Saturday, January 13, 2018

Goldman Sachs Expressed Concerns About the Growth of Volatility Exchange Traded Products

We have written about how the increase in popularity of VIX-related Exchange Traded Products could impact the financial market:

Is Volatility of Volatility Increasing?

What Caused the Increase in Volatility of Volatility?

Recently, Goldman Sachs derivatives analyst Rocky Fishman expressed concerns regarding the impact of VIX ETPs positions on the markets.

Fishman wrote to clients early Thursday morning that he has no concerns about the net number of shorts but is concerned about the impact a sudden rise in the VIX futures would have on derivative products. He notes that over the past few weeks net positioning in VIX ETPs has gone short for only the second time in their eight year history. The analyst believes “the potential for short and levered ETPs to start buying VIX futures quickly on a sudden vol spike has grown” which in turn makes short-date VIX-based hedges timely.

Therefore, his biggest concern is a one-day, end-of-day vol spike should the SPX selloff near the end of the trading day which would push issuers to replace positions quickly to avoid being exposed to unhedged overnight risk or excessive tracking error. Fishman also notes that Asset Managers and Institutions appear most at risk as they have recently started reporting short VIX futures positions.

Perhaps we should just hope that there won’t be a negative market headline in the final minutes of any trading day anytime soon but should any of our readers wish to know the derivatives analyst would prepare for something jarring in the short term, Fishman suggests that client buy February 18-strike VIX call versus selling April 18-strike VIX calls with an intention to close the trade before the February 14 expiry. Read more

At the same time, Bloomberg also reported that the 50-cent VIX player started buying short-dated options

This entailed buying back 262,500 January VIX puts with a strike price of 12, selling 262,500 15 calls, and buying back 525,000 25 calls in order to close out the existing position. Then, the new position was established by selling 262,500 12 February puts, buying 262,500 15 calls, and selling 525,000 25 calls.

While the ‘Elephant’ originally traded three-month options, rolling after two months, they appear to have switched to a one-month cycle

More generally, the ‘Elephant’ trades reflect a trend towards low premium outlay hedges with minimal convexity,” the strategist concludes. “Clients we talk to have been more interested in VIX call flies or S&P put flies that carry well and have a fairly low initial cost, but may not mark up as much as an outright option in a risk-off scenario. Read more

You can invest in volatility ETPs, but be prudent and hedge the risks accordingly.


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