Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For November 9, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 1,200+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 8:45 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are 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. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

Fundamental

A crypto-market leader and a lender of last resort – FTX – co-founded by Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) was little questioned by many. It appears, however, that the company had growing pain points.

Events are developing quickly, too add. Here is a note that SBF issued to investors after entering into a nonbinding agreement with Binance.

Graphic: Retrieved from @gurgavin on Twitter. Read the story on The Block.

In short, there’s little substance.

Let’s go through the motions and start unpacking this debacle. Should we have loose ends, we’ll address those in the coming days.

In late December of 2021, I spoke with SBF regarding his background and aims with FTX. The resulting work was published on Benzinga.com, where I continue to work part-time as a writer and project lead.

Graphic: Retrieved from Renato Leonard Capelj. On the top is Renato Leonard Capelj. On the bottom is SBF.

In short, SBF is an MIT alumnus who started in finance at Jane Street, a trading firm and liquidity provider. Eventually, he saw an opportunity elsewhere; there were spot price inconsistencies across cryptocurrency exchanges.

SBF then founded the firm Alameda Research in 2017. A focus, there, was to extract premiums to spot via arbitrage. SBF et al would purchase Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) domestically, send it to foreign exchanges to sell at higher prices, and, then, convert and wire the funds back. 

​​“You do have to put together this incredibly sophisticated global corporate framework in order to be able to actually do this trade,” SBF said in one conversation. “That’s the real task, the real hard part.”

In light of some frustration with existing exchange offers, SBF founded FTX.com and FTX.US parent FTX Trading Ltd. As late as September 2022, FTX was seeking $1 billion at a value of $32 billion. The firm was looking to become a one-stop-shop for retail and institutional market participants such as FTX brand ambassador and spokesperson Kevin O’Leary who I talked to just prior to my interview with SBF.

“If you’re being compliant internally and also with regulators in each jurisdiction you operate in, you don’t have the option to be off-sides,” O’Leary explained to me on FTX building one of the larger infrastructures institutions’ compliance departments could easily “work with and external auditors can audit.”

Eventually, the exchange grew to become a major player.

FTX was a top-five exchange, adding market share through acquisitions of players like Blockfolio and LedgerX, as well as building a reputation of transparency, or so it appeared, through its work with regulators.

Adding, SBF said to me he wanted FTX to cater to other asset classes and “become a global liquidity venue across the board.” In mid-to-late this year, FTX added stock trading via no-fee brokerage accounts, a follow-through on his vision.

The expansion narrative cooled, however. There was the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin, Celsius Network, Three Arrows Capital, and Voyager Digital, which FTX’s subsidiary in the US, FTX.US, won assets to in an auction this year.

At the surface, it appeared FTX was “seemingly untouchable,” as Immutable Holdings’ Jordan Fried explained online. Check out my last chat with Jordan Fried, here.

However, “cracks started to appear [and] people in crypto were taking notice”; the CEOs of both Alameda Research and FTX.US stepped down. Fried added that the situation worsened when Alameda Research’s balance sheet was leaked.

The firm had $14.6 billion in assets (nearly $4 billion in FTT, which is FTX’s utility token, and about $2 billion in FTT token collateral) against $8 billion in liabilities.

“Binance owns a bunch of FTT themselves and, two days ago, Changpeng Zhao (CZ) [who is the] founder of Binance, [said] that SBF … could be lobbying to get regulators to help out FTX more than Binance.” In response, CZ was to “dump all $2 billion of FTT” Binance was holding.

This coincided with a large selling pressure on the FTX utility token. With Alameda Research having ~50% of their assets in FTT, Fried says, “they were dead in the water”. A run appeared likely and, with FTX and Alameda Research’s dealings so intertwined, “the failure of one meant the failure of another.”

On the heels of billions in withdrawals, users weren’t “getting their cash” and, ultimately, in SBF seeking to protect users’ assets, FTX entered into a strategic transaction with Binance.

