The Risk of Rising Volatility

As a trader and portfolio manager I spend a lot of my time evaluating risk. The need to manage risk within a position and an overall portfolio is a key tenet in having long-term success in investing. One the methods I use to evaluate risk is by applying varies methods of analysis to volatility, which includes the VIX Index. Using a compilation of data inputs, below is a rough chart showing prior instances that match the current market environment as it pertains to the VIX.

When the data has been at these levels in the past, the Volatility Index has seen some fairly substantial advances, however, sometimes the move (like at the end of December ’16) are minor – but often we do indeed see a rise in volatility. As the chart below shows, sometimes it takes a week or several for the VIX to move higher but past occurrences haven’t seen the VIX decline much further from that point forward.

While I’m happy to see new highs in several of the major indices, I think the risk/reward right now, at least when it comes to the Volatility Index, has risen substantially.

Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see my Disclosure page for full disclaimer. Connect with Andrew on Google+, Twitter, and StockTwits.

Using The Metal Markets to Forecast The Direction of Interest Rates

In a recent podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, Adam Robinson mentioned an interesting observation about interest rates. Adam is the co-founder of The Princeton Review, a chess master and  an advisor to several hedge funds and investment managers.

Adam mentioned that one of the tools he uses to evaluate the fixed income market is the relationship between copper and gold. With a very high correlation to the 10-year Treasury yield, when the ratio between these two metals is rising, often are interest rates. The chart below shows the current 90-day correl is 0.98.

Knowing that the ratio between copper and gold is highly correlated to interest rates, we can apply a degree of analysis to gold and copper and make a forecast for where the ratio may be headed and thus, the direction interest rates may be moving.

One method we can use is looking at the Commitment of Traders data. Below is the COT report for gold. In the bottom panel we can see the three category breakdown of each trader group. The Commercial trader (often considered the ‘smart money’ has been working off their large net-short position in gold, which hit its largest point in June when gold put in a short-term high. Since then, Commercial traders have been moving their net-position to near neutral, a positive sign for gold bulls.

Turning our focus to copper, the COT report shows us that the Commercial traders have been betting against copper, holding one of their largest net-short positions.

So from these two data sets we know that Commercial traders appear to be becoming more bullish on gold and are bearish on copper. That would imply that the ratio of copper vs. gold could be heading lower, and in turn interest rates declining as well.

This is all good but how are traders position in the actual bond market? we can look at COT data to evaluate the fixed income market. Below is the COT report for the 10-year Treasury Bond. We can see that Commercial traders have been adding to their net-long position in the 10-yr bond, putting their position at one of the most bullish levels in quite a while.

In summary, as Adam pointed out, copper and gold have a high correlation to interest rates, and based on the COT data it appears we could be seeing a shift lower in the ratio between these to metals, a bearish move for Treasury yield. Based on the COT chart for bonds themselves, it appears the ‘smart money’ is using both hands to buy up this dip in bond prices.

Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see my Disclosure page for full disclaimer. Connect with Andrew on Google+, Twitter, and StockTwits.

What Momentum of A Unique Relationship Says About The Volatility Index

One of the great things about being a technician is the ability to constantly explore new charts and looking at markets from all angles. The Volatility Index (VIX) has gotten a lot of attention lately as it gets to historically low levels. Charlie Bilello, CMT pointed out that the VIX earlier this month was down 48% in the prior 5 weeks, marking the 2nd largest five-week decline in history. Today I want to look at, what I believe to be, a unique ratio chart – the S&P 500 and the VVIX (Volatility of the VIX).

What this ratio does is compare the relative performance of the S&P 500 equity market to the Volatility of the Volatility Index. What I’m most interested in is how momentum of this ratio acts and the timing of moves for the VIX itself. . And that’s exactly what I’m looking for in this ratio chart below. When the two-week Relative Strength Index (RSI) for the S&P 500-VVIX ratio as show in the bottom panel moves above 70 (becoming ‘overbought’) and then declines as the VIX itself is declining, has marked some interesting turning points for the Volatility Index and has often marked the eventual low (or close to it) for the VIX.

This is a setup that’s taking place right now as the VIX drops under 12. It’s possible we see the VIX go higher from here, but over what time frame we do not know. As of the time of this writing the VIX is up pre-market, we’ll see if that continues as we finish out the year.

spx-vvix

Merry Christmas.

Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see my Disclosure page for full disclaimer. Connect with Andrew on Google+, Twitter, and StockTwits.