Friday, March 25, 2022

Flight-to-Safety ETP Performance During Invasion of Ukraine

Russia invaded Ukraine a little over a month ago, creating turmoil and panic in stocks and across a wide variety of asset classes and instruments. 

In the graphic below, I capture the performance of ETPs covering a variety of traditional flight-to-safety instruments that are used to de-risk or hedge an equity-centric portfolio.  These include: 
SHY: 1-3 Year Treasuries (solid red line)
GLD: Gold (dark purple line)
UUP: U.S. Dollar (light green line)
FXY: Japanese Yen (violet line)
FXF: Swiss Franc (light blue line)
VIXY: Short-Term VIX Futures (black line)

Note that normally I would use VXX, but the price distortions due to the suspension of new creation units makes VIXY a more accurate measure.

The graphic shows that none of the ETPs above turned in particularly strong performance.  Long volatility has been the best performer for the first two weeks, but is now down more than the S&P 500 Index, with a loss of over 12%.  The top performer for the entire period is gold, which has had a fairly steady if unremarkable return during this period.  The second-best performer is the dollar, which has seen a steady upside, but has consistently trailed gold.  Three ETPs have also generated losses, following a slight uptick the first few days.  The worst performer has been the Japanese yen and the other underperformers have been the Swiss Franc and 1-3 Year Treasuries.

All in all, these traditional or generic hedges have been a disappointment.  In my next post, I will look at some hedges that are better suited to the Russia-Ukraine situation and have delivered much better results.


Further Reading:
Safe Haven Options Shrinking?
Chart of the Week: Flight-to-Safety ETPs
Revisiting the Flight-to-Safety Trade
Chart of the Week: The Flight-to-Safety Trade
Why Not Point Hedges?
Forces Acting on the VIX
A Conceptual Framework for Volatility Events

While it has not been updated in a while, new readers may also enjoy older posts that have been tagged with the Hall of Fame label.

For those who may be interested, you can always follow me on Twitter at @VIXandMore

Disclosure(s): Net short VXX and long GLD and SHY at time of writing

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