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Commentary

Daily Brief For May 12, 2023

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Bloomberg reports that if the US defaults on its debt, which could happen as soon as June 1 if President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy fail to reach a deal on raising the ceiling, homebuyer borrowing costs may surge to 8.40%. As a consequence, the typical home’s monthly payment would increase by 22.00% and cool property sales; the monthly payment on a $500,000.00 mortgage may rise to $3,800.00, compared to about $3,095.00 at the current rate of 6.30%.

Image
Graphic: Retrieved from WSJ.

In prior letters, we concluded that past monetary action made stocks less sensitive to interest rates, quoting JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists that the market would likely continue to “artificially suppress perceptions of fundamental macro risks,” barring surprises like a debt limit breach.

US Tech Stocks Outperform | The Nasdaq 100 has soared amid expectations of easier Fed policy
Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

With a debt limit breach a potential reality, Moody’s Corporation (NYSE: MCO) says a breach may compound recessionary pressures; expect a drop in equities, a volatility spike, and a disruption of funding markets.

Graphic: Retrieved from Nasdaq Inc (NASDAQ: NDAQ).

“Data show that short-term bonds have the most predictable reaction – with interest rates and default insurance costs rising significantly – before quickly returning to normal after the uncertainty has passed,” Nasdaq’s Phil Mackintosh writes. “In reality, a crisis was averted in all [prior] cases, with the government able to increase or suspend the debt limit before the X Date.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Notwithstanding the short-term uncertainty regarding the debt limit, Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) is adamant there will be a recession that manifests cracks in “credit and tech,” similar to the situation in 2008. BAC sees the bubble in technology, media, and telecommunication stocks soon deflating as they face higher-for-longer interest rates and a tempered earnings outlook.

Graphic: Retrieved from Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY) via The Market Ear. While investors poured $3.8 billion into technology stocks in the week through May 10, $2.1 billion was pulled from financial equities, the most significant redemption since May 2022.

Compounding the recessionary pressures BAC sees, EPB Research adds, are banks’ funding costs, which have increased too much relative to prevailing asset yields. If the spread drops too low, bank lending tightens, and a recession occurs. Also, other data suggests tightening is finally starting to have an impact. Bloomberg reports that initial claims for unemployment insurance are on the rise. There has been a drop in overall wage growth to 5.1% last month, too, the biggest fall in the rate of increase since the series began.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Separately, breadth divergences are becoming more frequent, with the Daily Advance-Decline (A-D) Line for the NYSE showing lower highs while DJIA and S&P 500 show slightly higher highs, McClellan Financial Publications writes. The bond CEF A-D Line is also showing a bearish divergence, indicating a shift in liquidity that could weigh on other stocks, including the big-cap stocks holding up the SP500 and the Nasdaq 100.

bond cef a-d line
Graphic: Retrieved from McClellan Financial Publications.

McClellan adds that the A-D Line originated from data collected by Leonard Ayres and James Hughes in the 1920s. It was made famous in 1962.

nyse a-d line 1929
Graphic: Retrieved from McClellan Financial Publications.

That’s when Joe Granville and Richard Russell commented on it in their newsletters, noting how it had shown a big bearish divergence ahead of the 1962 bear market.

a-d line 1962
Graphic: Retrieved from McClellan Financial Publications.

To end, the economic calendar next week is focused on manufacturing and housing. The housing market is showing some downside risk for existing-home sales for April due to a weak reading on pending sales, MCO says, adding that housing permits and starts are expected to move sideways as builders remain cautious amid high-interest rates and economic uncertainty. Regional Fed surveys in New York and Philadelphia will provide the first read on factory activity for May, with little hope for a significant rebound in manufacturing. Jobless claims will be critical, as continuing the recent trend would likely signal a rapid deceleration in monthly job gains. Other critical data to be released include retail sales, industrial production, and business inventories.

Should readers wish to hedge the debt ceiling debacle, June call options on the Cboe Volatility Index appear attractive, some suggest. But, with RVOL as low as it is, owning optionality is not generally warranted. The risk is lower lows in volatility.

Image
Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma.

About

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement.

Separately, please don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

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Commentary

Daily Brief For April 17, 2023

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Inflation and employment rates remain high. Additionally, consumers show resilience, and earnings are strong. As a consequence, markets are back to pricing higher rates for longer. This is a pressure on bonds and stocks which appear “overvalued relative to coming bad news on both economic growth and corporate earnings.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via @Marcomadness2. Hedge funds are net short 2Y and SOFR futures.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) says stocks are at risk of a pullback, accordingly.

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) via The Market Ear. The indexes have front-run the pause and pivot; Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) data suggests a statistically significant disconnect between the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) and yield.

