Back to Basis: A Universal Return Predictor Across Asset Classes

64 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2020

See all articles by Marat Molyboga

Marat Molyboga

Efficient Capital Management, LLC

Date Written: September 10, 2020


This paper shows analytically that the basis between spot and futures contracts contains information about future returns of securities across the asset classes of commodities, equity indices, fixed income and foreign exchange. The bases in commodities are positively correlated with a leading indicator of the business cycle whereas the bases in the financial assets are negatively related to the short-term rate. The return predictability of the basis can be captured with a simple multi-asset long-short strategy which produces an out-of-sample Sharpe ratio of 0.5 and an alpha of 2.5%-4.5% per annum with respect to commonly used asset pricing models. Specifically, the analysis includes five Fama-French Factors, a bond index and futures risk premia of multi-asset momentum, value, time-series momentum, and four asset-specific carry factors. The strategy performance is counter-cyclical and robust to transaction costs.

Keywords: return predictability, basis, futures markets

JEL Classification: G1, G11, G150

Suggested Citation

Molyboga, Marat, Back to Basis: A Universal Return Predictor Across Asset Classes (September 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Marat Molyboga (Contact Author)

Efficient Capital Management, LLC ( email )

4355 Weaver Parkway
Warrenville, IL 60555
United States
6306576842 (Phone)

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