The follow-on impacts of this week’s events, during which SBF saw a ~90% wipeout of his wealth, can be speculated on. Apparent losers include SoftBank Group Corporation’s (OTC: SFTBY) Vision Fund, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and Tiger Global Management.

Some, including Arthur Breitman of Tezos (CRYPTO: XTZ), mulled the impact of FTX’s potential divestment from Solana (CRYPTO: SOL) which “took a drubbing Tuesday,” along with just about every other crypto token including Bitcoin.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Noteworthy are the impacts of this crypto-market turmoil in equities. As I stated in a note to SpotGamma subscribers yesterday, following “news of a liquidity crunch at FTX, when the selling accelerated in FTT [] and Bitcoin, so did the selling in the S&P 500.”

“The bottom, in all three products, happened at 2:30 PM ET.”

Graphic: Retrieved by Physik Invest from TradingView.

I add that these products – S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) and Bitcoin – have traded in sync and held positive correlations.

In short, both are recipients of the same risk-on and -off flows. Easy monetary policies cut financial asset volatility and pushed market participants into riskier investments. In short, it was easier to borrow and make longer-duration bets on ideas (e.g., crypto and Ponzi-like DeFi, growth, risky private equity investments) with a lot of promise in the future. 

Financial asset investments were more attractive. That’s, in part, why we saw asset inflation early on in 2020 when policymakers embarked on historic interventions.

Monetary authorities cut interest rates and bought bonds, all the while money was sent to people. Risk assets were the first to respond. Then, as the economy reopened, demand picked up, supply chains tightened, and prices in the real economy inflated.

As we added on Monday, de-globalization and persistent supply chokepoints (e.g., Ukraine and Russia) have done little to help. Inflation remains a problem and investors are seeking safety amid Fed intervention. 

Financial assets are in less demand while real assets are in more demand. A disruption (or reversal) in these policies puts at risk the prevailing carry regime. A stock and crypto market drop is, in part, the result of an unwind in carry. 

The drop is a deflationary shock, precisely what policymakers are seeking, per Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar who says inflation is a structural issue, and “we [have] to generate a round of negative wealth effects to lower demand such that it becomes more in line with the new realities of supply.” 

As we established on Monday, that invokes “collateral damage to the US economy,” S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) economists have put forth “as households and businesses pull back spending and investment.” 

For example, just announced today, Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: META), which became wrapped up in the speculativeness of the early 2020s reaching beyond the crypto markets, hence the name change from Facebook Inc, is seeking to cut 11,000 jobs.

Per Bloomberg, “the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused [] revenue to be much lower than expected.”

Ultimately, a deflationary pulse manifesting disinflation in consumer prices may prompt the policymakers to reverse on rates and efforts like quantitative tightening (QT), the (out)flow of capital from capital markets.

We’re seeing demand erode and many businesses starting to suffer the effects of a switch to “just-in-case” from “just-in-time,” according to S&P Global Inc. Inventories (which are to be sold at a loss) are piling up and workers are needed less.

That’s a recession.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “The overhang is leading to canceled orders, a sharp slowdown in global trade growth and stagnating factory activity. On one hand, it’s good that logistics networks are seeing relief from the logjams that plagued the start of 2022 — ocean-shipping rates have tumbled close to pre-pandemic levels and delivery times are shortening.”

This said, the “risk of recession, whether it is real or merely implied by an inversion of the yield curve, won’t deter the Fed from hiking rates higher faster or from injecting more volatility to build up negative wealth effects.”

“Rallies could beget more forceful pushback from the Fed,” which is a concern given the poor performance in implied volatility (IVOL) that’s resulted in participants’ disinterest in maintaining their hedges this year; equities’ left tail is growing.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. Initially created by QVR Advisors. “When shares drop, demand for fresh protection remains subdued given the unusually thin positioning among big money. At the same time, put owners quickly book profits, often leading to a drop in implied vol.

