Commodities as a diversifier

In the past few years, the correlation between commodities and other asset classes has increased, calling into question the diversification benefits of commodity indexes.

An academic study suggest that the increased correlation is caused by the slew of ETFs and funds that now track commodities. With  access these products, passive investors buy and sell commodities as a homogenous block, as opposed to individual future contracts. As a result, fundamental supply and demand characteristics of individual commodities no longer matters. Consistent with this theory, the correlation of non-indexed commodities has remained close to its long term average.

Read more in this research summary.

Symbol discovery for stocks, funds and ETFs

With an improved data feed in place, Kwanti expanded its coverage of the US market to more than:

  • 22000 mutual funds
  • 13000 stocks
  • 1000 ETFs

To help you retrieve symbols, we added an auto-completion box:

We plan on further expanding our coverage later this year. Please note that money market funds are not supported at this time; we suggest rolling all money market fund positions into the $CASH position, which earns the US 3 month T-bill rate, a fair approximation for money market fund rates.

Snapshots: custom charts on demand

To obtain a chart image suitable for printing or including in your web page or blog, use the snapshot function.

To take a snapshot, click the camera icon on top of the chart.

Take a snapshot

A snapshot window opens where you may customize the image, as shown below. For example, you may:

  • switch to a white background
  • scale the image to fit a specific size

edit snapshot

Finally, click Save Image to select the destination folder for the image file.

The snapshot function is available for most charts in Portfolio Lab, including the backtest, correlations and efficient frontier charts.

Build your own benchmark

Standard benchmarks such as the S&P500 and Russell indexes are commonly used for performance analysis because of their ubiquity. However, they represent specific asset classes so they are not appropriate as a benchmark for a diversified portfolio that covers multiple asset classes.

With Portfolio Lab, you can build a model portfolio made of indexes, and use this model portfolio as a benchmark. To create your benchmark:

  1. Use ‘Edit->New’ to create a new model portfolio. Enter the benchmark name as the portfolio name.
  2. Enter the index constituents of the benchmark with their weights. In Portfolio Lab, the index tickers start with ‘$’.
  3. Select rebalancing: monthly

Your newly created portfolio can now be used as a benchmark. Whenever you need this benchmark, click Compare option in backtest, then A portfolio, then select your benchmark. You may also use this as a benchmark in the PDF report.

If a particular index is not available, you may also use ETFs as proxies for benchmarks.

Watch a video tutorial

Visualizing the maximum drawdown

Portfolio Lab reports the maximum drawdown in the backtest module. We added a visualization of the drawdown on the return chart, along with the drawdown peak, trough and duration, as shown below:

Maximum drawdown

The maximum drawdown of a portfolio for a given period, is the biggest decline in value from peak to trough. Drawdown is one of many metrics for risk. Its advantage is to be fairly intuitive and understood by most investors.