Friday 2013-01-04

Since inception, TTF has outperformed the S&P 500 by an average of 25 basis points every month, with a max draw-down of 13% versus the S&P 500's 16%. While TTF has had lower down-side volatility than the S&P 500, the cost of hedging TTF's exposure in 2012 ran higher than the expected damage. Since we chose to take our lumps instead of paying to avoid them, we had to take our lumps in May.

Currently many people use US Treasuries as a safe-harbor holding. While the US dollar serves as the world's reserve / trade currency, the US's trade deficit and high debt to tax revenue ratio disqualifies them from TTF's holdings. Glancing at the top ten countries with the largest current account balances, we can see the difficulties of safe-haven investing.

Germany and the Netherlands use the Euro, which has its own "monetary union without fiscal union" problems. China and Russia require information that is not currently available to TTF. The Saudi and Qatari riyal is pegged to the US dollar, so any fault in the USD will cascade. Japan has an excessive amount of debt, and is threatening to devalue the yen.

This leaves Switzerland, Kuwait, and Norway. All three are small economies with small currencies, so any uptick in safe-haven capital flows causes their currency to appreciate far more than their local populations want.

As for commodities, most are commercial in nature and when the future looks bleak, people buy less. Gold seems bubbly as it's trading like equity, and goes down when the equity markets go down.

The remaining options are 1) close positions, take the tax hit, and hold US dollars; or 2) sell short something unlikely to go up and very likely to go down , or 3) do nothing, and ride out the storm.