Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For August 15, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 800+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 7:30 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

According to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) Prime Services, this is the third largest short-covering rally in three years.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The rally, as discussed in past commentaries, is, in part, the result of “volatility-target funds” and “trend-following funds” getting back into the market as volatility falls, sentiment and data on jobs improve, as well as cooler-than-expected inflation figures.

Graphic: Retrieved from Stenos Signals. “Unless SMEs are lying, inflation has peaked for now … Will it change the market psychology?”

“The machines seem hell-bent on pushing the financial conditions easing trade,” said Dennis DeBusschere, the founder of 22V Research. 

“Machines are eating the words from the Fed speakers for breakfast.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “The issue is the giant pool of systematic funds that moves in and out of the market based on how turbulent prices are. With peace at hand of late amid a four-week rally, so-called volatility-target funds and similar strategies such as risk parity are buying between $2 billion to $4 billion of stocks per day, according to an estimate by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Kate Gandolfo.”

Notwithstanding, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) estimates overall CTA exposures remain subdued. To incite ultra-impactful “buy signals” the S&P 500 would have to rise to $4,400.00.

This “would prompt CTAs to step up buying” and, potentially, turn “‘max long’ on stocks, buying probably $100 billion to $200 billion across various trend-following strategies.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Yardeni Research Inc.

Though the S&P 500 has yet to retake the $4,400.00 level, likely to remain as support until the end of the week, at least, are options hedging flows, which we talked about last week. 

“That can last perhaps another 100 days if volatility stays low,” JPM’s Kate Gandolfo suggested.

For context, at least at the index level, customers are short call, long put against their equity. In a rising market, the call side solicits increased hedging on the part of counterparties. 

If counterparties are long the call, and the market is rising (falling), they must sell (buy) underlying to re-hedge. This can further contain realized volatility and support the market.

To act on this information, you are best off shrinking your timeframe and using if/then statements to put on trades. For instance, if the market rises past the downtrend line in the S&P 500, then the 2022 equity bear market is over. We should bias ourselves long, at that point.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. Drawn on by Physik Invest.

Accordingly, over a larger horizon, its growth impulses, as well as the availability of credit and liquidity determine whether a market’s movements have legs.

Accordingly, “in the 1970s, the peak in inflation proved THE timing to load up on risk assets, but the missing link is a bottoming growth cycle,” Andreas Steno Larsen explained.

“The swiftly weakening growth cycle may rather be the EXACT reason why inflation has started to fade.”

The likes of Campbell Harvey, PhD, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, among others, share a similar belief. 

In fact, Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar sees inflation as a longer-lasting structural issue as “the pillars of the low inflation world – [de-globalization and populism] – are changing.”

As Crossmark Global Investments’ Victoria Fernandez puts it well, “We have probably reached peak inflation, but the stickiness of the inflation that remains (i.e., rents) keeps pressure on the Fed and therefore the markets.”

Graphic: Retrieved from The Macro Compass.

“We expected a summer rally due to better-than-expected earnings, but we aren’t satisfied that this is sustainable. A soft landing is still achievable, but we still anticipate volatility with so many unknowns out there.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Callum Thomas’ Weekly S&P 500 ChartStorm. The “seasonal/cycle outlook is for a lower low or retest of the lows over the next three months as we are in the worst two months of the year and are smack dab in the *Weak Spot* of the 4-Year Cycle”

Positioning

Please refer to our detailed Daily Brief for August 12, 2022. We shall add to this narrative in the coming sessions.

Technical

As of 7:30 AM ET, Monday’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.

Any activity above the $4,253.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,275.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,303.00 Weak High and $4,337.00 VPOC, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,253.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,231.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,202.75 RTH Low and $4,189.25 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.

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 August 8, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 750+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 7:45 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above 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

In a non-farm payroll update, it was shown that the US added more than two times the jobs many economists thought it would.

“Some of this is driven by a reduced participation rate – a smaller portion of the population seeking work and showing up in unemployment data,” Bloomberg’s John Authers explained

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

“It now becomes much easier for the Federal Reserve (Fed) to [continue] rais[ing] rates. If the employment market is still strengthening, while inflation remains its highest in decades, it’s hard to see why it shouldn’t.”

Accordingly, market participants are pricing a greater than 50% chance of the target Fed Funds rate increasing by 75 to 100 basis points to a target range of 300 and 325 basis points, up from 225 and 250 right now.

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

Therefore, in addition to this (projected tax increases, the expected high coupon issuance/QT doubling in September and Q4, and the like), the “knee jerk re-leveraging flow [is likely to] not survive,” per Damped Spring’s Andy Constan.

Additionally, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) strategists, both express an outlook at odds with the recent market rally on the back of “better-than-feared second-quarter earnings.”

Per MS’s Michael Wilson, the expectation profit margins will continue to expand into 2023 is “unrealistic due to sticky cost pressures and receding demand.”

“While prices to the end consumer are still rising at a rapid clip, prices for producers are rising at double the pace.”

GS’s David Kostin concurs and expects net margins to drop ~25 basis points in every sector led by energy, health care, and materials, Bloomberg summarizes.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data compiled by @jkonopas623. Fed Balance Sheet data, here. Treasury General Account Data, here. Reverse Repo data, here. NL = BS – TGA – RRP.

On the topic of geopolitical conflict, which we talked a lot about in the August 3 letter, the US’s Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week prompting Chinese military exercises in the region.

Overall, it is likely not in China’s best interest to press the conflict much further,” Authers puts forth. “Taiwan’s role in the world’s electronics industry means that the global economic impact of any conflict could dwarf the disruptions of the last two years sparked by the pandemic.”

