Guest post by Vix and more.
Investors who have been trading the VIX futures, VIX options and VIX exchange-traded products in 2012 have no doubt observed that there has been a wide gulf between the volatility predicted by the VIX front month futures and the back month futures. How wide? Well the graphic below shows the average (mean) normalized term structure for each year since the VIX futures were launched, back in 2004. In normalizing the data, I have set the average front month VIX futures contract to 100 and have expressed the averages of the second through seven months as multiples of the front month.
[Note that while the VIX futures were launched in 2004, consecutive VIX futures contracts for the first six months were not available until October 2006, hence the dotted lines for these years to reflect the erratic nature of the data. Also, I have included the seventh month contract in the calculations because this month is critical to the calculations of a number of VIX ETPs, including VXZ, VIXM, ZIV, etc.]
Some of Europe’s biggest fund managers have confirmed they are dumping euro assets amid rising fears over a possible Greek exit from the eurozone and single currency turmoil. The euro’s sudden fallthis month caught many investors by surprise. Europe’s single currency has lost 5 per cent in the past three weeks after barely moving against the US dollar for much of the year. On Thursday, the euro hit a fresh 22-month low at $1.2514. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/92f5c37a-a5a1-11e1-a77b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1vr0JKlSp
Europe’s political leaders need to make a “brave leap” towards greater fiscal union to address the eurozone’s deepening debt crisis, the head of the European Central Bank urged on Thursday. Mario Draghi said his institution may have bought the eurozone time through its massive injection of cash into Europe’s banking system and sovereign bond markets but now it needed to embrace much closer integration. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/281e032c-a5b6-11e1-b77a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1vr0JKlSp
Wholesale brokerages including Knight Capital and Citadel suffered trading losses that could top $100m as a result of computer glitches in Nasdaq OMX’s software on the morning of Facebook’s trading debut last Friday. Problems with the exchange’s trading software meant the brokers were unable to calculate their precise shareholdings in the social network through more than two hours of share trading, people close to the firms said. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/68cc8164-a5c5-11e1-a3b4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1vr0JKlSp
All news below.
Imagine the world economy as an armada of ships passing through a narrow and dangerous strait leading to the sea of prosperity. Navigating the channel is treacherous for to err too far to one side and your ship plunges off the waterfall of deflation but too close to the other and it burns in the hellfire of inflation. The global fleet is tethered by chains of trade and investment so if one ship veers perilously off course it pulls the others with it. Our only salvation is to hoist our economic sails and harness the winds of innovation and productivity. It is said that de-leveraging is a perilous journey and beneath these dark waters are many a sunken economy of lore. Print too little money and we cascade off the waterfall like the Great Depression of the 1930s… print too much and we burn like the Weimar Republic Germany in the 1920s… fail to harness the trade winds and we sink like Japan in the 1990s. On cold nights when the moon is full you can watch these ghost ships making their journey back to hell… they appear to warn us that our resolution to avoid one fate may damn us to the other.
Volatility at World’s End symbolizes a new paradigm for pricing risk that emerged after the 2008 financial crash and is related to our collective fear of deflation. The metaphor encapsulates the unyielding sense of dread that the global economy will plunge into the dark abyss and is the source of major changes in volatility markets. Today the existential fear of world’s end deflation is so powerful investors are willing to pay the highest prices for portfolio insurance in nearly two decades. The market for forward volatility has become unhinged as the SPX variance and VIX futures curves sustain historically high premiums over low spot vol. My argument is not that this extreme fear is misplaced but that it is mispriced. Like Odysseus in the epic poem the global economy is trapped between the monsters of Scylla and Charybdis. We risk one to avoid the other. From one world’s end to the next sometimes I wonder if decades from now we will look back with the hindsight that we were all hedging the wrong tail.
Greece missed another deadline to approve conditions for a second €130bn bail-out on Tuesday night, after a meeting with political leaders was postponed until Wednesday because of last-minute haggling with international lenders over emergency spending cuts. A government official said Lucas Papademos, the technocrat prime minister, would hold the talks on Wednesday morning and expected a deal to be presented for approval at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers later in the week. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b10af3b0-517f-11e1-a9d7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1lfiiEgbH
Several large investors have threatened to block Glencore and Xstrata’s proposed all-share merger, which would create a $90bn commodities giant in the largest global mining deal on record, reports the FT.http://ftalphaville.ft.com/thecut/2012/02/08/873091/glencore-and-xstrata-face-blocking-threat-2/
The White House has quietly injected itself into ongoing settlement discussions aimed at resolving regulators’ allegations that leading US banks abused struggling homeowners, underscoring the deal’s potential impact on the broader housing market and the presidential election, http://ftalphaville.ft.com/thecut/2012/02/08/872921/us-mortgage-deal-nears/
General Motors is preparing to disclose “horrendous” fourth quarter losses out of its European Opel/Vauxhall unit and wants to cut costs in a plan that could involve job cuts and plant closures, the WSJ says,http://ftalphaville.ft.com/thecut/2012/02/08/872951/gm-wants-to-cut-opel/