From the February 2014 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Tops & Bottoms of 2013

Tops

Equity markets: Regardless of what motivated equities in 2013 — the Fed or organic growth — the move counts for those invested: The Dow Jones Industrial Average returned 29.65%, the S&P 500 returned 32.39%, the Nasdaq composite 38.32% and the Russell 2000 returned 38.82% (see chart, right).

ICE closes NYSE deal: Perhaps to “Wall Street” this is a sign of the end times, but an entrepreneurial derivatives exchange engulfing the granddaddy of them all is a top in our book. 

CFTC Charges Jon Corzine: The CFTC charged former MF Global Chairman and CEO Jon Corzine with “unlawful misuse of nearly $1 billion of customer funds and related violations.” Many former customers are still holding out for jail time.

Wasendorf sentenced to 50-year term: Victims of Russell Wasendorf Sr.’s decades-long fraud at PFGBest at least saw some justice. Maybe if he had stolen a few billion more he would have gotten away with it.

Bottoms

Media attack: If the recent poor performance for managed futures wasn’t bad enough, Bloomberg took a pretty cheap shot at the industry in a a piece this fall titled “Fleeced by Fees,” which compared the entire asset class to retail funds that add an extra layer of fees and used dubious math to make a point.

NFA President Dan Roth wrote in a letter to Bloomberg: “[The story]deliberately presents an inaccurate view of the managed futures industry. The article’s author, David Evans, ignored all of the rules that ensure customers are given correct and current information about the fees they pay and the impact of those fees on their investments.”

Managed Futures continues to struggle: It has been a tough time for managed futures as the risk-on/risk-off trades of recent years have made for choppy markets. A year ago the Barclays CTA Index experienced its first back-to-back negative years. Make it three-in-a-row as the index dropped 1.44% in 2013. 

Washington vacation: For some this may be a top, but not for the government workers who did not get paid, and the near-win debacle of a debt ceiling fight certainly didn’t provide confidence to foreign jurisdictions looking to buy more of our debt or the Fed looking to buy less of it.

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