The 10 Year Challenge on Index Future Trading Systems


Going through a chart of the past 10 to 12 years in Emini S&P, I cannot help thinking if there is a trading model that can work well throughout the whole period of time with reasonable draw down and good performance year after year.

There was the great bull run from 1997 to 2000.

Then the bear market from 2000 to 2003.

The recovery rally from 2003 to 2005.

The slow grind from 2005 to 2006.

And then the huge volatility outbreak since middle of 2006 up til now.

Each period of time demonstrates difficulties for trading system designers to accommodate the specific characteristics of the time. Systems designed to fit a particular environment are not expected to function properly when there is an environment change.

Think of dip buying systems, and related trading styles in general developed back in 1997 to 1998. They all failed badly since year 2000.

Then in the bear time period, people started to develop the thinking that stock market can only go down. Once the recovery rally started, all trading styles and systems with bearish bias got crushed.

And then, fast forward to the current time period, trading systems designed to handle range bounded behaviour in the indices are again defeated by the market as daily trading range in the index futures are much less predictable.

But now, after going through all these phases, with historical data down to tick by tick resolution left behind. System designers can no longer stuck their heads into the sand and avoid testing their trading models against all these time periods.

The historical data for the past 10 to 12 years will be proven extremely valuable to all market participants as one can pretty much find the historical occurrences of all kinds of trading conditions. Systems that build on the anticipation of handling all these environments will surely enjoy a much longer life time comparing to ones that are optimized over a particular environment only.

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