These disruptions would pain the world, including China.

Positioning

As of 6:40 AM ET, Monday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.13%. Net gamma exposures decreasing may help with an expansion of range.

Given where realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility measures are, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of complex options structures (e.g., back spread).

Here’s our August 5 letter for more context.

For concision, we quote SpotGamma: “It’s the case when the fuel from a drop in option implied volatility is spent, as well as the sticky open interest at current prices rolls off, that options-related hedging does less to keep markets pinned.”

Technical

As of 6:40 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the upper part of a positively 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.

Any activity above the $4,153.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,189.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,227.75 HVNode and $4,259.75 LVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,153.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,117.75 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $4,073.00 VPOC and $4,040.75 HVNode, 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.

Considerations: Responsiveness near key-technical areas (that are discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with short time horizons are very active. 

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 August 5, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 750+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 7:00 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

Shortened fundamentals section, today.

It’s the case that from mid-2020 to late-2021, as well explained by Damped Spring’s Andy Constan, the decline in risk premiums boosted assets, across the board.

Then, when “the drumbeats of quantitative tightening (QT) sounded on December 29,” the expansion in risk premiums bolstered a rotation out of risk.

Per Constan, conditions are unchanged. 

The “knee jerk re-leveraging flow [] will not survive the high coupon issuance/QT doubling of the September and Q4. Fade the [fear of missing out] until Turkey day when Santa comes to town.”

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data compiled by @jkonopas623. Fed Balance Sheet data, here. Treasury General Account Data, here. Reverse Repo data, here. NL = BS – TGA – RRP.

Positioning

As of 7:00 AM ET, Thursday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.14%. Net gamma exposures are increasing which may promote tighter ranges.

Further, given where realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility are, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of options structures (e.g., put back spread and/or call ratio spread).

Here is some context.

Per past letters, such as the Daily Brief for August 2, the monetization and counterparty hedging of existing customer volatility (i.e., options) hedges, as well as the sale of short-dated volatility, particularly in some single stocks where there was “rich” volatility into the fall, lent to lackluster performance in IVOL and index mean reversion.

Graphic: RVOL (orange) versus IVOL (white) on the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX).

These forces have only grown and are, presently, adding to the stickiness of the move higher. 

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma on 8/4/2022.

Why? 

Well – though naive – if we take participants as trading similar to the way they do historically (i.e., buying stocks and hedging by selling calls and buying puts), the counterparty is left with a bullish trade (i.e., short put, long call). 

Depending on (A) where the market is in relation to this exposure, as well as (B) where this exposure is more concentrated, the call or put side may solicit increased hedging activities.

Today, with markets trading higher and participants becoming increasingly active on the call side, the counterparties have a trade that is (becoming increasingly) bullish; positive delta (i.e., exposure to direction) and gamma (i.e., rate of change of exposure to direction) are growing.

Further, knowing that participants are concentrating their bets on options close to current market prices, which are very short-dated (and with little time to expiration), the counterparty’s exposure is way more sensitive to changes in direction because options can go from having a lot of value to very little in a small window (of time and movement). 

In other words, it is a fact that an option that is at the money can go from having a near 50% chance of expiring in the money to 0%. However, if the time to expiry is shorter, then the speed at which these options may go from a near 50% chance of expiring in the money to 0% rises.

That’s probably one of the simplest ways one could explain put it.

Therefore (with activity becoming more concentrated at options strikes near current price, all the while IVOL continues to fall), into weakness, counterparties lean toward buying (selling) dips (rips).

Adding:

If you (like a counterparty) own a call option and want no exposure to the positive payoff when the market moves higher, you sell the underlying asset (e.g., stock, future).

If the market is sideways and slightly lower, while volatility is generally trending lower, as it is recently, and your option declines in value, then you must rebalance your hedge. So, you would buy (cover) some of your existing short stock and futures position to rebalance your deltas.

That’s supportive.

Read: SqueezeMetrics’ “The Implied Order Book” for more regarding the impact of options trade on underlying liquidity.

Moreover, the trends above may be coming to an end as entities are squeezed out of trades that aren’t working (i.e., participants continue to rotate out of poor-performing volatility and commodities). 

Accordingly, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explains that markets can, now, as that suppressive options activity fades, potentially, “really begin to respond to the core macro factors.”

Here’s why.

Should markets experience a shock (e.g., China and U.S. tensions escalate), the new demand for hedges may result in an “untethering” in IVOL, which was “one of the most supportive things into the decline,” Karsan explained.

That means that now is the best time to rotate into call options that are outperforming “their delta to the upside.”

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread.

You may ask: what’s bolstering some of the market’s strength, in the shorter term?

In spite of negative macro narratives, as IVOL continues to decline and options, in general, are less sought after per their poor performance, what’s providing an added boost is the “cohort of quantitative-based investment strategies [buying] equities when volatility is lower,” according to statements by the Wall Street Journal.

“This year, these so-called systematic strategies have exited the market to historically low levels, meaning they have plenty of buying power.”

Much more next week! Talk soon.

Technical

As of 7:00 AM ET, Thursday’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 balanced overnight inventory, just inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

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

Any activity above the $4,153.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,189.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,227.75 HVNode and $4,259.75 LVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,153.25 HVNode puts into play the $4,117.75 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $4,073.00 VPOC and $4,040.75 HVNode, 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.

Considerations: Responsiveness near key-technical areas (that are discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with short time horizons are very active. 

