Daily Brief For March 3, 2023

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Graphic updated 7:00 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.


Lots of content today but a bit rushed at the desk. If anything is unclear, we will clarify it in the coming sessions. Have a great weekend! – Renato


Physik Invest’s Daily Brief for March 2 talked about balancing the implications of still-hot inflation and an economy on solid footing. Basically, the probability the economy is in a recession is lower than it was at the end of ‘22. For the probabilities to change markedly, there would have to be a big increase in unemployment, for one.

According to a blog by Unlimited’s Bruce McNevin, if the unemployment rate rises by about 1%, recession odds go up by 29%. If the non-farm payroll employment falls by about 2% or 3 million jobs, recession odds increase by about 74%. After a year or so of tightening, unemployment measures are finally beginning to pick up.

Policymakers, per recent remarks, maintain that more needs to be done, however. For instance, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Raphael Bostic, who generally carries an easier stance on monetary policy, mulled whether the Fed should raise interest rates beyond the 5.00-5.25% terminal rate consensus he previously endorsed. This commentary, coupled with newly released economic data, has sent yields surging at the front end. 

Graphic: Retrieved from TradingView.

Traders are wildly repricing their terminal rate expectations this week. The terminal rate over the past few days has gone up from 5.25-5.50% to 5.50-5.75%, and back down to 5.25-5.50%.

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


Stocks and bonds performed poorly. Commodity hedges are uninspiring also in that they do not hedge against (rising odds of) recession, per the Daily Brief for March 1

In navigating this precarious environment, this letter has put forward a few trade ideas including the sale of call options structures to finance put options structures, after the mid-February monthly options expiration (OpEx). Though measures suggest “we can [still] get cheap exposure to convexity while a lot of people are worried,” the location for similar (short call, long put) trades is not optimal. Rather, trades including building your own structured note, now catching the attention of some traders online, appear attractive now with T-bill rates surging.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Such trades reduce portfolio volatility and downside while providing upside exposure comparable to poorly performing traditional portfolio constructions like 60/40.

As an example, per IPS Strategic Capital’s Pat Hennessy, with $1,000,000 to invest and rates at ~5% (i.e., $50,000 is 5% of $1,000,000), one could buy 1000 USTs or S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) Box Spreads which will have a value of $1 million at maturity for the price of $950,000.

With $50,000 left in cash, one can use options for leveraged exposure to an asset of their choosing, Hennessy explained. Should these options expire worthless, the $50,000 gain from USTs, at maturity, provides “a full return of principal.”

For traders who are focused on short(er)-term movements, one could allocate the cash remaining toward structures that buy and sell call options over very short time horizons (e.g., 0 DTE).

Knowing that the absence of range expansion to the downside, positioning flows may build a platform for the market to rally, one could lean into structures like fixed-width call option butterflies.

For instance, yesterday, Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) call option butterflies expanded in value ~10 times (i.e., $5 → $50). An example 0 DTE trade is the BUTTERFLY NDX 100 (Weeklys) 2 MAR 23 12000/12100/12200 CALL. Such trade could have been bought near ~$5.00 in debit and, later, sold for much bigger credits (e.g., ~$40.00).

Such trade fits and plays on the narrative described in Physik Invest’s Daily Brief for February 24. That particular letter detailed Bank of America Corporation’s (NYSE: BAC) finding that “volume is uniquely skewed towards the ask early in the day but towards the bid later in the day” for these highly traded ultra-short-dated options.

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

Even options insight and data provider SqueezeMetrics agrees: “Buy 0 DTE call.” The typical “day doesn’t end above straddle b/e, but call makes money,” SqueezeMetrics explained. “Dealer and call-buyer both profit. Gap down, repeat.”

Anyways, back to the bigger trends impacted by liquidity coming off the table and increased competition between equities and fixed income.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Net Liquidity = Fed Balance Sheet – Treasury General Account – Reverse Repo.

As this letter put forth in the past, if the “market consolidates and doesn’t break,” as we see, the delta buy-back with respect to dropping implied volatility (IVOL) or vanna and buy-back with respect to the passage of time or charm could build a platform for a FOMO-driven call buying rally that ends in a blow-off. 