In summary, there’s no longer “a disinterest and unimportance to cash flows.” The commitment to reducing liquidity and credit has consequences on the real economy and asset prices which rose and kept the deflationary pressure of policies at bay.  

It is elevated volatility and persistent declines that are to prompt investors to lower their selling prices in risk(ier) assets (e.g., options bets, metals, cryptocurrency and stablecoins, equities, bonds), and compete for cash.

Positioning

Based on traders’ current positioning, the market, absent exogenous shocks, is more so prone to sharp upside reversals and a slow(er) grind lower.

As the former Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan explained to me once, therefore, you “want Deltas and leverage” via options trades that are defined risk and two-to-four months out in maturity.

We shall go more into this, later.

Technical

As of 8:45 AM ET, Wednesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher.

If above the $3,828.75 HVNode, the $3,874.25 HVNode is in play. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as high as the $3,909.25 MCPOC and $3,936.25 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower.

If above the $3,828.75 HVNode, the $3,806.25 LVNode is in play. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as low as the $3,787.00 VPOC and $3,727.00 VPOC, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.

Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low volume (LVNodes), then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to HVNodes for favorable entry or exit.

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote 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.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, ex-Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 16, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures took back the post-Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) bump. Bonds and most commodity products (less gold) followed suit. 

The Federal Reserve (Fed) admitted to run-away prices and committed to slaying inflation via tougher action. Accordingly, the central bank upped interest rates by 75 basis points. This was the largest increase since 1994 and, as the Fed commented, another 75 basis point hike may be in store at the next meeting in July.

In other news, the Celsius Network (CRYPTO: CEL), a crypto favorite that amassed in excess of $20 billion in assets, froze withdrawals to stop what some say was a potential bank run. Private equity is facing a so-called “crisis of value” given over inflated prices in that market. 

We shall unpack the latter, below, a bit.

Also, U.S. retail sales posted their first drop in five months, the Bank of England raised its rates along with the Swiss central bank which surprised with its first hike since 2007.

This is all the while Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) buyback desk was flooded with volumes about 3 times last year’s daily average. This could be construed as companies viewing the latest selloff as an “opportunity to repurchase shares rather than retrenching.”

Ahead is data on jobless claims, building permits, housing starts, as well as the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index (8:30 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are 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. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Fed funds rate upped 75 basis points. 

Now, it appears the rate will surpass 3% after the FOMC affirmed its commitment “to returning inflation to its 2% objective.” Participants reacted, pricing in the potential for a rate peak in the range of 4.00-4.75% early-to-mid 2023, after which the easing cycle is to likely take place.

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

The overnight rate is expected to peak near 4.23% by mid-2023. This is a given via a quick check of the Eurodollar (FUTURE: /GE) futures curve, a reflection of participants’ outlook on interest rates. The peak of the Fed-rate-hike cycle – terminal rate – is around March 2023 (previously it was June).

For context, the price of /GE reflects the interest offered on U.S. dollar-denominated deposits at banks outside of the U.S. With that, they’re “expressed numerically using 100 minus the implied 3-month U.S. dollar LIBOR interest rate,” per Investopedia. This means that at current March 2023 prices (95.775), this reflects an implied interest rate settlement rate of 4.225%.

Read: The shift from the Eurodollar to SOFR is accelerating as “SOFR adoption cracked 50%.”

Moreover, the FOMC’s forecasts for inflation have moved all the while predictions for 2023 and 2024 have not. 

Graphic: Via FOMC. Taken from Bloomberg.

GDP growth estimates, too, have shifted but with the expectation there still will be growth.

Graphic: Via FOMC. Taken from Bloomberg.

As stated in this morning’s introduction (above), these policy adjustments are inflicting damage on some inflated areas of the market like crypto and private equity.

Recall that prevailing monetary policies made it easier to borrow and make longer-duration bets on ideas with a lot of promise in the future. Central banks, too, underwrote losses of this regime and encouraged continued growth. This had consequences on the real economy and asset prices which rose and kept deflationary pressures at bay.

