Posted at 6:50 am , on February 15, 2018
Exchange traded products with the short exposure to the implied volatility of the S&P 500 index have been proliferating prior to “Volatility Black Monday” on the 5th of February 2018. To investigate the crash of short volatility products, I will analyse the intraday risk of these products to steep intraday declines in the S&P 500 index. As a result, I will demonstrate that these products have been poorly designed from the beginning having too strong sensitivity to a margin call on a short notice. In fact, I estimate that the empirical probability of such a margin call has been high. To understand the performance of product with the short exposure to the VIX, I will make an interesting connection between the short volatility strategy and leveraged strategies in the S&P 500 index and investment grade bonds. Finally, I will discuss some ways to reduce the drawdown risk of short volatility products.
- Exchange traded products (ETPs) for investing in volatility may not be appropriate for retail investors because, to deliver the lasting performance in the long-term, these products need risk controls and dynamic rebalancing to avoid steep drawdowns and to optimise the carry costs from the VIX futures curve.
- The convexity of VIX changes and the sensitivity of changes in the VIX futures to changes in the S&P 500 index is extremely high in regimes with low and moderate levels of the implied volatility. As a result, a margin call on short volatility ETPs is more likely to occur in periods with low to medium volatility rather than in periods with high volatility.
- Without proper risk-control on the notional exposure, ETPs with the short VIX exposure are too sensitive to the intraday margin calls on a very short notice. Empirically, in the regimes with medium volatility, an intraday decline of 7% in the S&P 500 index is expected lead to 80-100% spike in the VIX futures and, as a result, to margin calls for short volatility ETPs.
- Short volatility ETNs provide with a leveraged beta exposure to the performance of the S&P 500 index, there is no alpha in these strategies. This leveraged exposure can be replicated using either S&P 500 index with leverage of 4.2 to 1 or with investment grade bonds with leverage of 9.6 to 1. All these strategies perform similarly well in a bull market accompanied by a small realized volatility and significant roll yields, yet these leveraged strategies are subject to a margin call on daily basis.
Posted at 5:21 pm , on December 1, 2017
What is the most significant contributing factor to the performance of a quantitative fund: its signal generators or its risk allocators? Can we still succeed if we have good signal generators but poor risk management? How should we allocate to a portfolio of quantitative strategies?
I have developed a top-down and bottom-up model for portfolio allocation and risk-management of quantitative strategies. The interested readers can find the slides of my presentation here and can watch the webinar can be viewed on youtube.
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Posted at 5:13 pm , on November 1, 2017
This post was originally published in LinkedIn pulse on July 17, 2016
As I write, the extreme volatility in financial markets continued in year 2016 with no prospects of abating in the future. It is becoming customary to blame the volatility as a reason for excessive risk-aversion and poor investment performance. Yet, if you have the right mindset and strategies to benefit from these swings, you may actually welcome these type of volatile markets. There is indeed evidence that quant funds outperformed their peers in 2016 (see bloomberg article) Keep on Reading!
Posted at 6:10 am , on October 31, 2017
In my last post I have discussed the growing popularity and demand for strategies investing in the volatility risk-premia. One of the recurring questions that arises when I discuss this topic is whether it makes sense to allocate to these strategies in a low volatility regime. In this post I will present evidence that the current level of the implied volatility serves as a weak predictor for the performance of a short volatility strategy. Instead, the two factors are significant to explain and predict the performance of the short volatility strategy: first, the realized volatility of the VIX and, second, the roll yield associated with the term structure of the VIX futures.
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Posted at 3:45 pm , on September 20, 2017
I present a few systematic strategies for investing into volatility risk-premia and illustrate their back-tested performance. I apply the four factor Fama-French-Carhart model to attribute monthly returns on volatility strategies to returns on the style factors. I show that all strategies have insignificant exposure to the style factors, while the exposure to the market factor becomes insignificant when strategies are equipped with statistical filtering and delta-hedging. I show that, by allocating 10% of portfolio funds to these strategies within equity and fixed-income benchmarked portfolios, investors can boost the alpha by 1% and increase the Sharpe ratio by 10%-20%.
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Posted at 3:23 pm , on August 27, 2017
Empirical studies have established that the log-normal stochastic volatility (SV) model is superior to its alternatives. Importantly, Christoffersen-Jacobs-Mimouni (2010) examine the empirical performance of Heston, log-normal and 3/2 stochastic volatility models using three sources of market data: the VIX index, the implied volatility for options on the S&P500 index, and the realized volatility of returns on the S&P500 index. They found that, for all three sources, the log-normal SV model outperforms its alternatives. Keep on Reading!
Posted at 4:18 pm , on July 1, 2017
Q: Euan Sinclair
A: me 🙂
Q: What is your educational background?
A: My educational background is a bit unusual. I have a PhD in Probability and Statistics which I obtained after obtaining a bachelor in mathematical economics and three master degrees in statistics, industrial engineering and mathematical finance. As a result, I like to think I am truly diversified when it comes to work and experience. It was not my intention to get many degrees, I was driven by curiosity and desire to learn new skills.
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