Graphic: Retrieved from Piper Sandler’s (NYSE: PIPR) Danny Kirsch. Short volatility and short stocks was attractive to trade. As your letter writer put in a recent SpotGamma note: “With IV at already low levels, the bullish impact of it falling further is weak, hence the SPX trending lower all the while IV measures (e.g., VIX term structure) have shifted markedly lower since last week. If IV was at a higher starting point, its falling would work to keep the market in a far more positive/bullish stance.”

Per data by SpotGamma, another options insight and data provider your letter writer used to write for and highly recommends checking out, call buying, particularly over short time horizons, was often tied to market rallies. 

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma via Bloomberg.

“0DTE does not seem to be associated with betting on a large downside movement. Large downside market volatility appears to be driven by larger, longer-dated S&P volume,” SpotGamma founder Brent Kochuba said in the Bloomberg article. “Where 0DTE is currently most impactful is where it seems 0DTE calls are being used to ‘buy the dips’ after large declines. In a way this suppresses volatility.”

Anyways, the signs of a “more combustible situation” would likely show when “volatility is sticky into a rally,” explained Kai Volatiity’s Cem Karsan. To gauge combustibility, look to the Daily Brief for February 17.


As of 6:50 AM ET, Friday’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 $3,988.25. 

Key levels to the upside include $3,999.25, $4,012.25, and $4,024.75.

Key levels to the downside include $3,975.25, $3,965.25, and $3,947.00.

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.


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

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

Vanna: The rate at which the Delta of an option changes with respect to implied volatility.

Charm: The rate at which the Delta of an option changes with respect to time.

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

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

Options Expiration (OPEX): Reduction in dealer Gamma exposure. Often, there is an increase in volatility after the removal of large options positions and associated hedging.

Options: Options offer an efficient way to gain directional exposure.

If an option buyer was short (long) stock, he or she could buy a call (put) to hedge upside (downside) exposure. Additionally, one can spread, or buy (+) and sell (-) options together, strategically.

Commonly discussed spreads include credit, debit, ratio, back, and calendar.

  • Credit: Sell -1 option closer to the money. Buy +1 option farther out of the money.
  • Debit: Buy +1 option closer to the money. Sell -1 option farther out of the money.
  • Ratio: Buy +1 option closer to the money. Sell -2 options farther out of the money. 
  • Back: Sell -1 option closer to the money. Buy +2 options farther out of the money.
  • Calendar: Sell -1 option. Buy +1 option farther out in time, at the same strike.

Typically, if bullish (bearish), sell at-the-money put (call) credit spread and/or buy a call (put) debit/ratio spread structured around the target price. Alternatively, if the expected directional move is great (small), opt for a back spread (calendar spread). Also, if credit spread, capture 50-75% of the premium collected. If debit spread, capture 2-300% of the premium paid.

Be cognizant of risk exposure to the direction (Delta), movement (Gamma), time (Theta), and volatility (Vega). 

  • Negative (positive) Delta = synthetic short (long).
  • Negative (positive) Gamma = movement hurts (helps).
  • Negative (positive) Theta = time decay hurts (helps).
  • Negative (positive) Vega = volatility hurts (helps).


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

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


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


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


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.


Daily Brief For May 25, 2022

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What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were steady alongside commodities and bonds. This is ahead of the release of minutes from a Federal Reserve (Fed) policy meeting. 

In the news were advertising and social media firms. Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP) warned of slower growth and deterioration in the macro-environment. Its peers Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL), and Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) also saw weakness.

China’s COVID Zero commitment likely nudges it off a path to achieve economic targets “by a large margin for the first time ever,” as Bloomberg explains

This is as China and Russia have conducted one of their largest joint air drills “to send their own political, economic and military message to the international community,” much of which is at Davos, Switzerland doing thought exercises.

In a recent podcast, Pippa Malmgren, who is a former White House adviser and economist, well said, particularly in reference to some of the tension abroad, that “autocracy is not working well,” and “[y]ou go to war because … you have a domestic objective.”

Thought it was interesting. Give it a listen, here.

And, finally, Michael Burry of the “Big Short” sent a cryptic tweet alluding to what is likely the risk of another financial collapse. 