With the percentage of stocks outperforming the S&P 500 the lowest on record, MS added, a slump in technology is the big risk if yields continue to rise; the bear market is not yet over. “If there is one thing that can throw cold water on the large mega-cap rally, it’s higher yields due to a Fed that can’t stop hiking.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) via Bloomberg.

Moody’s Corporation (NYSE: MCO) expects a “0.25-percentage point increase to the fed funds rate when the FOMC reconvenes in early May.” Following this hike, there is likely to be a pause at a 5.00-5.25% terminal rate for a few months.

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

From a positioning perspective, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan stated that in the past 6-9 months, there has been a significant increase in the volume of options with zero days to expiration (0 DTE), which now accounts for 44% of the total volume. This increase in short-dated options volume has been accompanied by a similarly sized decrease in longer-dated options volume.

Further, the majority of trading activity in these short-dated options is split between hedging and directional trading, as well as yield harvesting via out-of-the-money (OTM) options sales. Though the short-dated activity may prompt cascading events in market downturns, the main issue is the reduced use of longer-dated options; a supply and demand imbalance likely resolves itself with an implied volatility repricing of great size where longer-dated options outperform those that are shorter-dated.

Traders can look to position for a potential IVOL repricing, particularly in the back half of the year when dealer positioning is less clear, buybacks are to fall off of a cliff, and the boost from short-covering has played its course.

Traders can continue to play near-term strength via call spread structures and use those profits to reduce the costs of owning longer-dated bets on markets or rates falling and IVOL increasing. If not interested in directional exposure, traders may allocate funds to T-bills and SPX box spreads which allow traders to create a loan structure similar to a T-bill. If savvy, one could find some structures yielding ~5.5%. Traders can also consider blending T-bills and boxes with directional exposure. This way, they can cut portfolio volatility but still have a bit of leverage potential. Please check out our past letters for trade structure specifics. Have a great day!

About

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement.

Separately, please don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

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Daily Brief For April 14, 2023

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Consensus is a tightening cycle that climaxes on May 3 with one final 25 basis point hike. Most traders price three cuts after—one in July, November, and December.

Note: After the release of strong bank earnings today, this analysis remains intact.

Graphic: Retrieved from CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME).

Though policymakers are successful in walking up traders’ interest rate expectations, the long end of the yield curve hasn’t budged much; despite the response to banking turmoil helping “calm conditions, … and lessen the near-term risks,” many believe the Fed will have to pivot, soon.

The Federal Reserve’s ranks expect a “mild recession,” too, validating people such as Bank of America Corporation’s (NYSE: BAC) Michael Hartnett, who said investors should steer clear of stocks. Hartnett added the expectations of a recession would solidify following the upcoming earnings season, a test of how companies have managed headwinds like the bank crisis and slowing demand.

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

Despite billions in redemptions over the past week or so, the market’s strength can continue for longer, though. Here’s why.

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) via The Market Ear.

Contextually, positioning overwhelmingly supports the market at this juncture. That’s per the likes of Cem Karsan of Kai Volatility have explained.

Falling volatility has led to billions more in buying flows from volatility-controlled funds rebalancing their risk exposures, Tier1Alpha adds, noting “there is a chance realized volatility [or RVOL] will continue to decrease until the end of next week as long as the SPX returns stay muted. If volatility rises beyond the +/- 2% threshold, net equity sales could exceed $5 billion.”

“This is not expected due to favorable CPI data and dealer positioning,” however.

With markets likely to be contained in the short to medium term, and fundamental weaknesses, such as the Fed hiking long-end yields, likely to cause them to fail in the long run—play near- or medium-term strength via call spread structures, and use the profits to lower the cost of longer-dated bets on markets or rates falling. 

In support of this view, per The Market Ear’s summary of some Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) analyses, “the disconnect between Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) and bond yields has grown to statistically significant levels.” Thus, “owning downside asymmetry” is starting to look “more attractive.”

Graphic: Retrieved from VIX Central. The compression of implied volatility, or IVOL, is a booster for equities. ​​Investors are mostly bullish with a +1 Put, +100 Stock, -1 Call position, while dealers hold the opposite with a -1 Put, -100 Stock, +1 Call position. As the volatility trends lower (e.g., S&P 500 realized volatility or RVOL is ~10), options lose value, and dealers must buy back their short stock to re-hedge. This supports the market.

About

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement.

Separately, please don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

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Daily Brief For April 11, 2023

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The narrative yesterday was bearish

A big deal was made surrounding some data that shows investors increasing their bets on US equities falling; net short positions in the E-mini S&P 500 (FUTURE: /ES) are the highest since 2011, Bloomberg reports. JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) concur as their data shows clients betting on stocks falling or reducing stock exposure quickly.

