQuant News that highlighted a longer article from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). In this post, we’ll continue looking at identifying market regimes and using those predictions as signals for a simple trading strategy.
As noted, the LSEG article showed three different machine learning methods to segregate regimes: clustering, Gaussian Mixture Models (GMMs), and Hidden Markov Models (HMMs).

We recently saw a post from PyQuant News that piqued our interest, compelling us to dust off the old blog files and get back into the saddle. The post highlights a longer article from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) on how to use different machine learning models to identify and forecast market regimes. That article uses Refinitiv, a market data service like Bloomberg, which we don’t have access to.

For fundamental equity investors, the financial statement is the launchpad for the search for value. True, quants use financial statements too. But they spend less time on what the numbers mean, than on what they are. To produce a financial statement that adequately captures the economic (not GAAP or IFRS) position of a company is no mean feet and draws upon accounting, domain knowledge, and artistry. Data scientists and machine learning engineers are more than acutely aware of the chore of data processing and cleaning.

Our last post examined the correspondence between a logistic regression and a simple neural network using a sigmoid activation function. The downside with such models is that they only produce binary outcomes. While we argued (not very forcefully) that if investing is about assessing the probability of achieving an attractive risk-adjusted return, then it makes sense to model investment decisions as probability functions. Moreover, most practitioners would probably prefer to know whether next month’s return is likely to be positive and how confident they should be in that prediction.

In our last post, we introduced neural networks and formulated some of the questions we want to explore over this series. We explained the underlying architecture, the basics of the algorithm, and showed how a simple neural network could approximate the results and parameters of a linear regression. In this post, we’ll show how a neural network can also approximate a logistic regression and extend our toy example.
What’s the motivation behind showing the link with logistic regression?

Our last post parsed portfolio optimization outputs and examined some of the nuances around the efficient frontier. We noted that when you start building portfolios with a large number of assets, brute force simulation can miss the optimal weighting scheme for a given return or risk profile. While optimization finds those weights (it should!), the output can lead to infinitesimal contributions from many assets, which is impractical or silly. Placing a minimum on the weights helps a bit.

Our last few posts on risk factor models haven’t discussed how we might use such a model in the portfolio optimization process. Indeed, although we’ve touched on mean-variance optimization, efficient frontiers, and maximum Sharpe ratios in this portfolio series, we haven’t discussed portfolio optimization and its outputs in great detail. If we mean to discuss ways to limit our exposure to certain risks (presumably identified in the risk factor model) while still shooting for a satisfactory (or optimal) risk-adjusted return, we’ll need to investigate optimization in more detail.

In our last post, we took our analysis of rolling average pairwise correlations on the constituents of the XLI ETF one step further by applying kernel regressions to the data and comparing those results with linear regressions. Using a cross-validation approach to analyze prediction error and overfitting potential, we found that kernel regressions saw average error increase between training and validation sets, while the linear models saw it decrease. We reasoned that the decrease was due to the idiosyncrasies of the time series data: models trained on volatile markets, validating on less choppy ones.

In our last post, we looked at a rolling average of pairwise correlations for the constituents of XLI, an ETF that tracks the industrials sector of the S&P 500. We found that spikes in the three-month average coincided with declines in the underlying index. There was some graphical evidence of a correlation between the three-month average and forward three-month returns. However, a linear model didn’t do a great job of explaining the relationship given its relatively high error rate and unstable variability.

In our last post, we ran simulations on our 1,000 randomly generated return scenarios to compare the average and risk-adjusted return for satisfactory, naive, and mean-variance optimized (MVO) maximum return and maximum Sharpe ratio portfolios.1 We found that you can shoot for high returns or high risk-adjusted returns, but rarely both. Assuming no major change in the underlying average returns and risk, choosing the efficient high return or high risk-adjusted return portfolio generally leads to similar performance a majority of the time in out-of-sample simulations.