Inflation, Commodities and Trend Following Field Guide

We used to track bond king Jeff Gundlach’s investment calls from time to time – see here and here, and didn’t miss a good Gundlach macguffin…especially when he’s talking our world of commodities.

Here’s Gundlach, via Markets Insider talking today’s environment in commodities:

“Commodities are unbelievably strong. But for the fact that they haven’t had any correction, I’d be wildly bullish on them. They are still quite cheap on a long-term basis versus the S&P 500. When the worm turns – which it looks like it has on commodities from a very cheap level – it’s not foolish to believe that commodities could outperform by several hundred percentage points.” – Gundlach suggested investors put 30% to 35% of their portfolio in commodities and other physical assets such as real estate and gold.

But 30 to 35% in “commodities and other assets like Gold?” As much as we love commodities, we’re not so sure that’s a good idea. Even if commodities are set to spout higher, they are known for their rather extremely volatile nature, as pointed out in this old post.

Over this nearly 25 year period, a diverse portfolio of commodities would have earned investors similar returns to cash with similar volatility to stocks, the exact opposite of what you would want to see from a long-term asset class. Factoring in inflation the real returns were 0.37% and 1.45% annually for the respective commodities indexes.

This data makes a strong case that commodities don’t make for a solid long-term investment as a dedicated allocation in a portfolio. They are probably much more conducive to trading than investing – Ben Carlson

Don’t be dismayed at the prospect of such poor risk-adjusted returns. Enter trend-following CTAs, or commodity trading advisors/managed futures – which are having a bit of a resurgence of late as many commodities maintain strong trends since their COVID lows last year.

Sources: SocGen CTA Index, SocGen Trend Index, Rogers Int’l Commodity Index


Investors haven’t missed a beat, seeking out skilled commodity traders and even asking yours truly for some good resources on trend…

@Nicholas_Meyers provided an alley-oop for our very own podcast, The Derivative, which delivers in-depth chats with the best and brightest in the alternative investment world. Our pod offers the opportunity to listen to top hedge fund managers tell enchanting stories and dive into how their strategies work for attacking everything from commodities to crypto. Here’s five commodities and trend following pods you didn’t know you needed:


We suggest taking a short trip through a few blog posts and our educational materials on Trend Following:


Our series on how a trend following trade works:


And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about commodity specialists who know their niche. Unlike other asset classes, many commodity markets have seasonal supply and demand forces. Combined with the potential for carry in the term structure, these markets provide opportunities for alpha with little correlation to anything else. Specialists who spend their carriers exploiting these opportunities are worth following.

The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

The programs listed here are a sub-set of the full list of programs able to be accessed by subscribing to the database and reflect programs we currently work with and/or are more familiar with.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history. Individuals cannot invest in the index itself, and actual rates of return may be significantly different and more volatile than those of the index.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

Limitations on RCM Quintile + Star Rankings

The Quintile Rankings and RCM Star Rankings shown here are provided for informational purposes only. RCM does not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of this information. The ranking methodology is proprietary and the results have not been audited or verified by an independent third party. Some CTAs may employ trading programs or strategies that are riskier than others. CTAs may manage customer accounts differently than their model results shown or make different trades in actual customer accounts versus their own accounts. Different CTAs are subject to different market conditions and risks that can significantly impact actual results. RCM and its affiliates receive compensation from some of the rated CTAs. Investors should perform their own due diligence before investing with any CTA. This ranking information should not be the sole basis for any investment decision.

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