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 August 3, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 700+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 9:15 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

Our August 1 letter assessed, mainly, the impacts of a burgeoning economic war that is hot as well put by a recent note authored by Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar.

Read: Dr. Pippa Malmgren’s “A Hot War In Cold Places,” which was quoted by Credit Suisse’s Pozsar. Additionally, check out our archives for more analysis of Malmgren’s perspectives.

“Great powers are waging hot wars involving the flow of technologies, goods, and commodities,” the big “contributors to inflation,” a longer-lasting structural issue, Pozar puts forth.

Further, it is the case that “the pillars of the low inflation world are changing,” and geopolitics are the factors bolstering longer-lasting uncertainty and risk premia.

What was the case, before?

Previously, central bankers were waging wars “against deflationary impulses coming from the globalization of cheap resources (labor, goods, and commodities),” which we covered before.

Now, central bankers have a more difficult task stemming inflationary impulses coming from a complex and non-linear economic war between the U.S., China, and Russia that will do more, long-term, to “weaken the pillars of the globalized, low inflation world.”

So: 

  • Deflation, on globalization (and outward supply shifts), was fought with asset price inflation. 
  • Inflation, on de-globalization (and inward supply shifts), is fought with asset price deflation.

Exacerbating the de-globalization pulse on popular sovereignty, which I had the honor of talking on with Andy Constan, recently, are “wealth gains sapping labor force participation” and trends such as ESG, among other things. 

“It’s a mess: it’s easier to deal with the politics of wage setting than it is to ‘grow’ people – even in The Matrix, that’s possible only over time. Until then, we are stuck with a labor shortage, and President Biden’s top labor lawyer is the anti-Reagan: she’s encouraging the unionization of workers from Amazon to Starbucks…as opposed to firing them,” Pozsar explains.

For context, among the factors that helped Chairman Volcker stem inflation were new energy investment and the weakening of unions.

Accordingly, in a move from “generating demand structurally to soak up an excess supply of cheap stuff, to curbing demand structurally to adjust to shortages,” the prevailing tightening effort is not cyclical, as in corresponding to a business cycle. It’s structural.

It requires the sharp, “inward shift of supply curves across multiple fronts (labor, goods, and commodities),” putting the economy on an “L”-shaped path (i.e., a vertical drop in activity via recession, and flatline for a period of time as rates remain higher for longer to prevent a sharp rise in inflation, again).

Market participants, because of this, should be thinking about how deep (i.e., long-lasting) a recession is needed to curb inflation (rather than if a recession will happen at all); necessary is the purge of the “Super Size Me” mentality, Pozsar explains, and slow “interest-rate sensitive parts of the economy (housing and durables),” as well as reduce “demand for labor in services, … a function of the level of wealth across a range of assets (housing, stocks, as well as crypto).

“[W]hat the Fed is telling us when it flat-out dismisses two-quarters of negative GDP growth is that it isn’t focusing as much on the rate-sensitive parts of the economy as it did in the past,” Pozsar well summarizes, adding that 5-6% rates are not out of the realm of possibilities.

“Instead, it is focusing much more on the services economy and the labor market, which still remain strong. And therein lies the cautionary tale for the market.”

Looking out further in time, after inflation has been stemmed, the question is how the economy accelerates, again, and achieves stable growth. That depends on the West developing its own supply of things so “that ‘L’ becomes ‘L/’ and … that recovery [will be driven by] fiscally funded industrial policy.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “Interest rates may be kept high for a while to ensure that rate cuts won’t cause an economic rebound (an ‘L’ and not a ‘V’), which might trigger a renewed bout of inflation,” Pozsar wrote in his note. “The risks are such that Powell will try his very best to curb inflation, even at the cost of a ‘depression’ and not getting reappointed.”

Positioning

Regarding the topic of liquidity – money available for circulation – which was discussed in-depth Tuesday, August 2, below is an updated chart of our Liquidity Tracker. Conditions are mostly unchanged.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data compiled by @jkonopas623. Fed Balance Sheet data, here. Treasury General Account Data, here. Reverse Repo data, here. NL = BS – TGA – RRP.

Moreover, in terms of options-related positioning, as of 8:50 AM ET, Wednesday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.21%. Net gamma exposures increasing may promote tighter ranges.

Given where realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility measures are, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of complex options structures (e.g., put back spread).

The reason why? 

Well, as discussed in-depth Tuesday, prevailing policy narratives are likely to bolster risk premia “everywhere else,” and that does more to support our recent positioning analyses and the case for an “untethering” in equity implied volatility (IVOL), “one of the most supportive things into the decline,” per statements by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

Basically, given the macro risk, IVOL is likely at a lower bound (as validated by the S&P 500 trading higher and downside skew holding a bid) and, per The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “if you wanted to go out and hedge, the opportunity is still there in the equity space.”

Through downside protection (e.g., butterfly and back spreads) you can position yourself to monetize on the sort-of non-linear repricing in volatility we’re alluding there is potential for. The bid in skew is helping those structures maintain their value better, essentially.

Graphic: Time-lapse skew on the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) for Tuesday, Monday, and one week ago. Retrieved from Interactive Brokers Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: IBKR) Trader Workstation.

Technical

As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the upper part of a positively 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.

Any activity above the $4,117.75 MCPOC puts into play the $4,149.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,164.25 RTH High and $4,189.25 LVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,117.75 MCPOC puts into play the $4,073.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,040.75 and $4,015.25 HVNodes, 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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 July 28, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 600+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 7:00 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

Key, yesterday, was the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) move to rein inflation with another 75 basis point interest rate hike. This lifted the target for the federal funds rate to 2.25-2.5%.

