Daily Brief | March 10, 2023
Daily commentary for U.S. broad market indices.
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Yesterday’s newsletter put forth the writer’s discussion with Simplify’s Mike Green, fresh after he spoke at Exchange Miami. The letter covered a lot, albeit in a messy way, given some unforeseen obligations. Today, we clarify those narratives for you. Hopefully, you enjoy it, and take care!
In summary, Simplify’s Michael Green trades 60/40-looking portfolios on macroeconomic signals while using derivative exposures to reduce volatility and amplify profit potential (e.g., responding to economic data in real-time by trading options on the CME Group Inc’s [NASDAQ: CME] Eurodollar [FUTURE: /GE], a tool to express views on future interest rates).
His conversation with your letter writer covered a variety of topics including the reliability of data and what that means for his active management, derivatives trading, strength potential in markets, as well as what he’s optimistic about. Here’s what you need to know.
1 - Green explains that his preferred macro guides for decision-making are unclear. He explains that traditional adjustments “ranging from seasonality to the birth-death models used in smoothing employment reports” are in question, and he jokes that developed market data sets are approaching emerging market data sets in terms of quality.
2 - Green reflects on 2022 noting options, colloquially referred to as volatility, were a big underperformer. “One-year variance swaps or implied volatility on an at-the-money S&P 500 put option would trade somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30%,” he explains. “That implies a level of daily price movement that is difficult to achieve.”
Having learned their lesson, in 2023 investors swapped long-dated volatility exposures for ones with bounded risk (e.g., Bear Put Spread) and less time to expiry (e.g., 0 DTE).
Though both may leave counterparties with less risk, if news shocks the market far one way, market movements may become exaggerated when investors, and counterparties accordingly, scramble to adjust their risk.
Major Wall Street players and clearing houses have, too, just announced an investigation into the risks such activity poses as well.
Up until now, however, the activity has manifested a push-and-pull, mean-reverting-type action; investors lean short volatility in the morning and long volatility in the afternoon which, combined, tends to mute price action.
Say one morning an “investor sells call options and a dealer receives them,” Green puts forth as an example. “The dealer will hedge their long call position by selling futures which will pressure the market and result in the options prices collapsing in value.”
To re-hedge falling options prices, “dealers have to buy back their futures exposure and this pushes the markets upward. This is the pattern that’s been playing out over and over again. It’s weakness in the morning followed by strength in the afternoon.”
Though this is a very smart exposure to have, Green says volatility that’s longer-dated is cheap and, when an eventual shock occurs, its payout may more than justify its cost, particularly as the outlook for equities, bonds, and commodities further blurs.
3 - Despite still-robust appearing economic data, Green sees clear signs the economy is starting to deteriorate.
“We’re seeing cracks in bubbles like commercial real estate” and risk assets including crypto, presently maintained by a lack of inventory or supply that’s tied up in the bankruptcy proceedings of FTX (CRYPT0: FTT) and Voyager Digital Ltd (ex-OTC: VYGVF), of all things.
“The question is whether higher interest rates ultimately drive a fraction of the market into distress with forced transactions,” Green wonders, pointing to the likes of Blackstone Inc (NYSE: BX) and Brookfield Corp (NYSE: BN) handing in keys to properties. “It takes one person being in distress to set a new clearing price which, in turn, changes valuations for everybody, and makes it more difficult to qualify for things like mortgages.”
4 - Looking forward, over the short-term at least, Green says inflation is likely to trend higher for longer, particularly with monetary policy inspiring fiscal action and sparking off geopolitics.
“The world’s growing materially slower and manufacturing capacity, which is spreading around the world, requires labor and investment, which could be inflationary in the short-run,” Green puts forth. Traditionally, “lower rates and costs enable added capacity and a predictable rebound in consumption. However, we’re driving a stake through the vampire’s heart, now, and … there’s the multiplier effect driving fiscal policy, too.”
5 - In response to uncertainty, investors can park cash in Treasury bonds, as well as allocate some capital to volatility “to introduce a degree of convexity,” risking only the premium paid. Alternatively, investors can take a more optimistic long view and position in innovations like artificial intelligence or next-generation energy production.
“I’m optimistic about human innovation and the rise of AI, … as well as higher energy prices creating the impetus for tremendous innovations in energy generation that have the potential to lift us out of this period of perceived scarcity if we allow ourselves to embrace it.”
As of 8:00 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 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 $3,947.00.
Key levels to the upside include $3,965.25, $3,979.25, and $4,004.75.
Key levels to the downside include $3,921.75, $3,891.00, and $3,857.25.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.