Friday, March 15, 2013

More Alfidi Analytical Tools Add Up in March 2013

My search for good statistics and decision tools never ends.  I'm throwing some more at you this month.  Find the new ones in my analytical tools widget in the far right-hand column.

Esri Thematic Atlas is a downloadable app that links demographic and economic data to geography.  I can see urban planners and municipal development officials using it to make zoning decisions but its power goes far beyond that application.  I plan to use it to track regional energy use and other economic activity.

USGS LandSatLook Viewer is free data on human use of land.  It's not directly related to financial markets but it can provide useful background info on tradeoffs between economic development and environmental preservation.

Cass Freight Index tracks shipping activity in the U.S.  I consider it to be a concurrent indicator of turning points in the broader economy as measured by GDP.  It's also indicative of sustainable activity in the domestic trucking sector.

The Baltic Dry Index is published by the Baltic Exchange.  It amalgamates measures of ocean freight into a general barometer of the global shipping sector.  I consider it to be a concurrent indicator for turning points in the global economy.

The Association of American Railroads statistics page is an excellent source on activity in U.S. Class I railroads.  I consider the weekly data on railcar loads under Rail Time Indicators to be a concurrent indicator for the U.S. economy.  Their other stats are very useful in comparing railroads' traffic to their financial results.

One more addition for this month is the Callan Periodic Table of Investment Returns.  It compares the returns of several asset classes in a graphic format that resembles the scientific community's periodic table of elements.  This format allows for an easy demonstration of how portfolio diversification works.  Mean reversion is all that matters in diversification by asset class.  I use it very simply to determine which asset class is undervalued in a given year.  An undervalued asset class is a far more worthy addition to my own portfolio than a class that has outperformed and now trades at a premium.  In simple terms for an indexed strategy, the class at the bottom is the most likely "buy" and the class at the top is the most likely "sell."  In real terms, I haven't bought any of these classes in recent years because the liquidity-induced bubble in all of them is bound to burst.

All of these tools give me source data for my blog articles.  Some of them will help me determine what to buy as the economy heads for its inevitable reckoning with reality.  Don't bother copying my strategy or actions, because those are for me only and not intended for anyone else.  You might get a kick out of watching me do what I say I do.  Stupid people like Notre Dame grads and Mickey Ronin won't get it and that's awesome.