Accordingly, with inflation (which is to be dampened) a negative for stocks, a primary driver behind this year’s de-rate, already, equity markets closed sharply higher.

Graphic: Via Schroders plc (OTC: SHNWF). Taken from the Weekly S&P 500 ChartStorm.

Despite room for higher rates, the Fed explained future decisions would “depend on the data,” and that, per Bloomberg, the economy is likely “to withstand rapid monetary tightening.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. Tighter liquidity and credit bolster demand for money as well as the deflation of risk assets. “There used to be too little demand. Now there’s too little supply. And in a world of too little supply, the country doing the most to generate demand, which is the US, is exporting its problem—its problem being inflation,” per Harvard’s Jason Furman.

Adding, participants are, now, pricing in the potential for a federal funds rate peak in the range of 3.25-3.50% early-to-mid 2023, down from 4.00-4.75% after the last rate hike took place.

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

Strategists at the likes of Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) put forth that it is likely, given an economic slowing, that the Fed, indeed, cuts rates next year and ends quantitative tightening (QT).

“The Fed is likely to stop QT with rate cuts due to the contradictory signal it sends on monetary policy and to simplify policy communications; the Fed will likely not want to be easing with rate cuts but tightening with QT,” the bank’s strategists explained. 

An end to QT would cut the supply that the “Treasury needs to issue to cover Fed redemptions. It also means the Fed may conduct secondary purchases, further limiting the amount of supply the market needs to absorb.”

This is in comparison to the narrative we discussed earlier this week, put forth by Damped Spring Advisors’ Andy Constan.

With “most of [the Fed] balance sheet reduction to be run-off” – non-reinvestment of “proceeds from maturing assets they own” – coupled with the Treasury halving “coupon issuance that the market must absorb,” Constan explained, instead, that the “Fed is done for the summer.”

This is likely to “result in less surprise and falling asset volatility” as investors realize “they are now under-risked,” which may drive a “risk premium contraction” and demand for risk assets.

Positioning

As of 6:50 AM ET, Thursday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.22%. Net gamma exposures increasing may promote tighter ranges.

It is often, just after an event, that market movement is the result of inventory rebalances. Per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, the subsequent move is to be “tied to the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT).” 

Graphic: Retrieved from MarketWatch.

Rising rates and the withdrawal of liquidity, coupled with the impact of inflation and an economic slowing, could prompt continued pressure on equity markets.

Given the macro risk, and the poor performance of implied volatility (IVOL), relative to that which markets have realized (RVOL), per The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “if you wanted to go out and hedge, the opportunity is still there in the equity space.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS).

Should investors “ditch their [old] hedges in frustration as sentiment improves, because they didn’t work properly in a falling market,” this may set up “the potential for a second-leg-down event,” in the next year, as well explained in the Systemic Individual Investor.

“During the next sell-off, panic put-buying can cause a much more violent downward spiral, because options dealers are forced to sell an increasing amount of S&P futures into an accelerating down move.”

So, what to do? 

With call options outperforming “their delta to the upside,” it continues to make much sense to replace static equity long exposure with that which is dynamic, Karsan explained.

Technical

As of 6:50 AM ET, Thursday’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 prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

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

Any activity above the $4,015.75 HVNode puts into play the $4,041.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,041.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,071.50 BAL and $4,095.00 VPOC, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,015.75 HVNode puts into play the $3,971.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $3,943.25 HVNode and $3,921.00 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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 July 26, 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!

Graphic updated 5:00 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

What’s the theme?

It’s that policymakers are seeking to curb further escalation in inflation expectations so, per Bloomberg, “companies and workers [don’t] act in ways that would push prices ever higher.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Adding, despite the potential that the economy is already in recession (bolstered by supply chokepoints, which are “not in the central banking playbook”), per Damped Spring’s Andy Constan, risk premiums, which are the return on investments in excess of the risk-free rate, have expanded substantially on the anticipation of tightening.

Interest rates have risen and are expected to continue rising. Quantitative tightening (QT), which is more of a direct flow of capital to capital markets, on the other hand, just began.

Graphic: Retrieved from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

In a write-up, Constan puts forth that “the obvious question is whether the frontrunning of QT has fully priced in?” 

“When looking at the sheer magnitude of the balance sheet reduction both in total reduction amounts and pace the immediate answer and one that we believe is consensus is [NO].” 

Further risk premium expansion is inevitable and, with inflation entrenched, the odds are against central banks. Notwithstanding, with the Fed planning “most of its balance sheet reduction to be run-off,” which is opting to “not reinvest the proceeds from maturing assets they own,” as well as the Treasury’s halving of “the amount of coupon issuance that the market must absorb,” Constan puts forth that the “Fed is done for the summer.”

“Our expectation is that the Fed will continue to validate the current path. That will result in less surprise and falling asset volatility” as investors realize “they are now under-risked,” which may drive a “risk premium contraction over the near term.”

Adding, on the topic of earnings, operating leverage may “provide some buffer for input costs to inflate more than revenue without hitting margin growth.” This factors into Constan’s optimism.

Positioning

As of 5:00 AM ET, Tuesday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.25%. Net gamma exposures remain positive and may continue to promote tighter ranges.

Given where realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility measures are, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of short-dated complex options structures (e.g., low-cost call ratios).

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS).

The reason why? 

In short, per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, the “tail risks are building” and no longer is volatility likely to be pinned by sentiment and positioning, as well as the hedging on the equity volatility.

