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October 02, 2019  

Trend-Following Contrarian Gaining Traction

A global-macro trader whose resume includes a stint as a portfolio manager at George Weiss Associates is catching the attention of institutional investors.

JS Global Macro Futures, a separate-account operation led by Jason Shapiro, currently runs $25 million for an unidentified asset manager in New York. Shapiro now is in talks with at least two institutions, including a U.S. pension, about investing similar amounts. He hopes to close on those commitments before yearend.

Shapiro’s strategy, which is available only through separate accounts with a $5 million minimum investment, involves betting on the direction of equity, U.S. Treasury and commodity-futures markets. But Shapiro takes a strictly contrarian approach.

The JS Global Macro Futures Program targets “highly liquid futures markets that have extreme one-sided sentiment positioning,” Shapiro is telling investors. He waits for “an exhaustion event/reversal to occur and then takes a position opposite of the crowded trade.”

The program is largely systematic, though Shapiro reserves the right to execute discretionary trades. To hedge its bets, the systematic model employs “tight stops” in the event a market reversal doesn’t materialize.

Shapiro, who works in Charlestown, R.I., has been managing the strategy with insider money since 2016. A source said he has generated solid returns, with no down years.

Investors can access JS Global Macro Futures Program through three share classes: one that charges no management fee but keeps 30% of their profits; another that charges a 1% management fee and a 25% performance fee; and a third that charges the standard 2-and-20.

Shapiro previously founded Perbak Futures Management, where he ran as much as $200 million from 2012-2014. Prior to that, he spent about five years at George Weiss, where he managed a commodity-futures portfolio with average assets of $160 million.