Sep 4 – Trade Plan

I had to take a break from posting. Those two weeks were probably the worst two weeks I’ve ever experienced. Managing the trades in this transitionary environment (extreme low volatility to extreme high volatility) has taken me to task and almost made me quit. We did terribly these past few weeks. Our MICs were utterly destroyed in the Monday correction and further the adjustments made (a mistake in hindsight) as the market moved 5% consistently over night in each direction several times.

We’ve got a few things hanging over the market right now and that is the fact that Chinese markets are open 2 full days before the US markets re labour day and the likely Fed rate hike on Sept 17th. Those two things are keeping options pricing very expensive. Being a market neutral theta decay based trader having originally been paid shit in a low volatility environment has been the biggest challenge. We’re experiencing 3-5% moves overnight and we’re getting no time decay. You literally cannot get a worse time for these trades and I have regrets in the management of the trades during the period. Though, I do realize most of these regrets are regrets in hindsight. I couldn’t have known the market would go green nor could I have let things ride the way we were positioned. All in all what an epic learning experience. I have weeks of data and thoughts to go over. I need to take this experience and learn everything I can from it.

As market neutral traders, we try to manage risk by making adjustments, but if we are constantly adjusting in each direction, we get killed. This means that we usually have to change the way we make adjustments (less frequently) but that exposes us to gamma risk if the market runs in one specific direction. My plan is to sideline the majority of my risk until after the 17th and wait for the market to calm down a bit then enter good solid trades and start the recovery process. As well, if we get a crash, I WILL enter some trades to take advantage of that (with great risk reward). This gives us the best odds for a smooth recovery. A few good months should get us back to where we were.

I tried to do the best I could at the time but I would do things differently. I opted to adjust pretty much when it was too late. I should have exited the MIC trades and took the loss. Instead, I adjusted and those adjustments cost me more than my planned loss as the market whip-sawed up and down in very large amounts. Each one taking more and more $. Taking a max loss isn’t just taking it for the sake of not having more, but the fact that you are at a max loss also means that the market is doing things it doesn’t usually do –> it’s not behaving rational or within normal parameters. That in and of itself is the main reason to just exit and wait. Given the conditions and what I saw in option pricing and market behaviours and how each strategy reacted (PUTS didn’t even have an ASK price during the morning!!) I learned so much and have so much to study about what happened, that it’ll make me a much better trader. I’ve now got an extreme melt up and an extreme melt down under my belt 🙂

So yeah, the transitionary period is the absolute worst thing we could have experienced (going from extreme low volatility to extreme high volatility) because we simply never got paid for the risk before the high volatility period. It’s no problem once we’re in high volatility and we get paid appropriately. However, that said, any EXTREME volatility market that was preceded by some sort of black swan (Yuan devaluation) will always be somewhat catastrophic for these types of trades. The event that we experienced is a 1 in 7 to 10 year event. We are still in an extreme volatility period while we navigate the devaluation issues and the potential fed rate hike on Sept 17th. This exposes our trades and I’ve reduced risk going into the weekend though not completely.

I felt so often to just quit but I’ve realized that I just went through a crash period that will be so invaluable to my experience in the future that I have to buck up and approach this as an opportunity to learn from direct experience in something that is such a risk but are experienced quite rarely and sometimes only once in someones options trading career.

Oh by the way, something super cool –> The protector alpha did not actually lose any capital throughout the crash or days following. We entered it at around SPY 205-206 and it was insured for that level. SPY went up to 213 and of course we had profits wiped out but we never lost capital. Now that is insane. We are at SPY 192 and we’re break-even. The market corrected 10% and our basket of equities were in fact 100% hedged. We participate in upside but not downside. Had we rolled our insurance, we’d actually be profitable.

2 thoughts on “Sep 4 – Trade Plan”

  1. Hi

    Sorry about your heavy losses. I guess this is the risk linked to MIC. Did you have the little long PUT in place for all your MIC positions? If so did it help lowering the losses?

    Could you please give some more details about this “protector alpha”? are you using the service of some website for that or is it a n own designed system?



    1. Not enough. In retrospect, I wish I had done things differently with the MIC. With proper risk management on Friday, I’d have a different result. I had been pushing my delta limits and thought the day felt like capitulation as most of the indicators that point to that went off. I felt the risk going into Monday was low and I had plans to adjust on Monday. Second, the moves in the last 5 minutes of the day were ridiculous, well not as ridiculous as the overnight moves but yeah, it was difficult to manage. Then of course, big news came out of China on the weekend and the opening gap was unprotectable and I was already pushing max delta. The other big reason I didn’t do much on Friday was the insane prices for option protection, it was so high and unreasonable. But in hindsight, I could have bought more puts on Friday at something like 1750 for $1.

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