This is happening in the context of some mixed, albeit still robust-leaning, data; payrolls upped bets that the Federal Reserve or Fed would move its target rate to 5.00-5.25%. GS’ Bobby Molavi adds, “the prevalent view seems to be that more things will break on the back of rapid rise in cost of capital.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg

In light of the rate expectations, the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) appears to be handing over the leadership baton to the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX), though both indexes remain primarily intact and coiling; the fundamental-type pressures are balanced by follow-on support from those actors that base their decisions on such things as the amount a market moves (i.e., realized volatility or RVOL), says Tier1Alpha and SpotGamma.

Graphic: Retrieved from Tier1Alpha.

The two providers of market insights see falling implied (IVOL) and RVOL as catalysts for buying stocks. This, coupled with the hedging of soon-to-expire large options open interest, particularly on the put side, in a lower liquidity environment, supports the indexes while underlying breadth and correlations are underwhelming.

A large concentration of put open interest near current prices is pictured just below. The eventual removal of this put-heavy positioning will reduce some directional risks to options counterparts; as puts disappear or decline in value, their delta or exposure to direction does too. If a counterparty is short a put and has less positive delta to hedge, they may buy back some of their short-delta exposure in the underlying index, a catalyst for higher S&P 500 prices.

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma.

A large open interest concentration set to roll off this April is pictured just below.

Retrieved from SpotGamma.

This has happened before. Newfound Research explains it best in their paper titled “Liquidity Cascades: The Coordinated Risk of Uncoordinated Market Participants.”

In keeping the indexes and their underlying idiosyncratic baskets in line via arbitrage constraints, while there is a build-up of suppressive and supportive dealer hedging at the index level, “then the only reconciliation is a decline in correlation.”

In this context, Tier1Alpha explains, “lower correlations tend to lead to lower volatility … giv[ing] volatility control funds the go-ahead to augment their risk exposure, with an estimated $14 billion in equities purchases … to be spread out in blocks.”

Consequently, in line with our thesis that positioning and technical contexts support near-term strength, it still makes sense to take the profits of very wide, albeit low- or zero-cost, call ratio spread structures discussed in past letters to cut the cost of our bets on the equity market downside and lower rates with more time to expiry. Should the indexes trade higher, SpotGamma agrees with Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan that volatility could be sticky.

Hence, call structures could keep their value better and enable us to lower the cost of our bets on the market downside. If the fundamental context supporting the rotation of call option profits into puts is no longer valid, then the losses on such trades are limited; the money is made in not losing it.

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma’s Weekend Note.

Not doing as outlined and blindly buying put options to protect long equity exposure is generally a poor-performing strategy, despite the performance claims of some funds specializing in that practice.

Graphic: Retrieved from QVR Advisors via Bloomberg. “Buying puts is a money-losing proposition when considered in isolation. Chart shows the performance of hedges rolled every quarter with delta hedging, as a percentage of notional amount protected.”

About

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement.

Separately, please don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 6, 2023

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Administrative Bulletin

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement.

Tomorrow’s Good Friday, and some markets, including the US’s equity market, will be closed. The Treasury market will remain open, albeit for less time, and may enable traders to price the impacts of coming releases, including non-farm payrolls (NFP). The consensus is that the US added 235,000 jobs in March, with the unemployment rate expected to remain steady at 3.50%. Higher for longer, then? We shall see.

Moreover, the big news is that the trend in mortgage rates, followed closely in the US, continues to be down. US 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell for a fourth-straight week, though applications to buy and refinance a home declined for the first time in a month. However, borrowing costs remain generally high and housing inventory low, keeping a cap on homebuying activity. 

Notwithstanding, as explained by Akash Kanojia, for the housing market to “clear” on today’s affordability, home prices need to fall by about 20.00%. 

READ: HOW MUCH HOME PRICES MAY FALL

To explain, typically, banks use a debt-to-income ratio to determine how much they will lend to a borrower to buy a house. Adding, they could enforce a limit of 80% on the purchase price of the house, and the remaining 20.00% is paid in cash by the borrower as a down payment.

Mortgage rates comprise the short-term risk-free rate, term premium, the Treasury-MBS spread, the primary-secondary spread, and a credit spread based on the borrower’s creditworthiness. Any of these numbers changing can influence a borrower’s final payment to the lender. 

Graphic: Retrieved from Negative Convexity.

An analysis starting with a home price in 2021 of $575,000.00 and a borrower whose income was $92,000.00, and adjusting all for inflation and movements in rates, the decrease in home values to boost affordability is 21.00%.

