A lot of backtests of systematic trading strategies omit transaction costs (in the form of spreads and fees). Simulation is then simpler, but resultant model portfolio and its performance can be misleading. In the case of currency factor investing, backtest without the tcosts simulation can pick currencies with wider spreads and higher volatilities. And in real trading, with real-world transaction costs, a strategy can, therefore, perform significantly worse than expected. A research paper written by Melvin, Pan, and Wikstrom offers an elegant optimization methodology to incorporate transaction costs into the backtesting process which allows strategies to retain their alpha …
Authors: Michael Melvin, Wenqiang Pan, Petra Wikstrom
Title: Retaining Alpha: The Effect of Trade Size and Rebalancing Frequency on FX Strategy Returns
The literature on currency investing that incorporates transaction costs uses costs relevant for small trade sizes. Using the entire order book of the major electronic brokerages for FX, we compute sweep-to-fill costs for trades of different sizes and illustrate the reduction in post-cost returns as trade size increases. Researchers should consider trade size and frequency to create realistic forecasts of post-tcost returns to gauge the capacity of a strategy. We show how incorporating tcosts (transaction costs) in the construction of a portfolio improves performance for both high and low frequency strategies and retains a larger portion of the alpha.
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There is a substantial risk of loss in foreign exchange trading. The settlement date of foreign exchange trades can vary due to time zone differences and bank holidays. When trading across foreign exchange markets, this may necessitate borrowing funds to settle foreign exchange trades. The interest rate on borrowed funds must be considered when computing the cost of trades across multiple markets.