A Sheep’s View of Fiscal Stimulus Effects

December 31st, 2017|Economy|

I (re)heard a good trading quote the other day… “Ever wonder why fund managers can't beat the S&P 500? 'Cause they're sheep -- and the sheep get slaughtered.”  The line is by Gordon Gekko, from the movie Wall Street.  I didn’t realize when I first saw the movie decades ago that sheep are followers.  I just thought Gekko was saying other fund managers were meek.  And now you know why I was not a literature major (or a farmer).  In any event, it’s perfectly fine to be a sheep – you just need to know when to get out.  It [...]

Many Traders have Never Seen…

December 24th, 2017|Economy, Featured|

Have you ever heard that phrase “Many traders have never seen___”?  For example: Many traders have never seen a real vol spike. You’ve probably heard ad nauseum about how short vol (VIX) sellers will get crushed one day. Many traders have never seen a real equity correction. For almost eight years, buying on dips has been a good strategy. Many traders have never seen buying fixed income against the bond (or tens) yield downtrend line in the US not work. There are many old traders who’ve made a career on having the 30+ year downtrend line in the bonds hold. [...]

Straddle Selling

December 17th, 2017|Positioning|

Almost two months ago, I was watching some large players sell the EDZ7 98.50 straddle for about 6-7.  At the time, libor-FF was very stable, but it was not a “sure thing” that the Fed was going to hike in Dec (maybe around 80% priced).  I didn’t have a strong view on the level of the straddle.  It seemed like it was very fractionally positive EV at the time.  But I prefer finding “zero cost” ways of owning the tails, rather than being short volatility in this environment. Well, lo and behold, we got a funding “event” and that EDZ7 [...]

Bungee Cord Drivers: Retirement and Inflation Part 1

December 17th, 2017|Economy|

I’ve talked a lot about the bungee cord in the past few months, that is holding the US longer end from taking off.  But the bungee is more than just the ECB and BOJ QE.  Implicit in the QE policies (aside from manipulating the FX in those economies’ favor, eh hem) are the inflation and demographic structural forces that cause the QE to be implemented in the first place.  So to figure out when the bungee cord will break could amount to getting a better idea of when we could see some signs of inflation or a change in the [...]

Three Fresh Prespectives on the FOMC

December 10th, 2017|FOMC|

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise their policy interest rate 25 basis points this week.  The Fed will also increase the pace of its balance sheet reinvestment tapering, by increasing the unreinvested amount from $10 billion to $20 billion.  We also get a new set of dot plots, which could show a change of direction in Fed policy, but will most likely remain the same.  Despite all the potential activity that is going on, most analysts would consider this a relatively “ho-hum” meeting.  The markets agree, based on the declining interest rate volatility.  Amid this complacency, I thought [...]

Too Much Energy in the Bungee Cord

December 3rd, 2017|Economy|

The “common sense” narrative is that the economic data has been good and we just got tax reform.  A $1.5trillion deficit means that much more debt that needs to be issued and a boost to the economy.  3.0% tens, here we go!  I mean the Fed’s long run FF projection is 2.75%, and most of them don’t assume any kind of substantial fiscal stimulus.  Add some increased term premium on the curve and we could be off to the races.  This would make complete sense if the US was not so linked to the policies of other major economies.  But [...]

Algo Shenanigans

November 26th, 2017|Basics|

[WARNING: Idle Speculation Ahead] Last week, I mentioned what I suspected was potential spoofing in the ED markets.  Of course this was just a feeling.  I don’t have the tools to record and monitor the bid-offer quantity data.  However, I did run across this article in ZeroHedge, on how a trader was fined for trying to manipulate the algos.  The gist was that someone put in large buy orders, trying to get trend-following algos to come along (and maybe even raise the bid).  He would then proceed to cancel his orders and sell to the algos.  He was punished, but [...]

Curve Flattening is Not Signaling a Recession

November 19th, 2017|Positioning|

I’ve been saying for weeks now why the curve was probably going to flatten.  I discussed how the other central bank policies could act like a bungee cord, holding the longer end US rates down.  Last week, we got Draghi comments that inflation can not be self-sustaining without stimulus.  And we got lower-than-expected Japanese GDP.  So despite the stronger US data, the longer end rallied for the week, partly because the bungee cord shows no signs of fraying. As analysts come on TV to discuss the flattening of the yield curve, the interpretation I think is incorrect in the current [...]

Current Events

November 12th, 2017|Economy|

It was a quiet data week, but we had a very interesting news week, that had some interesting implications for the curve.  It seemed for most of the year that everyone was expecting oil to go back down.  That has not materialized.  Higher oil prices are generally inflationary (even for core inflation).  Depending on whether the Fed is seen as being vigilant or patient, the front or back of the curve could lead a selloff.  It is unclear how much escalation we could see in the Middle East and how long this could last.  You would think that oil could [...]

Fed Pricing 171105

November 5th, 2017|FOMC|

There seems to be two large flows going on right now in the front of the curve.  I had previously mentioned our EDZ8-Z9 friend, who appears to be on the wrong side of EDZ8-Z0 flattening.   But the other development showing up on the radar is a large short in EDM8.  In the past two weeks, EDM8 OI has increased 56K, while the rest of the whites decreased 205K.  From the curve move, we can see that EDM8 position was a short.  The EDZ7-M8-Z8 fly increased 4.5bps in the past week.  That is a little strange when the Fed has signaled [...]