Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Columnist at The Striking Price for Barron’s: How to Spot Risk Early

Today’s guest column, How to Spot Risk Early, at The Striking Price on behalf of Steven Sears at Barron’s, is the eleventh time I have had the opportunity to write a column for Barron’s. Today’s column picks up on a theme I addressed in a March 2011 article in Expiring Monthly which was titled, Evaluating Volatility Across Asset Classes. In that 2011 article, I introduce the concept of a volatility compass as a framework for evaluating the different types of volatility spikes that were seen in the 2008 financial crisis, the euro zone crisis as of May 2010, the Arab Spring in March 2011, and the May 6, 2010 flash crash.

[Volatility compass showing different levels of volatility across asset classes during four recent spikes in volatility. Source(s):VIX and More]

In the 2011 article I provide an overview of my thinking as follows:

“It is my belief that a better understanding of the volatility picture across asset classes will yield a better grasp of volatility events and help to identify a number of favorable trading setups.”

Later on I conclude the article with the following thoughts:

“For those who have studied sector rotation strategies and methods for trading geography-based ETFs, some of the analytical techniques used in those two disciplines can be carried over to an analysis of cross asset class volatility.

Ultimately, the study of volatility has both a science and art component to it, but a cross asset class approach provides a more broad-based holistic view of the volatility landscape and adds a little more science to the mix.

At some point, volatility becomes the study largely of contagion and falling dominoes. I can say without hesitation that a multi-disciplinary approach is essential to understanding contagion and dominoes and that a cross asset class analytical framework supplemented by tools such as the volatility compass is an effective way to approach that subject.”

In today’s Barron’s article, I expand upon the idea of four types of volatility indices and address volatility indices that provide a snapshot of geographical uncertainty and risk as well as broader measures of uncertainty and risk across asset classes such as U.S. Treasury Notes and currencies.

I will have more on this subject in the future, but for those interested in researching some of these subjects, I have highlighted some previous posts on different ways of thinking about uncertainty, risk and volatility below.

Related posts:

A full list of my Barron’s contributions:

Disclosure(s): none

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Charting the Recent Decline of the BRIC Components

U.S. stocks are mostly green in today’s session, though there is a good deal of red in global stocks, notably in emerging markets, where the popular EEM emerging markets ETF is down close to 1% as I type this and the Brazil (EWZ) is down more than 2%.

In the chart below, I plot the recent decline of the four large BRIC emerging market country ETFs: Brazil (EWZ); Russia (RSX); India (EPI); China (FXI). While all four country ETFs have declined between 8% and 20% during the past six weeks, the various woes afflicting each country appear to be country-specific to a large extent, though obviously the issues affecting China’s manufacturing base and export market have a significant upstream impact on Brazil.

Emerging markets in general have been struggling as of late, but difficulties in Brazil, India and China have helped to fuel a global selloff.

Going forward, investors will be well-served to keep an eye on all four components of the BRIC block, as well as aggregated BRIC ETFs, such as the most popular issue in this space: the iShares MSCI BRIC Index (BKF).

For those who are interested in evaluating the risk and uncertainty in emerging markets in general, the recent VEXXM as a Measure of Emerging Markets Volatility and Risk is recommended reading for some background and information on VXEEM, the CBOE Emerging Markets ETF Volatility Index.

[source(s): StockCharts.com]

Related posts:

Disclosure(s): long EEM at time of writing

Monday, July 1, 2013

Top Posts of 2013 (Through First Half of Year)

Every year I tabulate the most-read posts in this space as I find this exercise to be an excellent way to identify the issues that are resonating with readers and also to see how these issues evolve over time. These most-read posts also serve as easily accessible repositories of high-quality material for the benefit of new readers and long-term readers alike.

A number of themes seem to be top of mind for 2103 so far. Clearly the VIX ETPs and their construction and valuation quirks continue to be a huge issue, as is their performance during various volatility regimes. On a related note, low volatility ETPs generated considerable press and interest toward the beginning of the year and as volatility picked up in the second quarter, readers gravitated toward information on VIX spikes and various ways to measure and evaluate risk.

The posts below represent those that have been read by the highest number of unique readers during the first half of 2013. Farther down there are links to similar lists going back to 2008, along with several other “best of” type posts that I have flagged for archival purposes.

For the record, each year I also attach the hall of fame label to a handful of posts that I believe have particularly compelling and/or original content, regardless of readership.

Related posts:

Disclosure(s): none

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