Moreover, ahead is data on durable goods and core capital equipment orders (8:30 AM ET). Later, the Fed publishes the minutes of its last policy meeting (2:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:10 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: The Fed will issue policy meeting minutes that may provide clarity with respect to its intent to hike and reduce the size of its balance sheet.

In focus, per ex-Fed insider Ellen Meade, is “the rate path, the expected economic conditions, and what policymakers want to see from the data before they slow the pace of tightening.”

“The minutes may tell us they see the tightening in conditions this time around as greater than in earlier cycles. If that’s the case, then they may judge that they don’t need to raise the funds rate by as much this time around.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) research.

John Authers notes, however, that “inflation tends to move in waves” and it doesn’t, usually, “plateau and stay there.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“That suggests that even though the focus is already shifting to whether there is evidence of a growth slowdown,” he added, in a statement echoed by Meade who is betting on slower “GDP growth, below its longer-run rate, and a rise in the unemployment rate, perhaps to its longer-run median rate or slightly above.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Pursuant to those last remarks, the Fed’s Raphael Bostic is already floating a pause to rate hikes near September if inflation falls more than expected over the summer.

As Diane Swonk of Grant Thorton explains, “Policy works with a lag. The Fed wants to catch up but not outrun the market in its effort to tighten credit market conditions.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Futures First analyst Rishi Mishra, who is also the author of the “On Another Note” newsletter, suggests the Federal Open Market Committee may, rather, hone in on monthly changes with annual inflation still elevated.

“This brings down inflation expectations into a range where the Fed feels comfortable about de-anchoring risks,” Mishra said.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from Bloomberg. Though, potentially, “premature,” JPM’s model tracking the S&P 500, credit spreads and yield curve implies a 40% chance of a recession.

JPM’s Marko Kolanovic adds: “We have gone from a situation where both stocks and bonds were sold on the back of de-leveraging, to a situation where bonds rallied as stocks fell, nudging stock/bond correlations toward a more normal (negative) level.”

“We do indeed think this is where things could be gradually heading, but we acknowledge this is not likely to play out in a linear way.”

Graphic: Via @MrBlonde_macro. “Stock/bond correlation negative over the last 10 days. Some ‘normalization’ in cross-market relationships can be a source of relief.” The flip happened with 10-year yields at or above 3%.

Positioning: In yesterday’s in-depth write-up, we talked about the underperformance of implied volatility (IVOL), relative to that which is realized (RVOL).

Dennis Davitt of Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth had explained that the “RVOL of the underlying S&P 500 is above 27% … with IVOL of options trading between 24%-27%,” which translates to a VIX at 30%.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear.

So, essentially, it makes more sense to have exposure to underlying markets, synthetically (i.e., own options). 

This, though, merits a bit more clarification (as I do not want it to be construed as if I was buying, systemically, bets on the downside). The opposite, actually.

Moreover, this was stated in the context of a market that is “(1) stretched and (2) near a critical inflection which we see at $3,700.00 SPX,” per SpotGamma. Separately, investors are bidding “skew on the call side” amid their “fear of missing on the upside.”

That’s when it makes sense to buy closer to at-the-money (ATM) and sell farther from ATM, or out-of-the-money (OTM). For instance, a margin intensive but low cost call +1 [ATM] x -2 [OTM] ratio spread

Note, however, that width and timing are everything. Too much time or too narrow may result in asymmetric losses when the demand for upside bets further out in price and time bids the skew that you’re short, relative to the at-the-money volatility you own. 

I’m willing to talk through this via email, if interested. Ping me at I’m mindful that if I do post actual trade ideas, people may take them without knowing how to size and manage them, accordingly. Big yikes!

Goldman validates this thesis: “Even though the VIX’s reaction to recent spot downside has been mild, its 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.”

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.

Further, though SpotGamma assigns an edge to lower prices until the June FOMC and OPEX, “markets (which are already ‘fully loaded’ with puts) [are likely] pressured by liquidity providers’ hedging [at most] down to $3,700.00,” the area where that added pressure from hedging cools.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

Technical: As of 6:15 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 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; activity above the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,969.00 ONH. Initiative trade beyond the ONH 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 $3,917.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $3,863.25 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.


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 value tests as they offer favorable entry and exit.


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.


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.