For more, the very detailed Daily Brief for July 21, 2022, explained it best. Check that out, here.

Graphic: Retrieved from Interactive Brokers Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: IBKR) Trader Workstation. Posted by SpotGamma. Short-dated, pre-FOMC, volatility is sold. Longer-dated, post-FOMC volatility is bid. “The IV decline likely stalls ahead of Wednesday FOMC, which stalls equities.”

Technical

As of 5:00 AM ET, Tuesday’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 balanced 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.

Any activity above the $3,965.00 VPOC puts into play the $3,997.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the $3,997.00 VPOC could reach as high as the $4,016.25 HVNode and $4,055.25 LVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $3,965.00 VPOC puts into play the $3,943.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $3,909.25 MCPOC and $3,867.25 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.

Considerations: The market is in balance.

This is rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance areas make it easy to spot a change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend). 

Modus operandi is responsive trade (i.e., fade the edges), rather than initiative trade (i.e., play the break).

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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 29, 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 traded sideways-to-lower, keeping intact the bearish tone from yesterday. Commodities were mixed. Bonds, the dollar, and implied volatility were bid.

At a micro-level, the selling was not similar to that of past market turmoil events. Instead, stocks were sold, but on the back of tame and steady volumes. Adding, the market’s responsiveness to key visual areas may mean that participants with shorter time horizons are more active, pointing to the potential that those with larger horizons are waiting for better entry or more information.

In terms of the news, similar to yesterday, narratives remain uninspiring. The key is that there are signs that inflation may soon turn the corner, as discussed in yesterday morning’s letter. In accordance with that perspective are comments by trader and macro strategist Andy Constan, who this letter’s author spoke with last week and will share insights extracted, below.

Ahead is data on GDP (8:30 AM ET), as well as talks by Federal Reserve (Fed) and European Central Bank (ECB) officials (9:00 AM ET, 11:30 AM ET, and 1:05 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 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

Perspectives: This letter’s objective is to provide salient information one may use in developing a tradeable narrative. Today, we’re taking a different approach and adding some diversity to the format by threading important points from the conversation Physik Invest’s Renato Capelj had with trader and macro strategist Andy Constan, the CEO and CIO of Damped Spring Advisors.

Without further ado, here it is.

The University of Pennsylvania alumnus had his start in finance in the 1980s when he joined Salomon Brothers. There, he excelled quickly and was the “go-to for questions.”

At one point, Salomon tapped Constan for his assistance with the 1987 stock market crash where he learned more about self-reinforcing market strains and how dynamic hedging processes may manifest market volatility.

Constan, later, managed Salomon’s derivatives operations, as well as the sale of those services. He said a lot of his success, in those years, was owed to making “everything systematic” and “operat[ing] with a framework.”

He, then, spent some time at Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates where he was key in the firm’s research on volatility as an asset class. The lesson Bridgewater instilled was to “spend time finding the persistent trade,” parameterizing and executing, accordingly.

The alpha stream from the capture of that systemic edge is an asset itself.

Through the decades of experience, Constan eventually pivoted after recognizing that edges built on top of relative value (RV) – “the capture of inefficiencies generated from some form of concentrated positioning that pushes assets out of whack” – would fail on macro happenings.

Most noteworthy were Constan’s comments on the market’s de-rate

As we’ve talked about in this letter in the past, for decades monetary policies were the go-to instrument for stimulation. This money stocked a technological revolution, bolstered the supply of goods, and, by that token, promoted deflation, which was kept at bay by rising asset prices.

Trends in the geopolitical climate, a focus on fiscal stimulation, as well as supply chokepoints, have stoked goods and services inflation. The commitment to addressing inequality, as well as misallocations of capital through a tightening of liquidity and credit has consequences on the economy and asset prices, which are highly connected given multi-decade trends.

Stemming inflation, via supply-side economics, alone, is folly, as explained in the article. Trends like de-globalization are destructive to prosperity.

“The most destructive things to future prosperity are the tendencies that have developed over the last five years, like Brexit, the border wall, and the war in Ukraine. Comparative advantages, which globalization is essential for, generates uninsured supply chains and now we’re spending money on insurance.”

As the article explains, at its core, prices are set by the equilibrium between the supply and demand for goods. Both are not in line, and the stimulative monetary policies that helped keep the supply-side in check are not on the table, all the while supply chain replication is not adding to production.

Though that’s inflationary, political gridlock is a dampener on the trend.

What about the more pressing matter? Are we in a recession? 

The simple answer is yes, and 2022 is likely to be a 1% total GDP year with a 4% inflation rate. That said, an equity market recovery is not off the table.

We’re in a recession — a period of modestly to significantly below-trend growth — and the fiscal side would have to not force the Fed to do more by having a large spending bill which would hurt markets in a meaningful way.”

On the expression of opinions, Constan’s preferred method is to use defined risk options trades structured around his macro theses two to four months out in maturity. 

If volatility is rich, he will lean on selling credit. If volatility is cheap, he will opt to buy spreads. 

“I want deltas and leverage. My macro indicators give me an edge on price and in the worst case, the loss is limited to 10%, if everything has to go against me all at once. I can be 100% invested and only risk 10%.”

Read Full-Text: Former Bridgewater Associate Talks Recession Odds, Capturing A Macro Edge

Follow Andy Constan on Twitter, here.

Positioning: Little has changed. The volatility that the markets are realizing (RVOL) is high and, at times, in excess of that implied (IVOL). 

To cut to the chase, there’s a “higher starting point” in IVOL, and a still-present right-tail (from the positioning for a bear market rally).

