Credit spreads

Expect Nasty Volatility & Shocks This Summer

Expect Nasty Volatility & Shocks This Summer

With the stock market heading no where for the last 4 months of this year, it is high time we took a step back and view things from a systematic angle. As we approach the "sell in May and go away" phase of the year, equity returns are looking more vunulrable to adverse shocks, and flares in volatility.

YTD, the S&P 500 is almost unchanged, down marginally. Bonds (quality) and commodities (short USD) have been the best performers for the last 4 months. Vol of vol (VVIX) has remained elevated but is not yet deemed to be at alarming levels. What's in store for us may be a surprise. Or actually maybe not.

When we piece this puzzle back in a way BofAML calls the "3P's of Positioning, Policy & Profits", we can come to the conclusion that the risks are skewed south, and things could turn uglier very promptly. Therefore, it may be wise to expect very moderate returns from equities. One may wish to overweight cash, bonds, and gold while avoiding equities and non-IG corporate credit.

ECB Cuts Rates, Boosts QE & Murders Euro Shorts

ECB Cuts Rates, Boosts QE & Murders Euro Shorts

Read that again. Does the title make any sense? Just how did the ECB murder euro shorts with even more easing?

The ECB has made its move this week. Even lower negative interest rates, more QE, and rhetoric that should all else equal send the euro tumbling to new lows.

But exactly the opposite happened an hour after news hit the wires. Baffled yet? Well, most traders were. The stupendous volatility this single event has brought to the financial markets is difficult to overstate.

Contrary to intuition, the euro (EURUSD) is some 420 pips north of Thursday's lows, making this one of the largest and most brutal intraday reversals we've seen in a long while. Yields on core European sovereign debt are all higher, instead of lower. Such moves make little sense considering how much looser monetary policy is now in the Eurozone. Or does it? Let us explain.

What The Smartest Minds Think Of The Current Rout

What The Smartest Minds Think Of The Current Rout

2016 is shaping up to be like the latter half of 2015 but with a lot of additional dynamic forces warping and twisting the financial markets. Higher than average volatility has been the common theme so far but we're also noticing an incredible rapid shift in cross asset correlations. All this means that the current market environment is extremely rough, giving traders (ourselves included) a hell of a hard time.

It is no surprise that this is indeed the case. Policy uncertainty amongst central banks, oil prices that are stick in a moribund rut, very idiosyncratic technical flows that have caused traditionally lower beta assets to trade like mad donkeys, and of course the deep polarization of sentiment across the board.

It is on this note that we turn to JP Morgan's quantitative desk for answers, albeit nebulous. The desk analyzes markets in a less traditional manner, approaching this landscape with mathematical and technical tools most retail traders have zero access to.

Are Money Markets Warning Of An Unknown Unknown?

Are Money Markets Warning Of An Unknown Unknown?

It has been deftly espoused that there are two types of unknowns - known unknowns and unknown unknowns. And because risk is most commonly associated with uncertainty (i.e. unknowns), there are some risks that can never be completely hedged against - unknown risks.

Earlier last week, the 10-year swap spread went negative for the first time since 2010, making this one of the only 4 occasions since 2007 that spreads have defined financial gravity. The 5-year swap spread is on the verge of being negative, which if happens would make it the first ever in history.

The take away condensation for readers would be to prepare for unknown unknowns. 7 years of zero interest rates have distorted markets and their pricing engines on an unimaginable scale. Models that price risk, and dictate where billions of dollars flow into on a daily basis have been so badly screwed by artificially suppressed borrowing costs that a positive shock to the system knows no bounds.

Plainly said, we don't know what to expect. You can't hedge a risk you haven't yet seen. Be cautious!