Graphic: Retrieved from Negative Convexity. “To do this analysis, I started with a home price in April 2021[1]($575,000) and figured out how much annual income a borrower would have needed at that time to buy the house (~$92,000). I then adjusted the annual income up by 8% for 2023, extrapolating from this, resulting in a person that would have earned ~$92,000 earning $99,205 today. Then I calculated how much house a person earning $99,205 can afford today at a mortgage rate of 6.70% ($452,000). Divide the two, and you get a decrease of 21%.”

A worst-case scenario is that the fed funds rate rises further to quell inflation. If the fed funds rate were to rise to 6.00-6.25%, matching the latest annualized CPI print, and “the market realizes the Fed is not going to cut, and the curve (e.g., 3m-7y UST) steepens to historical norms (~150 basis points long-term average), barring changes in the MBS spread, primary-secondary spread, and credit charges, this produces a ~40.00% decline in home prices.

Graphic: Retrieved from Negative Convexity.

Consequently, as the economy slows and layoffs increase, as we’re starting to see, it will negatively affect housing demand and affordability due to income stability and growth. On the bright side, inflation destroys the nominal value of debt, Kanojia says. Assuming wages keep up, buyers in hot markets may be spared if they can withhold from selling at market-clearing prices, Kanojia ends.

On a note about the doom and gloom (i.e., economy slowing and layoffs increasing, as well as yield curve steepening), JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Jamie Dimon says the following: 

Today’s inverted yield curve implies that we are going into a recession. As someone once said, an inverted yield curve like this is ‘eight for eight’ in predicting a recession in the next 12 months. However, it may not be true this time because of the enormous effect of QT. As previously stated, longer-term rates are not necessarily controlled by central banks, and it is possible that the inversion we see today is still driven by prior QE and not the dramatic change in supply and demand that is going to take place in the future.

Dimon, the CEO of JPM, says that a graph showing the yields on bonds of different maturities is inverted, meaning that the yields on shorter-term bonds are higher than the yields on longer-term bonds. An inverted yield curve has often been a reliable indicator of an upcoming recession; it reflects investor demands for higher returns on short-term investments and expectations that short-term rates will fall in the future, which happens when the central bank cuts rates in response to a weak economy.

In other words, the conditions around the yield curve inversion are different this time.

Graphic: Retrieved from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. A normal yield curve is upward-sloping, meaning long-term interest rates are higher than short-term rates; investors demand a higher return for tying up their money for a longer period; the spread between the 10-year and 3-month treasury yield is positive. 

Further, a peek at the bond market shows cuts priced within six months.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via @TheBondFreak.

Same thing with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) market, developed by the Federal Reserve to replace LIBOR, which was phased out due to manipulation concerns, among other things, as a benchmark interest rate. 

READ: WHAT IS SOFR?

Unlike LIBOR, which is based on unsecured lending transactions between banks, SOFR is based on actual transactions in the overnight repurchase agreement (repo) market, which makes it a more reliable benchmark. Consequently, the shift from the Eurodollar (FUTURE: /GE), used to intervene in support of the dollar and other currencies and allow lenders to lock in rates, to SOFR has accelerated, too.

As stated yesterday, options activity in the SOFR market was centered around the 95.00 strikes. To calculate the implied interest rate using the value of the 3-month SOFR future, we can use the following formula:

Implied interest rate = 100 – future price; the implied interest rate calculated using the 3-month SOFR future is an annualized rate.

For example, if the current value of the 3-month SOFR future is 95.00, the implied interest rate would be 100.00 – 95.00 = 5.00%.

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation’s (NYSE: SCHW) thinkorswim platform. The three-month SOFR (FUTURE: /SR3) curve implies a 4.86% terminal rate today, followed by easing into year-end.

The S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) has not bottomed based on these conditions. 3Fourteen Research concludes that the SPX has never bottomed during a Fed hike cycle, which one is still ongoing; typically, forward earnings stabilize and turn higher 3-6 months after a market bottom, which hasn’t happened; the 2-10 yield curve has never remained inverted six months after a major bear market bottom.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via @MichaelMOTTCM.

Notwithstanding all the doom and gloom, we explained in past letters that markets would likely remain strong through month-end March. 

Graphic: Retrieved from Damped Spring Advisors’ Andy Constan. “6 of the last 6 quarters, the quarter end flow has resulted in a spike or dip and a subsequent 8%+ reversal.”

Accordingly, it made a lot of sense to own low- or no-cost call options structures in products like the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), where many participants were caught offsides and bidding call volatility in response to the dramatic reversal; the reach for the right tail reduced the cost of ratio call spreads, making them the go-to structures.