As well put forth in our May 18, 2022 commentary, the recent market rout is a recession and the direct reflection of the unwind of carry. Capital was “misallocated” and the Fed’s move to control price stability is “completely unreasonable” as they’re not in a position to do it “without bringing down the markets,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

Read: Kris Abdelmessih’s Moontower #148 on prevailing macroeconomic perspectives.

As Lyn Alden of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy put forth, “unfortunately for the Fed, the U.S. economic growth rate is already decelerating” and, to cut inflation, it must reduce demand for goods. Indeed, this is recessionary and is already reflected by slowing retail sales.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “As price pressures become more entrenched in the economy, spending will likely ebb either due to higher prices, higher interest rates, or both.”

As Bloomberg explains, spending has shifted and is supported by consumers spending down their savings and leveraging credit cards. 

Read: Klarna’s debt costs rise as buy-now-pay-later sector suffers.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. This “could be concerning if Americans fail to keep up on payments. That could ultimately mean a slowdown in the pace of inflation-adjusted consumption.”

“If this credit bubble ever pops, it’s going to be the most catastrophic market failure that anyone has ever read about — but let’s hope that doesn’t happen,” Mark Spitznagel, Miami-based Universa’s CIO, said in early June. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a tough spot.” 

Perspectives: “The move in markets prices in more than enough recession risk, and we believe a near-term recession will ultimately be avoided thanks to consumer strength, Covid reopening/recovery, and policy stimulus in China,” JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic and his team said

Positioning: Measures of implied volatility had come in, yesterday, and that was significant in that participants have a lot of exposure to put options.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator.

Further, (naively) we see it as liquidity providers being short those puts. As volatility continues to come in, the exposure of those options to direction (delta) compresses. 

As a result, liquidity providers cut some of their negative (static) delta hedges to that positive delta put position.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

This means that the potential options expiration (OPEX) related bullishness, so to speak, was pulled forward and, now, markets, being markedly lower than they were immediately after the FOMC event, are at risk of trading into (and below) the sizeable interest down below.

Read: Daily Brief for June 15, 2022.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR). Updated 6/15/2022.

As stated, yesterday, these options, down below, have little time to expiry and, thus, their gamma (options sensitivity to direction) grows rather large, at near-the-money strikes.

Graphic: Text taken from Exotic Options and Hybrids: A Guide to Structuring, Pricing and Trading. 

As the time to expiry narrows, above the strike in question delta decays, and counterparts buy back their static delta hedges. 

As the time to expiry narrows, below the strike in question delta expands and counterparts sell more static delta to hedge.

Graphic: Text taken from Exotic Options and Hybrids: A Guide to Structuring, Pricing and Trading.

This means that if below these high-interest strikes, associated hedging, less any new reach for protection would pressure markets lower. If above, hedging, less new sales of protection, would bolster markets higher.

Ultimately, if lower, all else equal, the June 17 OPEX will coincide with the removal of the in-the-money options exposures in question. This opens a window during which markets may have less pressure to rally against.

Bonus: As SpotGamma explains, “​​[g]iven the supply and demand of volatility, as well as divergences in the volatility that the market realizes and implies from options activity, there’s a case to be made for maintaining positive exposure to direction via long volatility.”

Read: Trading Volatility, Correlation, Term Structure and Skew by Colin Bennett et al. Originally sourced via Academia.edu.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR). The divergence in volatility implied (IVOL) by participants’ options activity, versus that which the market realizes (RVOL) resurfaced on June 15, 2022, in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX).

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,688.75 HVNode puts in play the $3,727.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,727.75 HVNode could reach as high as the $3,773.25 HVNode and $3,808.50 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,688.75 HVNode puts in play the $3,664.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,664.25 HVNode could reach as low as the $3,610.75 HVNode and $3,587.25 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low volume (LVNodes), then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to HVNodes for favorable entry or exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.