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR) on 6/24/2022. Multi-expiry skew in the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ). Notice the v-shape in the shorter maturity and smirk in the longer maturity. Here’s what that means.

Both make it so we may, for zero or no cost, trade short-dated structures with asymmetric payouts.

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

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread (the inverse of a back spread).

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Wednesday’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 $3,821.50 LVNode puts in play the $3,836.25 ONH. Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $3,883.25 LVNode and $3,909.25 MCPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,821.50 LVNode puts in play the $3,793.25 Ledge. Initiative trade beyond the Ledge could reach as low as the $3,770.75 and $3,735.75 HVNode, 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.

Considerations: Push-and-pull (responsiveness) near key-technical areas (that are discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with short time horizons are very active. 

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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.

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 24, 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 softened after what appeared to be continued covering of shorts into Monday’s close. Commodities were mixed, bonds higher, and implied volatility higher.

In the news the amount of money parked at major Federal Reserve facilities climbed to another all-time high, passing $2 trillion. JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said recently that the Fed must do quantitative tightening since there’s too much liquidity in the pipes.

Adding, the Fed’s Raphael Bostic said policymakers may hike rates by 0.50 basis points after their next two meetings before pausing in September to allow for observation. This is as banks UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co cut their expectations for growth here and abroad.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) manufacturing and services (9:45 AM ET). Later, participants get updates on new home sales (10:00 AM ET) and Fed-speak by Chair Jerome Powell. Later this week, on Wednesday, participants will receive minutes of the Fed’s most recent meeting which may provide further insight into the central bank’s intent to tighten.

Graphic updated 6:15 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. 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: So long as market participants are using JPEG images of rocks as collateral for debt, it is likely we have not reached a more permanent bottom in the broad market. 

Kidding – just trying to lighten the mood, haha! Sorry to my crypto friends! 

For real, though, maybe the destruction of that market is what we’re to watch for.
Graphic: Via Corey Hoffstein. “You call it ‘tulip mania,’ but I’m gonna need to see evidence that the Dutch set up lending markets where they used paintings of rocks as collateral.”

Support of market excesses was liquidity in the financial system, a lot of which is now piling into the Fed’s overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility (RRPs).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Per the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: “A reverse repurchase agreement conducted by the Desk, also called a “reverse repo” or “RRP,” is a transaction in which the Desk sells a security to an eligible counterparty with an agreement to repurchase that same security at a specified price at a specific time in the future. The difference between the sale price and the repurchase price, together with the length of time between the sale and purchase, implies a rate of interest paid by the Federal Reserve on the transaction.”

Since the start of the year, however, the anticipation and pricing in of the removal of some of this liquidity have fed into market weaknesses.

Per the Damped Spring Advisors’ Andy Constan, the “Fed will reduce their balance sheet by choosing not to reinvest the proceeds of maturity payments of existing holdings back into the market. The U.S. Treasury will need to find new buyers for the bonds it issues.”

Please read our Daily Brief For May 5, 2022, here, for more on the Federal Reserve’s updates.

On June 1, the Fed will start the process of balance sheet reduction at $47.5 billion ($30B UST and $17.5B MBS) a month for the first three months. This will increase to $95 billion ($60B UST and $35B MBS), after, about double the maximum pace of $50 billion a month in 2017-2019.

Constan adds: “In June, that supply those markets will need to absorb will be $50 billion USD and will grow to $95 billion (of which some will be outright sales of mortgages by the Fed).”

Accordingly, “[j]ust as USD strength occurred as global investors chased U.S. assets, as the U.S. economy led the global economy out of the Covid chasm, the next leg of asset returns is more likely in countries that remain relatively easy and where the economy is still lagging.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) Vickie Chang notes: “Using history as a guide, in order for equities to come off their recent lows (and stop declining), this kind of monetary-tightening induced contraction is most likely to end when the Fed itself shifts.” 

“It may be that the market needs to see signs of the inflation deceleration that our US economists expect in the second half of the year in order to see sustained relief.”

Positioning: Pursuant to comments established last week, Dennis Davitt of Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth explains that the “realized volatility of the underlying S&P 500 is above 27% … with implied volatility of options trading between 24%-27%,” which translates to a VIX at 30%.

“It is profitable to own options with such an active and volatile cash market. This is the opposite of 2017 where the VIX was at 10% and the realized was 7%,” a trade that leverage poured into and resulted in the spectacular short-volatility ‘Volmageddon’ blow-up in February of 2018.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

What does this mean?

Davitt concludes that “18 months” out there are “elevated option prices which may foretell an increase in the volatility of the equity market through this time next year.”

Though the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) may print higher, it is likely that it does not spike and point to an immediate market bottom, all else equal, like it has in the very near past.

Graphic: Via Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth.

How to play?

It makes more sense to have exposure to underlying markets, synthetically (i.e., own options). This is based on the current relationship between realized and implied volatility.

Graphic: Via Robson Chow, founder at Tradewell. “The spread between IV and RV remains quite low relative to the past 50 trading days and 1st decile in the historical data.  It is printing where, historically, the most forward realized volatility and the weakest relative mean returns over the next 60 days can be expected.”

This is in contrast to the thesis that “long volatility is a poor equity hedge” because, on average, it’s overpriced and has less than a 100% negative correlation with the equity market.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

Given fundamental contexts, many foresee continued weaknesses. Notwithstanding, markets are stretched to the downside and the path of least resistance, based on prior comments, is up.