It may make sense to re-load in similar call structures on pullbacks while using any proceeds or profits from those structures to reduce the cost of owning fixed-risk and less costly put structures (e.g., vertical) that may enable us to participate in equity market downside, as well as bet on lower rates in the future using call options structures on the /SR3 to express that opinion.

Graphic: Retrieved from TradingView via Physik Invest.

Disclaimer

Don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 3, 2023

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Administrative Bulletin

Welcome to the Daily Brief by Physik Invest, a soon-to-launch research, consulting, trading, and asset management solutions provider. Learn about our origin story here, and consider subscribing for daily updates on the critical contexts that could lend to future market movement. Take care, and let’s dig in.

Markets are mixed with equities under light pressure following OPEC+’s surprise oil production cut. It’s likely that Saudi Arabia “realized they were getting played [on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve refill] and took matters into their own hands,” some say.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

As a recap, on Friday, measures of inflation abated. Though these measures remain high and support the context for rates to stay high, markets responded positively.

Expectations of interest rate cuts have been pulled forward based on markets like SOFR, correlated to existing money market rates, where traders’ demand for call options (i.e., bet on rates falling) reveals the fear of a heavy rate-cutting cycle.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via @countdraghula.

The S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) closed above $4,100.00 for the first time in months. Many quickly wrote about new bull markets blooming in previously depressed market areas most sensitive to monetary policymakers’ policymaking.

Recall, however, that during the dot-com bust, the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) rallied ~20% numerous times before an actual bull market was born. Experts think the same thing is happening; the rally, partly driven by monetary policy expectations and the removal/monetization of downside protection, particularly in markets where traders were most concerned about a de-rate and volatility, is probably in its later stages.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

The marginal benefit of any further volatility compression is far less than the cost one may incur by volatility expanding; “there isn’t much juice left to squeeze,” SpotGamma adds, and though short-biased volatility trades (e.g., sell options) could work for a bit longer, the risks remain, as explained on Friday. Rolling profits from the initially low- or no-cost call options structures we discussed last week into fixed-risk debit equity put options structures seem attractive. More to come. Hope you liked the new format!

Disclaimer

Please don’t use this free letter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. At this time, Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements. Separately, you may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 30, 2023

Intrigued about what moves markets and economies and how that can impact your financial wellness? Subscribe to this free newsletter below!

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /MES open is above the prior day’s range. /MES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of this letter. Click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. The lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. The CBOE VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) reflects the attractiveness of owning volatility. UMBS prices via MNDClick here for the economic calendar.

Administrative

Thanks for the feedback on the newsletter design! The technical section has returned for your viewing of crucial levels. We may update this section or merge it with another in the future. If you have any feedback, please comment or reply!

By the way, check out fx:macro’s neat market dashboard how-to-build guide! They have a fabulous newsletter, and this dashboard is an excellent component.

Take care, everybody.

Fundamental

In the coming sessions, there will be a dive into the geopolitical developments of late, far higher in quality than what we started this week with. For a sneak peek at what we will be talking about, look at this article, this podcast, and the Daily Brief for 1/4/23.

Positioning

In yesterday’s letter on positioning contexts, we concluded it was likely for markets to remain contained through month-end.

We said, “there is potential for markets to move into a far ‘more combustible’ position, … [and], with call skews far up meaningfully steep, still-present low- and zero-cost call structures” in previously depressed products like the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), buoyed by financial tensions easing, were attractive to express the bullish view.

Graphic: Retrieved from JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) via The Market Ear.

Though we weren’t too right about the potential for volatility to be sticky, which may be detrimental to some of the more expensive structures, such trades’ exposure to direction and movement appears to be offsetting time decay and volatility, sped up by the resolution of the liquidity crisis (i.e., the asset-liability mismatch at some banks that thought their depositors were far more loyal, hence less of a need to hedge risk) which prompted traders a few weeks back to demand protection and reprice options higher; the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE) and Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) have come in dramatically. Please take a look at the full letter here.

Graphic: Retrieved from NATIXIS via Bloomberg.

As stated on 3/29, the fundamental view hasn’t changed. Therefore, we may consider monetizing our structures now and in the near future and using those credits to offset debit risk in plays such as far-dated bear put spreads (i.e., buy put and sell another at a lower strike); options data and insight platform SpotGamma says the juice has been squeezed now with S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) 1-month at-the-money implied volatility or IVOL pricing at 17%. “For a decline to continue, we need a change in volatility regime (i.e., soft landing, bank crisis resolved, etc.) because, with 1-month realized at 15%, you can argue there isn’t much juice left to squeeze.” Caution on the upside plays.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via SpotGamma.

