February 1st, 2012

KISS in Market Timing Too

KISS is an acronym for the design principle articulated by Kelly Johnson, Keep it simple, Stupid!  Variations include “keep it short and simple”, “keep it simple sir”, “keep it simple or be stupid”, “keep it simple and straightforward” or “keep it simple and sincere.”  The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex, therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Other forms of this maxim are “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler” (Albert Einstein), and “”Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” (Leonardo da Vinci).  The principle is true whether applied to the design of an airplane, conceiving the theory of relativity or developing a market timing tool.

The following statement was made in a post today entitled “Golden Crosses Can Lead To Golden Losses“:

“While both CCM [that’s Ciovacco Capital Management] market models have jumped back into bull market territory, the Bull Market Sustainability Index (BMSI) is approaching levels that are typically associated with market corrections.”

Stick a statement like that in front of me and I had to find out more about the BMSI to see how it compares with my MMM (Market Momentum Meter) which members know that it is serves as the barometer of my market timing approach and is previewed here.

About the only similarity between my MMM and the BMSI is that both are depicted on a scale that runs from Red to Green.  While my is a simple 5 traffic light approach, the BMSI looks like this:

But the similarity ends there.  Where the MMM uses 4 moving averages and the underlying S&P 500 Index, the BMSI is constructed with 30 different indexes as follows:

Complexity doesn’t mean precision and precision doesn’t mean accuracy.  It sort of reminds me of Cramer inferring in his “are you diversified?” segment that investors are safe and can generate high returns over the long run by merely diversifying their portfolio.  Aggregating a large and diverse number of indicators doesn’t necessarily give a better market timing signal than do a combination of four moving averages.

I’ve back-tested the MMM back to 1963 and am convinced that it performs well.  It got me out of the market in 2007, signaled reentry back into the market in 2009 and kept me safe through the fears brought on by last summer and winter’s worst European sovereign debt and US debt downgrades and budget debates.  It’s just issued a new signal indicating ….. sorry, that’s for members only.

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