This is with the caveat that traders should look at the current window of time as a period during which markets have less pressure to rally against. Per SpotGamma, this is due to the put-heavy options expiration (OPEX), Friday. 

Still, the rally into Monday “pulled forward some of the energy from [those] options that were to roll off,” and now, participants are “much less hedged than they were.” Should demand return, that will bid options prices and likely solicit liquidity provider pressures which, all else equal, start to cool into the $3,700.00 S&P 500 area.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

Technical: As of 6:15 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle 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; activity above the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,969.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,061.00 VPOC and $4,095.00 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,908.75 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,862.75 LVNode and $3,831.00 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.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are very active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Large participants (who often move by committee) seldom respond to key technical inflections. It is their activity that often results in poor reliability of our technical levels.

Sometimes, the better trade is to wait for the larger participants’ entry and use the expansion of the range as a confirmation of a new trend.

Catalysts to consider include the release of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, Wednesday.

Definitions

Overnight Highs And Lows (ONH and ONL): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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, 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 May 17, 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 were higher. The S&P 500, in particular, probed the high end of the low-volume (gap) area it broke into on May 9, 2022.

The key is to monitor whether the S&P 500 is able to sustain the prices it discovered overnight. If so, then the odds that participants are, indeed, hammering out a bottom are heightened.

Ahead is data on retail sales (8:30 AM ET), industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 AM ET), the NAHB home builders’ index, and business inventories (10:00 AM ET).

Fed-speak is scattered. At 9:15 AM ET, the Philadelphia Fed’s Patrick Harker speaks on health care. At 2:00 PM ET, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is interviewed by the WSJ. At 2:30 PM ET, the Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester talks at an inflation conference. And, lastly, at 6:45 PM ET, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans speaks.

Graphic updated 6:50 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above 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: Out of all the news, it was noteworthy when Elon Musk broke with the prevailing opinion to declare the U.S. was facing a tough recession that would last up to 18 months. 

This is on the heels of a large “misallocation of capital,” he says, caused by the government printing “a zillion amount of more money than it had.”

Musk cautioned companies to watch their costs and cash flows, the latter of which we talked on the importance of in cycles where monetary conditions are tighter and there is less money to be had for corporates who are taking “the long view” and “competing on eyeballs and growth,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan who this letter’s writer spoke with last summer.

As Karsan puts it, over the last four decades, monetary policy was a go-to for supporting the economy. Money was sent to capital and that promoted deflation, ultimately creating “a disinterest and unimportance to cash flows.”

“Monetary policy has a velocity of almost zero, it goes directly to ‘Planet Palo Alto,’ and Palo Alto creates new technologies,” Moontower’s Kris Abdelmesih puts well in a summary of Karsan’s macro thesis.

“They’re sophisticated, futuristic people. They provide new self-driving cars and things getting delivered to your doorstep. They create supply … [and] does not increase demand. And so it is deflationary.”

Over the last years, in light of talk to address increasing inequality, money was sent to labor, so to speak, and that promoted inflation.

Moreover, today’s contractionary monetary policy is a blunt tool and is not equipped to “address the main problem which is a lack of supply to absorb the demand.”

Please read Moontower’s full write-up, here.

That’s sort of in accordance with comments we quoted Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar making, yesterday. Essentially, “the Fed is pursuing demand destruction through negative wealth effects,” as the “central banks can only deal with nominal” chokepoints.

By that token, we must “[c]onsider at least the possibility that the extreme volatility and lack of liquidity [we] see in markets is by design, and the Fed will not be deterred by it, but rather that it will be emboldened by it in its singular pursuit of price stability.”

With even President Biden endorsing the closure of the “wealth window,” Karsan believes corporations will have to worry about making money again.

“These cycles are a lot shorter than the monetary supply-side cycles but they tend to be very bad for multiples and great for economic growth.”

With that in mind, there is no escape. Even the traditional bond-stock relationship – the 60/40 framework – is at risk of being upended.

Graphic: Via Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors. “Zero rate hikes in 2023. Clearly, a recession is being priced in.” Per Bloomberg, a Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) survey puts the Fed put (a pivot) at $3,529.00 in the S&P 500.

Positioning: Measures of implied volatility came in. That’s significant since participants have a lot of exposure to put options.

Further, we see 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 will taper some of their negative delta short stock and futures 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.”

Those delta hedging flows with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) are on top of what has historically been a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options, particularly with respect to time (charm), into options expirations (OPEX). 

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

Notwithstanding, though proxies for buying and this hedging of existing options positioning, at the surface, appear to point to positively (skewed) forward returns, we have concern over the level at which from implied volatility is dropping from, and the general divergence between the volatility realized and implied, talked about yesterday.

Basically, as SpotGamma says, there’s not as much “stored energy to catalyze a rally.” 

SqueezeMetrics adds

The Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) compressing, while dealer gamma exposure is “more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies–it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

Therefore, we continue to focus on participating in upside with as little debit risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, further validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively 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 $4,083.75 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,148.25 and $4,184.25 high volume nodes (HVNodes), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,083.75 ONH puts in play the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $3,978.50 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.

Considerations: A push-and-pull between the largest of S&P 500 weights.

For instance, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is clinging to its prior trend.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

All the while products like Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), are trading into key supports.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

We continue to monitor our market internals and (large) changes in positioning (e.g., open interest builds at higher prices further out in time) that will provide further validation to this most recent S&P 500 reversal.