Technical

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

The S&P 500 pivot for today is $4,077.75

Key levels to the upside include $4,087.75$4,097.25, and $4,108.75.

Key levels to the downside include $4,062.25$4,049.75, and $4,038.75.

Click here to load the updated key levels via the web-based TradingView platform.

New links are produced daily.

Quoted levels likely hold, barring an exogenous development.

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

About

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

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

Connect

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

Calendar

You may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Disclaimer

Do not construe this newsletter as advice; all content is for informational purposes, and derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. Capelj and Physik Invest, non-professional advisors, will never solicit others for capital or collect fees and disbursements for their work.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 29, 2023

Physik Invest’s Daily Brief is a free newsletter sent to thousands of subscribers daily. Intrigued about what moves markets and how that can impact your financial wellness? Subscribe below.

Graphic updated 7:00 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /MES open is above the prior day’s range. Click here for the latest levels. /MES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of this letter. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. The lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. The CBOE VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) reflects the attractiveness of owning volatility. UMBS prices via MNDClick here for the economic calendar.

Administrative

The newsletter format needs to evolve a bit. Feedback is welcomed! If you are looking for the link to the daily chart, see the caption below the graphic above. Take care!

Positioning

Fear of contagion prompted demands for protection. Measures of implied volatility or IVOL rose, and consequently, these demands for protection pressured markets.

Since then, fear has ebbed.

Read: Black Swan Funds Have A Moment As Investors Hedge Market Doom

Graphic: Retrieved from TradingView.

Previously, this letter explained for protection to keep its value, there would have to be a shift higher in realized volatility or RVOL. Well, RVOL did not come back in a big way at the index level, as many expected.

Thus, the positive effects of the bank-related stimulation and traders’ pulling forward their timeline for easing were compounded by the unwinding of hedging strategies. 

Read: MBA Data Shows Rate Decline Helped Boost Home-Purchase Applications

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via SpotGamma. “This drop in 5-day realized vol (orange) is pretty sharp, given it occurred from such a low relative level. ‘Can’t short it, don’t want to buy it.’ This vol decline comes as SPX put open interest was cleared with March OPEX, and big VIX call interest expired last week.”

Previously depressed products like the Nasdaq 100 or NDX, which are generally very sensitive to monetary tightening, have performed well.

Graphic: Retrieved from Callum Thomas’ Topdown Charts.

As we near month-end, there is a quarterly derivatives expiry. Above current S&P 500 or SPX levels is a significant concentration of soon-to-roll-off open interest held short by investors. This means the counterparties are dynamically hedging a call they own; they’re selling strength and buying weakness, albeit in a less and less meaningful way, as those options near this expiration and their probability of paying out (i.e., delta or exposure to direction) falls.

Graphic: Retrieved from Sergei Perfiliev.

Some would allege that volatility compression and time decay would have solicited a more meaningful response from options counterparties at those strike prices above; the absence of downside follow-through had traders supplying previously demanded downside put protection and catalyzing a rally. However, there are not many things for the market to rally on, and so much time has passed that the charm effects (i.e., the impact of time passing on an options delta) have lessened dramatically, some explain.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg via Liz Young. “The Nasdaq’s Cumulative Advance-Decline line has parted ways with index direction in recent days. In other words, the index has rallied despite weak breadth (more stocks falling than rising), the two lines are likely to find their way back together somehow…”

Therefore, it’s probably likely that the market remains contained through month-end. After, movement may increase. This letter acknowledged RVOL might come back in a big way, particularly with the bank intervention doing more to thwart credit creation.

The caveat is that markets can trade spiritedly for far longer. There is a potential for the markets to move into a far “more combustible” position. With call skews far up meaningfully steep, still-present low- and zero-cost call structures this letter has talked about in the past remain attractive.

Graphic: Retrieved from Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) thinkorswim.

If the market falls apart, your costs are low, and losses are minimal. If markets move higher into that “more combustible” position, wherein “volatility is sticky into a rally,” you may monetize your call structures and roll some of those profits into bear put spreads (i.e., buy put and sell another at a lower strike).

Daily Brief | February 17, 2023

The signs of a “more combustible situation” would likely show when “volatility is sticky into a rally,” explains Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. To gauge combustibility, look to the options market. 

Remember, calls trade at a lower IVOL than puts. As the market trades higher, it slides to a lower IVOL, reflected by broad IVOL measures. If broad IVOL measures are sticky/bid, “that’s an easy way to say that fixed-strike volatility is coming up and, if that can happen for days, that can unpin volatility and create a situation where dealers themselves are no longer [own] a ton of volatility; they start thinning out on volatility themselves, and that creates a more combustible situation.” 

