Tag Archives: Equities

Selling Equity Options or VIX® Futures: Two Different Ways to Short Volatility

2017 was a great year for shorting VIX futures strategies. The S&P 500® VIX Short-Term Futures Inverse Daily Index returned 186.39%. Selling volatility does not rely on interest rates or dividends. Historically, investors have been selling options to generate income. Compared to selling equity options, selling VIX futures is an operationally simple strategy that can Read more […]

2017…Among the Sleepiest of Years

If 2016 was unremarkable, 2017 was downright sleepy…at least as far as equity markets were concerned. In 2017, the S&P 500 notched the lowest level of volatility in 27 years. Both dispersion and correlations were among the lowest levels in the same period. This is in spite of a year that was far from lacking Read more […]

Rising Rates Arrive

Which of the figures below belong together?   It’s obvious, even if analogies aren’t your strong suit, that A is like C and B is like D.  A and C are not like B and D. The economic relevance of this simple visual exercise is this: At its March 2017 meeting, the Federal Open Market Read more […]

Valuations Are High but Dispersion Is Low

“Stocks Have Froth but No Bubble,” in today’s Wall Street Journal argues that while stocks are sitting at the highest valuations seen in many years, the market is not in a bubble.  Despite similarities to early 2000 by some measures, other distinguishing features of trading bubbles (such as high trading volume and high leverage) are Read more […]

Try a TIPS Mixer in Your Equities Cocktail

As product manager of the S&P STRIDE Indices, I sometimes find myself extolling the virtues of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), which I believe are an underappreciated asset class.  When inflation is relatively tame, people often ask why they should think about TIPS.  The answer is that TIPS don’t hedge expected inflation—that’s already priced in.  TIPS Read more […]

Minimizing the Pain of Regret

There are many extraordinarily talented minds engineering optimal portfolios, objectives of which include maximizing return per unit of risk, among others.  The capital asset pricing model (CAPM) posited the market portfolio as optimal in the mean/variance sense, but over the years, this notion has been questioned.  CAPM, like the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH), will likely Read more […]

Remarkably Unremarkable

In geopolitical terms 2016 was a tumultuous year. From the outcome of the Brexit referendum to the surprising conclusion of the U.S. presidential election, 2016 was a year of political surprises. The markets, braced or not, reacted differently in each case. We saw heightened correlation in the aftermath of Brexit and observed higher dispersion immediately Read more […]

Rising Rates and Inflation: Implications for Equities

Even a cursory glance at financial markets indicates that market participants are expecting some form of interest rate increase in the near future—there has been a sell-off in the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Bond market, and certain sectors that are expected to benefit from such a rate increase have gained.  For instance, the S&P 500 Financials Read more […]

Quiet Before the Storm

Quiet Before the Storm? Global markets seemingly remain unperturbed—despite homing in on Election Day in the U.S.  Although dispersion ticked up globally from September month-end levels, it is still sitting at below average levels as of October 31 in the U.S. Similarly, correlation is also well below average. Together these coordinates are pointing to particularly Read more […]

Dividend Volatility and Correlations

Equity markets are notoriously volatile, at least when compared to fixed income. Dividend payments, by contrast, while not fixed like many bond coupons, offer  market participants a much less volatile and more fixed income-like risk and return profile.  For the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, the annual variation in S&P 500® dividend points has Read more […]