My Leitner-esque Moment

By Kevin Muir

They’re back. I thought they had all given up, but like an old college buddy who’s going through a bad divorce and just needs a place to crash for a ‘few days,’ the corporate credit skeptics are a tough lot to shake.

This crew is a left-over remnant of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis. After watching the global financial system implode in a crisis that threatened to topple the entire world economy, there is a group of market participants who believe the next dislocation is right around the corner – only this time will be even worse given the increased debt levels. Although their views can be nuanced, usually they believe the market stresses from the last crisis will simply replay in a more dramatic fashion. In 2008 stocks fell, credit spreads exploded higher, VIX shot to the moon and sovereign long-dated bonds were the best asset to own by a long shot. Therefore at the hint of any trouble, they skedaddle to put on whichever part of this trade is most in fashion.

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The Return of Volatility, Part 2

By Callum Thomas

A few weeks ago I wrote an article called “The Return of Volatility” in the midst of the February stock market correction. I highlighted the prospects of a change in market regime from one of ultra low volatility to a period of higher volatility.  My view remains that we will likely see a sustained period of higher volatility for stocks, but due to a number of positive dynamics it may well be more similar to the late 1990’s than the pre-financial crisis period.  In other words, rising volatility with rising stocks.

Now that’s just looking at one asset class – stocks, or specifically the S&P500.  But what about other asset classes?  Curiously, this period of ultra low volatility for equities has been mirrored across the major asset classes. The second chart in this report shows how realized volatility for the US dollar (the DXY), Commodities (GSCI Commodities Index), and the US 10-Year Government Bond Yield has dropped to very low levels. In fact there seems to have been a synchronization in volatility across asset classes.

But as I outlined in the presentation “Monetary Policy and Asset Allocation” as the global economic cycle matures, the tides are turning for global monetary policy.  This is going to be a key driver of higher volatility across asset classes in the months and years to come.  Monetary policy (traditional and extraordinary policy tools) was a force for volatility suppression over the past 10 years, and now that is changing.

The key points on the transition to a higher volatility regime are:

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Mirage? Inflation Still MIA as Number of Options Betting on Rise in Short Volatility ETF Surges

By Anthony B. Sanders

Like a mirage in the desert sand, inflation is still missing in action (MIA).

Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) growth YoY remains at 1.5% for January. The PCE deflator YoY remained the same at 1.7%.


But the number of options betting on a rise in short-volatility ETF is surging.


Yes, inflation is still a mirage (at least to The Fed). That should put a lid on further rate hike/unwinding activity. Or not!


Volatility and Interest Rates

By Tom McClellan

VIX Index versus 3-month T-Bill yield
February 23, 2018

Why is the VIX spiking now?  Because now is when it is supposed to do that.

Volatility and interest rates have an interesting relationship, going back many years.  Higher interest rates pull money away from the stock market, and thus make it so that prices have to travel farther to find liquidity, after a positive or negative stimulus.

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