Daily Brief For March 20, 2023

Daily commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

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Graphic updated 8:10 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /MES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /MES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of this letter. Click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. The lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. The CBOE VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) reflects the attractiveness of owning volatility. UMBS prices via MNDClick here for the economic calendar.


As well summarized by Eric Basmajian, inflation, and growth are on a downward trajectory. Most leading indicators “suggest recessionary pressure will be ongoing.” The banking crisis and response, which will ultimately “cause a tightening of lending to the private economy,” likely exacerbates the ongoing recessionary pressures.

Breaking: UBS To Buy Credit Suisse In $3.3 Billion Deal

Most strategists including the Damped Spring’s Andy Constan agree. In a recent video, Constan detailed the implications of policymakers’ intervention. In short, an asset fire sale was turned into a managed sale, and a reduction in credit creation will tighten financial conditions, slowing the economy and inflation.

“Small banks that are facing deposit outflows will see earnings and margins collapse as their cost of funds surges from 1% or 2% on deposits to 4% or 5% at the Fed funding facility,” Basmajian summarizes, noting that the increase in the Federal Reserve (Fed) balance sheet came from the discount window, new bank funding facilities, and spillover from the FDIC insurance backstop, all of which are not to be confused with quantitative easing or QE (i.e., monetary stimulus and a flow of capital into capital markets). 

Graphic: Retrieved from Bank of American Corporation (NYSE: BAC) via The Market Ear.

“As deposits leave regional and smaller banks for more yield and safety, they will flow into bigger banks that do less lending or into money market funds that don’t drive credit creation.” Consequently, there will be “a significant tightening of lending standards, and a credit crunch on the private economy as regional and smaller banks face massive funding pressure.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) via The Market Ear. “MS models show that a permanent +10pt tightening in lending standards for C&I loans leads to a 35bps rise in the unemployment rate over the next two years. Historically, recessions have arrived more than half a year after jobless claims begin a sustained rise.”

Traders are conflicted about the Fed’s coming interest rate decision. Many were expecting a couple more hikes of at least 25 basis points in size. However, following the recent bank turmoil in the US and abroad, it appears that traders think it will be one additional 25 basis point hike before rate cuts ensue in mid-2023.

Graphic: Retrieved from CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool.

Historically, selling markets on the last Fed rate hike is a good strategy, Bank of America found.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bank of American Corporation (NYSE: BAC) via The Market Ear.


Top-line measures of implied volatility or IVOL including the Cboe Volatility Index or VIX are higher heading into Monday’s trade.

Macro uncertainties have some frightened, hence “equity volatility present[ing] itself in a much stronger way,” said The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial. For this equity volatility (i.e., implied volatility or IVOL) to continue performing well, realized volatility or RVOL (i.e., the movement that actually happens and is not implied by traders’ supply and demand of options) must shift and stay higher as well (note: in many ways RVOL and IVOL reinforce the other during extreme greed or fear events.

Though big options expiries (OpEx) “may help unpin the market” and manifest market downside and follow-through in RVOL needed to keep IVOL performing, the window for this to happen may be closing.

The monetization of profitable options structures, as well as volatility compression and options decay, may result in counterparties buying back their short stock and/or futures hedges (to the short put positions they have on), thus boosting the market (particularly the depressed and rate-sensitive Nasdaq 100).

If the market rallies, that has the potential to “make things hotter” in the economy, explained Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, which emboldens policymakers to make and keep policy tighter. So, barring follow-through to the downside, any equity market upside that arises is likely limited, as a disclaimer, some think.

Apologies for rushing this section, today. More on positioning in the coming letters.


As of 8:10 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the middle part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of the prior day’s range, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

The S&P 500 pivot for today is $3,946.75. 

Key levels to the upside include $3,970.75, $3,994.25, and $4,026.75.

Key levels to the downside include $3,912.25, $3,891.00, and $3,868.25.

Disclaimer: Click here to load the updated key levels via the web-based TradingView platform. New links are produced daily. Quoted levels likely hold barring an exogenous development.

Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 (FUTURE: /MES) bottom-middle.


Volume Areas: Markets will build on areas of high-volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for a period of time, this will be identified by a low-volume area (LVNodes). The LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test.

If participants auction and find acceptance in an area of a prior LVNode, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to the nearest HVNodes for more favorable entry or exit.

POCs: Areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.


The author, Renato Leonard Capelj, spends the bulk of his time at Physik Invest, an entity through which he invests and publishes free daily analyses to thousands of subscribers. The analyses offer him and his subscribers a way to stay on the right side of the market. 

Separately, Capelj is an accredited journalist with past works including interviews with investor Kevin O’Leary, ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Lithuania’s Minister of Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė, former Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers, and persons at the Clinton Global Initiative.


Direct queries to Find Physik Invest on TwitterLinkedInFacebook, and Instagram. Find Capelj on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram. Only follow the verified profiles.


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Do not construe this newsletter as advice. All content is for informational purposes. Capelj and Physik Invest manage their own capital and will not solicit others for it.

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