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Current reads of breadth (top charts), in particular, are uninspiring. An advance you do not short has an advance-decline line that’s pegged at +2,000, coupled with a Tick (bottom left) that has trouble closing below 0 for nearly the entirety of a session. Caution.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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, 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 April 25, 2022

Editor’s Note: Wow, what a month! Looks like there was a ton of volatility we weren’t able to navigate together.

I’m back now and will be making changes to both the quantity and quality of notes sent. In total transparency, I took on way too much work, and quality suffered a tad. I look forward to making things a bit more sustainable and am grateful for your interest in remaining a subscriber.

Interested in getting this free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below, today!

What Happened

Overnight, the equity index and most commodity futures explored lower. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid.

This is alongside news that China’s reaction to a local COVID-19 outbreak may feed into global slowdowns just as supply pressures, among other things, are pushing the Federal Reserve (Fed) to adopt a more hawkish policy stance.

Notable is the pace at which China’s yuan is falling. 

Per TD Securities, it suggests “the PBOC is utilizing the yuan as another tool to provide stimulus to the economy at a time when they are showing restraint on the monetary policy front.” 

Ahead, there are no important economic events scheduled. See who is reporting earnings, here.

Graphic updated 7:30 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: A push-and-pull, continues.

At a high level, it was surmised that many of the responses to geopolitical tension and inflation were priced in. The economy, since early pandemic disruptions, has strengthened and the need for ultra-accommodative policies is no more.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI).

That means low rates and quantitative easing (QE) – easy money so to speak – are on the way out, at least for the time being.

Recall that QE is a policy to expand the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet “to provide monetary accommodation, typically when interest rates are at a zero-lower bound (when nominal interest rates are at, or near, zero),” as JH Investment Management explains.

With QT, central banks remove assets (e.g., government bonds they bought from the private sector) from their balance sheet “either through the sale of assets they had purchased or deciding against reinvesting the principal sum of maturing securities.”

With that, we note that when bonds rise in value, their yields decline; “when the Fed embarks on bond-buying program[s] to support the U.S. economy, … [it nudges] the prices of these assets higher while pushing yields lower, which also has the effect of driving yield-hungry investors into relatively riskier asset categories that promise high returns.”

Graphic: Via ICI. Taken from The Market Ear.

As a result, participants’ demand for risk assets prompts their divergence from fundamentals. As liquidity is removed and funding costs increase, this may prompt risk assets to converge with fundamentals.

This is because, for investors to take on additional risk for return, they must receive in excess of the risk-free rate (as provided by the Treasury). This excess is the risk premium.

Previously, as the Damped Spring’s Andy Constan had previously commented, “[a]dditional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely.”

“However, if, in the unlikely event, details of QT do emerge suggesting a start of QT before June and at a greater size than expected, we would no longer be willing to hold [risk] assets as that would cause an end to any risk premium contraction possibilities.”

Well, that’s what happened in early April when Fed members said their debt holdings would be reduced “at a rapid pace” as soon as May, as well as hike rates, faster. 

“Given that the recovery has been considerably stronger and faster than in the previous cycle, I expect the balance sheet to shrink considerably more rapidly than in the previous recovery,” the Fed’s Lael Brainard said

The Fed may even raise “caps” on the pace of QT.

Graphic: Via The Market Ear. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) sees the balance sheet shrinking “to an equilibrium size of just over $6tn by early- or mid-2025, though there is substantial uncertainty about its terminal size.”

Per CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, market participants are pricing a near-100% probability that the Fed will move the target rate to 75-100 bps (+50 or +75 bps).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc. FedWatch Tool suggests a near-100% chance of a Fed hike that moves the target rate between 75 and 100 bps.

At a high-level, rates hikes take time to flow through to the economy while “QT is a direct flow of capital to capital markets or flow out of,” according to statements by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. 

“An increase in the pace of tightening of QT should mean lower stocks, wider credit spreads and a slight reduction in the need for front-end hikes,” explains Kevin Muir of the MacroTourist.

“Using the balance sheet as a tightening tool represents a large change in the Fed’s attitude, and IS NOT priced into the market.”

Graphic: Bloomberg. “Everyone bearish, but redemptions just starting,” said BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett, adding that the environment of “extreme inflation” and rates shock is just setting in, as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy. “75 basis points is the new 25 basis points,” Hartnett said, referring to the scope of future interest-rate hikes.

As an aside, adding to earlier comments on the yuan’s fall, Bob Parker, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS) explains that “When Chinese investors lose confidence in their own economy/markets, capital outflows from China accelerate, … [and] this, then, leads to a central bank which has to prop up the currency by selling some of the country’s huge reserve piles.” 

“Part of their reserves will have been/are in U.S. equities so as the reserves fall, they are natural sellers of the S&P.”

Graphic: Via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear. CNH versus SPX.

Positioning: In a comparison of options positioning and passive buying support, the returns distribution is skewed positive and points to building support for a potential short-term bounce.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The most recent liquidation resulted in participants reaching for protection and this exacerbated movement to the downside amidst the reflexive hedging.

As this short-dated exposure decays, the counterparts’ hedges are to be tapered and this may assist in the market hammering out a bottom or rallying. 

On the contrary, however, as SpotGamma explained in a recent note, “[t]op of mind as we head into new trade on Monday is the likelihood traders will not aggressively sell volatility (i.e., if they sell volatility -> that drives volatility lower -> resulting in hedging flows that support the market) until the FOMC (5/4) and/or some resolution on the geopolitical front.”

“Therefore, [] expect larger trading ranges this upcoming week.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’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 $4,247.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,274.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,314.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,247.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,227.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,227.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,129.50 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Spikes mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

In a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

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

Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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.

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.