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Detecting Crowded Trades in Currency Funds

  • Momtchil Pojarliev
  • Richard M. Levich

The financial crisis of 2008 highlights the importance of detecting crowded trades due to the risks they pose to the stability of the financial system and to the global economy. However, there is a perception that crowded trades are difficult to identify. To date, no single measure to capture the crowdedness of a trade or a trading style has developed. We propose a methodology to measure crowded trades and apply it to professional currency managers. Our results suggest that carry became a crowded trading strategy towards the end of Q1 2008, shortly before a massive liquidation of carry trades. The timing suggests a possible adverse relationship between our measure of style crowdedness and the future performance of the trading style. Crowdedness in the trend following and value strategies confirm this hypothesis. We apply our approach to currencies but the methodology is general and could be used to measure the popularity or crowdedness of any trade with an identifiable time series return. Our methodology may offer useful insights regarding the popularity of certain trades - in currencies, gold, or other assets - among hedge funds. Further research in this area might be very relevant for investors, managers and regulators.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15698.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Detecting Crowded Trades in Currency Funds," Financial Analysts Journal , Jan./Feb. 2011, pp. 26- 39. (with Momtchil Pojarliev)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15698
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  1. Pedersen, Lasse Heje, 2009. "When Everyone Runs for the Exit," CEPR Discussion Papers 7436, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel & Lasse H. Pedersen, 2009. "Carry Trades and Currency Crashes," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 313-347 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kenneth A. Froot & Tarun Ramadorai, 2005. "Currency Returns, Intrinsic Value, and Institutional-Investor Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1535-1566, 06.
  4. Gabriele Galati & Alexandra Heath & Patrick McGuire, 2007. "Evidence of carry trade activity," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, September.
  5. Robert N McCauley & Patrick McGuire, 2009. "Dollar appreciation in 2008: safe haven, carry trades, dollar shortage and overhedging," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
  6. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
  7. Kenneth A. Froot & Tarun Ramadorai, 2008. "Institutional Portfolio Flows and International Investments," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 937-971, April.
  8. Martin D. D. Evans and Richard K. Lyons., 1999. "Order Flow and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-288, University of California at Berkeley.
  9. Momtchil Pojarliev & Richard M. Levich, 2007. "Do Professional Currency Managers Beat the Benchmark?," NBER Working Papers 13714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Pojarliev, Momtchil & Levich, Richard M., 2010. "Trades of the living dead: Style differences, style persistence and performance of currency fund managers," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1752-1775, December.
  11. Kenneth S. Rogoff & Vania Stavrakeva, 2008. "The Continuing Puzzle of Short Horizon Exchange Rate Forecasting," NBER Working Papers 14071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Levich, Richard M. & Thomas, Lee III, 1993. "The significance of technical trading-rule profits in the foreign exchange market: a bootstrap approach," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 451-474, October.
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