Aug 21 Trade update

Man, I really wish I would post more. I get so damn behind in traveling and this just gets totally forgotten about. I am really really sick of traveling and I think I’ll probably stop most of the longer trips as the net benefits and excitement are now becoming benign. I haven’t really been home since April. It’s too much.

Here’s my gut take on the version of STT+BSH trade I do, which is tailored in methodology to my preference (higher UEL etc). Since Feb 4, 2018, the volatility regime has changed significantly. There was a loss of several large market components ie the collapse of several inverse volatility ETFs, which were a component of the market structure. They arguably amplified (and dampened) certain reactions in the pricing of options and, more importantly, out of the money (OTM) options pricing. It had a large imposing effect on how volatility works and how option pricing reacted to market moves.  Volatility indexes such as the VIX is measured by the fear reaction in options pricing. Options have varying strikes, and the reaction happens differently depending on just how far out the option strike is and the positioning of the strike in general. Picture each strike price as a bar where some of that bar is coloured grey, now pretend that grey price is the fear portion of price. Each strike’s grey bar may react with different magnitude during a market move. This is known as skew.  A strike at the money may have a different % reaction in fear than one 5% out, and so on. Skew is not predictable in any actionable sense. 

How this relates to OTM trades and corresponding BSHs?  We purchase way out of the money insurance by way of a black swan hedge, and when we have a black swan or major down move, this has been our protection. However, since the volatility regime change, these OTM options have not activated as much as they have in the past. The % moves in SPX are not corresponding to the increase in pricing in way OTM options and Vix is not spiking the same relative to the % move in SPX. Another theory I have is that previous to 2018, there was no real open interest in these way OTM strikes, it is in fact our presence in the market that’s perhaps causing an additional opposing effect on the activation of these insurance structures.  Having open interest as large as the PMTT group would or could cause a levelling effect to volatility responses just as the inverse VIX indexes provided an over-reaction. Who knows but I think I might adjust some things.

Since Feb 2018, we’ve had several large market declines since then including the Oct and Dec declines which saw several moves within the time period where VIX should have spiked to >30, but it only spiked to 20. This was confirmed again in May of 2019 and this month (Aug 2019). The market has changed. The over reactions in vol are now more efficient and muted. This is probably overall neutral. This means that the income trade portions don’t lose as much, but also the black swan counter part does not activate as much. The problem is just how much MDD you’re comfortable with. With the OTM income trades that are initiated in very low vol (12-14) and the market transitions to higher vol. Our income trades are so negative vega (volatility) that we will have a roughly 7%-10% draw down on our income structures. Basically like all VEGA/Skew change losses. Typically bear moves have a spike, and BSHs activate and we can roll both the BSH and the income trades at minimal cost. In the new regime, it appears it’s not guaranteed. This has made me change my methodology going forward as my theory is a lower overall draw down provides for much better compounding effects and overall higher return. As well, going from low vol to higher vol can have margin expansion and prevent having capital to enter the juicier opportunities.  In the most recent event, you could get close to profit target on an STT in 6 days whereas it usually takes 75 days. That’s 69 days less risk!

I’ll probably be only entering STT+BSH income trades on a large fear spike found when the market is in a forced liquidation period and when the VIX is >21.  These happen a 2-3 times a year on average, but the tests indicate that it’ll do 15- 20% on capital per trade with incredibly less risk, much less draw down potential, and minimal time in the market. Our income trade exposure goes from 365 days in market to 65-75 days. 

In the August event that just happened, I am now slightly profitable BUT I did have some temporary draw downs that reached 7% due to vol and the BSH did not activate. I saw things in the models during that event that I did not like given I initiated these in lower vol environments and the transition hurt. The issue was specifically, the night when we had touched 2790 after hours. If it had opened at 2790 and slowly went down, the draw downs (IF the BSH did not activate) would have been larger though potentially temporary as we’d roll and eventually likely recover. But we’d miss the best opportunities, and it causes fatigue as it requires a lot of work to manage. Entering in a high vol regime negates tons of % of that risk. 

Since Aug 1 to now, I am up a few % and that’s pretty damn cool. My structures a bit more matured and resilient as time passed by. I will massage these and my theta per day is currently 11k but I’ve adjusted from positive delta to more negative to lock in small profits and to minimise risks. I’ll massage this into Sep and only enter new ones in big fear spikes. I am expecting to end September at 35% for the year to date on capital.

I’ll be doing BSH factories in income and hedge format, opportunistic STT and LTI stuff as a base (12% return per year with 6.5% max draw down). Done and done.

2 thoughts on “Aug 21 Trade update”

  1. Hi Patrick,

    On those high vol entries that modeled 15%-20% ROC, what is the avg. DIT that your backtesting showing? Thanks

    1. It varies and you’d probably ladder your profit taking but 30-35 days for 12-15 and you could massage it up to 20. Many times you could get 50-75 in days after an event.

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