To explain the “thinning out” part of the last paragraph, recall participants often opt to own equity and downside (put) protection financed, in part, with sales of upside (call) protection. More demand for calls will result in counterparties taking on more exposure against movement (i.e., negative gamma) hedged via purchases of the underlying. Once that exposure expires and/or decays, that dealer-based support will be withdrawn. If the assumption is that equity markets are expensive now, then, after another rally, there may be more room to fall, all else equal (a simplistic way to look at this), hence the increased precariousness and combustibility.

Read: Buy-Or-Rent Premium Is Highest Since 2006 Housing Bubble

Graphic: Retrieved from Callum Thomas’ Topdown charts.

About

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

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

Connect

Direct queries to renato@physikinvest.com. Find Physik Invest on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Find Capelj on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Only follow the verified profiles.

Calendar

You may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Disclaimer

Do not construe this newsletter as advice; all content is for informational purposes. Capelj and Physik Invest are non-professional advisors managing their own capital. They will never openly solicit others for capital or manage others’ capital to collect fees and disbursements.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 27, 2023

Physik Invest’s Daily Brief is read free by thousands of subscribers. Join this community to learn about the fundamental and technical drivers of markets.

Graphic updated 9:10 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /MES open is above the prior day’s range. /MES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of this letter. Click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. The lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. The CBOE VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) reflects the attractiveness of owning volatility. UMBS prices via MNDClick here for the economic calendar.

Administrative

Sorry for the delay. Please read through the positioning section. Have a great Monday!

As always, if there are holes or unclear language. We will fix this in the next letters.

Fundamental

On 3/22, we mentioned news of Russia wanting to adopt the yuan for settlements.

And, with that, publications covering these East alliances use some tough language. One Bloomberg article notes China and Russia “roll[ing] back US power and alliances … [to] create a multipolar world … [and] diminish the reach of democratic values, so autocratic forms of government are secure and even supreme.”

Let’s rewind a bit to understand why all the toughness and fear.

Recall Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking with Saudi and GCC leaders. Here is our 1/4 summary takeaway:

Graphic: Retrieved from Physik Invest’s Daily Brief for January 4, 2023.

Essentially, those remarks confirm the East is hedging sanctions risk. Reliance on the West is falling, and this inevitably will present “non-linear shocks” (i.e., “inflation mess caused by geopolitics, resource nationalism, and BRICS”) monetary policymakers are not equipped to handle. So, are the markets at risk?

This most recent meeting between China and Russia increases the risks of unwinding the “debt-fueled economy in the US,” FT’s Rana Foroohar confirms, as we wrote in the Daily Brief for 1/4. Further, this is a threat to “hidden leverage and opaqueness.” That means the markets are at risk. Let’s explain more.

Read: Saudi National Bank Chair Resigns After Credit Suisse Remarks Helped Trigger A Slump In The Stock And Bonds That Prompted The Swiss Government To Step In And Arrange Its Takeover – Bloomberg

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

With the encumbrance of commodities, among other initiatives, these nations’ weight in currency baskets may rise and keep “inflation from slowing.” If that happens, future rate expectations are off. Additionally, “the US dollar and Treasury securities will likely be dealing with issues they never had to deal with before: less demand, not more; more competition, not less,” we quoted Zoltan Pozsar (ex-Credit Suisse) saying on 1/5.

The markets most responsive to this are public, as we saw with 2022’s de-rate. In 2023 and beyond, added liquidation-type risks lie in the private markets. This will have knock-on effects.

Graphic: Retrieved from VoxEU.

The likes of The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial mentioned to your newsletter writer in a Benzinga interview that private market investors’ raising of cash to meet capital calls could prompt sales of their more liquid public market holdings. This is a major risk Sidial noted he was watching, in addition to some risks in the derivatives markets.

At the same time, Eric Basmajian believes the “banking crisis will cause a tightening of money and credit.” This will further solidify the “broader business cycle and corporate profit recession.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. Per John Authers, “the combination of deeply troubled banks and strong performance for the rest of the stock market cannot persist much longer.”

Positioning

Sidial’s well positioned to take advantage of the realization of these risks. In January, he explained that measures like the Cboe VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) were low. This suggested, “we can get cheap exposure to convexity while a lot of people are worried.” In an update to Bloomberg, Sidial said The Ambrus Group’s tail-risk strategy (which Sidial has explained to us before) has performed well as the VIX index has risen, a sign of traders hedging concerns about “some contagion hitting and their portfolios being destroyed on that.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

“We have seen an increase in tail hedging,” added Chris Murphy of Susquehanna International Group. “We have continued to see call buying in the VIX since the bank turmoil began.” The caveat, though, is that realized volatility or RVOL, not just implied volatility or IVOL (i.e., that which is implied by traders’ supply and demand of options), must shift and stay higher for those options to maintain their values, which may be difficult according to Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

Though Karsan thinks markets will likely see RVOL come back in a big way, he thinks policymakers’ intervention will be stimulative short-term as it reverses a lot of the quantitative tightening or QT (i.e., flow of capital out of capital markets). Stimulation will be compounded by the continued unwinding of hedging strategies in previously depressed products like the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX). What do we mean by this?

