January 2022 IssueLong scroll reading

Drawdown Occurs (Almost) Every Calendar Year

By Charles Boccadoro

Refinitiv dropped month-ending December data, capping 2021, early this New Year’s Day.

We are on schedule to post year-end fund results to the MFO Premium site this evening.

We added a couple of features to MultiSearch, the site’s main tool, this past month worth calling out:

  • Max Drawdown (MAXDD) and Excess Return. Better insight into a fund’s maximum drawdown, which measures peak-to-trough retraction in return across a specified time period, represented one of the motivations for the premium site. While MAXDD has been central to MFO’s search tools since 2011, back when it was hard to find on other sites and publications, we recently added it to the Calendar Year and Period Performance tools within MultiSearch (press Analyze button above results table). So, at a glance, users can now see MAXDD and Excess Return across multiple periods. Excess Return, which measures return above risk-free 3-month T-Bill rate, has been of little interest since 2009 (GFC), but again if rates normalize, this metric will gain more attention.
  • Expanded Bond Metrics. Thanks to another request from subscriber Devesh Shah, who publishes the YouTube Channel Understanding Personal Finance, users can now screen for funds by duration, average coupon, and yield to maturity … either by value levels or ratings within peer group or both. (Select Bond Info group on MultiSearch screening page.) Awareness of duration risk will increase if rates normalize. The longer a bond portfolio’s duration, the larger the drawdown per each unit increase in rate, all else equal. While the Fed attempted a couple of times to raise rates, most recently from 2016 through 2018, bond fund managers and investors have benefited from forty years of generally decreasing rates, representing the “40-Year Bond Bull Market.” (See New MultiSearch Screens To Help Analyze Impact of Rising Rates and More.)
  • SubFamily and SubAdviser. Users can now screen funds by subadviser and “subfamily,” which is a term we coined to start distinguishing acquired fund families (e.g., Oakmark and PIMCO), or distinct offerings within families (e.g., iShares). “Adviser” is becoming more and more a legal entity and not reflective of the people actually making investment decisions, particularly with so-called “white label” ETF issuers (e.g., ETF Architect). As the fund industry continues its consolidation and white labels proliferate, it can be difficult to understand who is really doing what, and honestly, hard to keep up.

Taking a peek at the Calendar Year Max Drawdown data for the S&P 500 dating back to 1926, we see that most years, investors should expect drawdown as much as 10%. These calendar year and period performance metrics are available for all 12,000 funds maintained on the site, as far back as 1960 and across 100 evaluation periods. 

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About Charles Boccadoro

Charles Boccadoro, BS (MIT), Post Graduate Diploma (von Karman Institute, BELGIUM). Associate editor, data wizard. Described by Popular Science as “enthusiastic, voluble and nattily-dressed,” Charles describes himself as “a recently retired aerospace engineer.” He doesn’t brag about a 30 year career that included managing Northrop Grumman’s Quiet Supersonic Platform and Future Strike Systems projects, working with NASA and receiving a host of industry accolades. Charles is renowned for thoughtful, data-rich analyses and is the driving force behind the Observer’s fund ratings and fund screeners.