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Commentary

Daily Brief For November 15, 2022

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Graphic updated 9:00 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 this letter. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

Fundamental

S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) put it really well in a recent update comparing today to the events of the mid-to-late 1630s. Dutch tulip bulbs traded as high as $750,000 per bulb (today’s money) before collapsing to near-zero.

That’s akin to what happened with the non-fungible token (NFT) craze of the late 2010s and early 2020s. Pictures of rocks sold for millions as recently as last year. Those pictures are worthless, now, and this has done a bit to dent the ecosystem’s apparent value, as well.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) via @LanceRoberts.

What’s going on to cause this:

It’s basically the case that easy money policies enabled market participants to borrow and fund longer-duration bets on ideas with (potential) promise in the future.

Financial asset investments, too, were far more attractive, and that’s why we saw the asset inflation accelerate, followed by goods and services inflation that was bolstered by chokepoints and trends (e.g., deglobalization via supply chain security and geopolitics) and, ultimately, prompted policymakers to pivot.

FTX (CRYPTO: FTT) is among the victims of this pivot. It’s apparent that the events surrounding the collapse of crypto ecosystems months back prompted a so-called “credit crunch,” an insider close to FTX’s leadership explained.

“Many loaners suddenly recalled all of their loans just to see who was still liquid. Alameda lost a lot from giving out loans to firms [that] defaulted. Alameda was now, also, on the hook for money they didn’t have since they had given a lot of the loan money to FTX or had lost it loaning to now bankrupt counterparties. [Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried] had two choices at this point, let Alameda get liquidated or send user money from FTX to ensure Alameda’s survival.”

Bankman-Fried, a massive risk taker at heart, chose the latter.

The repercussions include the following:

Apart from “strong governance and transparency [to] grow in importance as the cryptocurrency industry attempts to reassure investors and customers, … regulation of cryptocurrency markets, which was already a matter of serious debate, could accelerate,” SPGI explained, noting that some “other areas of the decentralized finance [or DeFi] market may be affected. And lastly, these contagion effects are unlikely to ripple into traditional finance [or TradFi].”

Check out Reuters (FTX bankruptcy filings in, French central bank wants quick regulation) and The Information (Startups should prepare for ‘second order fallout’ from FTX collapse).

Simplify Asset Management’s Michael W. Green (who we quoted in the past for his perspective and belief that we are in “a dot-com type collapse” that’s happened “underneath the surface of the indices which is [a result of] … passive flows supporting the largest stocks within the index, whereas the smaller stocks can be influenced to a greater extent by [] discretionary managers”) said a likely result is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and an “almost certain … change in the monetary system,” echoing what Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan said a long-time ago: “I don’t see … a clear window where cryptocurrency is not subject to constraints and I think it’s highly likely that we move towards a digital dollar.”

CBDCs are highly controversial per my chats with the likes of Edge & Node’s Tegan Kline. She said they could “be used as a mass surveillance tool. Leaders have done little to invalidate her beliefs given their recent discussions on, for example, using CBDCs to derive “carbon footprint.” 

That means having a read on where people are “traveling, how are they traveling, what are they eating, what are they consuming … This is something we’re working on,” leaders have put forth.

The point of this all is as follows:

As many may know, “there’s no ultimate buyer” in spaces like crypto and DeFi, as ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) emerging market FX and yield trader Seraphim Czecker, who is now heading risk and product management at Euler Labs, said

It’s that and the persistent interest in illiquid products that leave the door open to manipulation. Barring illiquidity, “if there’s a 10 or 15 standard deviation move, the liquidity will allow for … you [to] offload those assets quickly.

However, that’s not the widespread case.

“For example, look at what happened in the UK with the pension funds and margin calls. That is a classic DeFi strategy. You take your bonds and borrow cash against them. Then, you put it back into bonds and loop it a couple of times. That way, you have a leveraged interest rate exposure. That’s the same principle of lending staked Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH), borrowing ETH, and doing it a couple of times.”

So, there may be “second order fallout” amid all this tightening. Markets, everywhere, are to de-rate. Ultimately, there’s probably a pivot to happen, in the future, with many leaders and strategists in finance unable to agree whether that (pivot) is the result of a recession.

“To take the foot off the brake right now and not finish the job, I think it’s the absolute worst mistake that the Fed could possibly make,” Citadel’s Ken Griffin said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. In spite of Citadel seeing a recession averted, Griffin said: “I am finding it a bit hard to believe we are not going to have a recession at that point of time, sometime in the middle to back half of 2023,” adding this year finishes with “modest growth.”

Those in agreement include Stanley Druckenmiller, who once managed George Soros’ funds. “You don’t even need to talk about Black Swans to be worried here. To me, the risk-reward of owning assets doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Druckenmiller said

“When you make a mistake, you got to admit you’re wrong and move on that nine or 10 months, that [policymakers] just sat there and bought $120 billion in bonds,” he added. The “repercussions of that are going to be with us for a long, long time.”

Positioning

From a positioning perspective, much of what we’ve discussed in past notes is still true. Among others, Goldman Sachs Group Inc calculates up to $40 billion in buying over the next weeks with more than $80 billion of buying in an up market.

Graphic: Retrieved from @LanceRoberts. “Goldman calculates a whopping $38 billion to buy over the next week and substantially more (green line) if the market is up big. The chart below shows that the bank expects more than +$79 billion of net buying over the month.”

This is pursuant to our statements on the compression of implied volatility (evidenced by a shift lower in the term structure, particularly at the front end where options are most sensitive) compounding macro-type repositioning, with follow-on support coming from the reach for “Deltas and leverage” to the upside (call options)

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

As Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass puts it well: “incentive schemes drive people to be much more willing to pay and chase upside.” 

Preferred are “convex structures” that would benefit from rallies. 

However, in traders’ monetization of put protection they owned, as well as reach for upside calls (to not miss out on a potential reversal), skew is at its lows.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial. “2017 is a year that is notorious for extremely low implied and realized vol. It is fascinating to see how insanely low the call-side volatility has been this year. There is low vol and then there is, in the gutter low vol.”

If the assumption is that “further tightening monetary policy and draining liquidity off the market might cause some problems down the road,” per Fabian Wintersberger, downside convexity (bets that trade non-linearly to changes in underlying price and volatility) are attractive.

Graphic: Retrieved from Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN).

Trades that may be attractive include collars, as well explained in a recent thread by IPS Strategic Capital’s Pat Hennessy. 

“[T]he combination of historically flat skew [and] the highest rates we’ve seen in 15 years makes longer dated collars an attractive trade for those who are worried about the performance of stocks over the next year but do not want to sell or try timing the market.”

Technical

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

Our S&P 500 pivot for today is $4,000.25. 

Key levels to the upside include $4,069.25, $4,136.75, and $4,231.00. 

Key levels to the downside include $3,965.25, $3,913.00, and $3,871.25.

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

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

Definitions

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

His works include private discussions with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, the infamous Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX, ex-Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, the Lithuanian Delegation’s Aušrinė Armonaitė, among many others.

Contact

Direct queries to renato@physikinvest.com or Renato Capelj#8625 on Discord.

Disclaimer

Do not construe this newsletter as advice. All content is for informational purposes.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For November 9, 2022

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

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

Fundamental

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

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

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

In short, there’s little substance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eventually, the exchange grew to become a major player.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved by Physik Invest from TradingView.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a recession.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positioning

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

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

We shall go more into this, later.

Technical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitions

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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