Recall that traders’ closure and/or monetization of put protection results in options counterparties buying back their short stock and/or futures hedges. Therefore, before any downside is realized, the market may trade into a far “more combustible” position.

Consequently, look for low- and zero-cost call structures (e.g., ratio spreads) to play the upside while opportunistically using higher prices and elevated volatility skew to put on bear put spreads (i.e., buy put and sell another put at a lower strike price) for cheaper prices.

Consider following and supporting us on social media:

Technical

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

The S&P 500 pivot for today is $4,026.75. 

Key levels to the upside include $4,038.75, $4,049.75, and $4,062.25.

Key levels to the downside include $4,004.25, $3,994.25, and $3,980.75.

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

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

Definitions

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

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


About

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

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

Connect

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

Calendar

You may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 24, 2023

Physik Invest’s Daily Brief is read free by thousands of subscribers. Join this community to learn about the fundamental and technical drivers of markets.

Graphic updated 9:20 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /MES open is below the prior day’s range. /MES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of this letter. Click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) with the latter calculated based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. The lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Click to learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. The CBOE VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) reflects the attractiveness of owning volatility. UMBS prices via MNDClick here for the economic calendar.

Fundamental

Our Daily Brief for 3/23 discussed reactions to the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) interest rate decision being countered by Treasury secretary Janet Yellen’s deposit guarantee comments. Accordingly, doom and gloom are in full bloom prompting Yellen to walk back her toughness and tell lawmakers that regulators would protect the banking system if warranted. However, this did little to assuage markets, hence the neutral-to-risk-off sentiment this morning.

Based on the Fed’s Overnight Reverse Repo (RRP) and Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP), as well as money-market flows, strategists believe the deposit flight has not stabilized. To explain, policymakers intervened on the heels of the banking crisis in a way that’s not to be confused with quantitative easing or QE (i.e., flow of capital into markets). The Fed’s balance sheet swelled (from the discount window, the new bank funding facilities, and spillover from the FDIC insurance backstop). The balance sheet has continued to swell while money market funds and the RRP facility see big inflows.

Strategists like Andreas Steno Larsen allege that the maturity of 3-month T-bills and deposit flights partly drives this swell.

Graphic: Retrieved from ZeroHedge.

Rather than being used to boost liquidity (i.e., “lend or to finance trading activities,” as discussed in previous letters, including 9/20), reserves are being sterilized. “The Fed’s actions to stem the banking crisis are beginning to accelerate the effects of [quantitative tightening or] QT, causing money velocity to drop and intensifying the tightening of financial conditions,” Bloomberg’s Simon White reports. “In the coming weeks and months, we are likely to see reserves leaving the high-velocity world of smaller banks, where they were being lent out more, to the effectively zero-velocity black-hole of” money-market funds and RRP.

Graphic: Retrieved from ZeroHedge.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) validates this view. They think the Fed’s rate hikes and QT have coincided with funds going to money-market funds and larger banks. They add that the banking crisis has accelerated this movement.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

“Deposit movements could cause banks to be cautious on lending, with mid- and small-size banks playing a large role in US lending,” thus exacerbating recessionary pressures, they note. Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) strategists add that investors should sell equities after the last rate hike to sidestep “the biggest declines.”

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

Positioning

Brief positioning update.

As proposed in previous letters, low- or zero-cost call options structures have worked and may continue to work.

Notwithstanding, look for opportunities to play the downside as markets trade higher into a “more combustible” position. Attractive bear put spread trades are showing in the previously depressed Nasdaq 100, where boosts have, in part, been the result of “volatility compression and options decay.” If you’re participating in the Nasdaq, at least you have breadth on your side.

Graphic: Retrieved from ZeroHedge.

Technical

As of 9:20 AM ET, Friday’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 the prior day’s range, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

The S&P 500 pivot for today is $3,957.25. 

Key levels to the upside include $3,980.75, $3,994.25, and $4,005.00.

Key levels to the downside include $3,937.00, $3,921.25, and $3,891.00.

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

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

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

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

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


About

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

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

Connect

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

Calendar

You may view this letter’s content calendar at this link.

Disclaimer

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