Epsilon Theory Professional
Three times in my professional life as an investor, I have felt a trade in my bones, by which I mean a certainty that there is a massive disjuncture between a real world poised for sharp secular decline and a market world at buoyant narrative highs. The first time was in the summer of 2008. The second time was in February of 2020. The third time is today.
In the summer of 2008 and February of 2020 I saw the trade to, yes, make money from those real world calamities. I do NOT see the trade here.
The insight of Schrödinger’s Cat is that the cat is alive AND the cat is dead before the box is opened. It’s not merely unknown whether the cat is alive or dead. The cat is actually alive AND actually dead at the same time.
In our real-life world of investing in markets, we frequently deal with real-life cats that are both alive AND dead at the same time. Like US Treasuries.
Every once in a very rare while, we see what we call a Missionary statement (an action or a speech by a famous person or organization on a ubiquitous media platform) that has the potential to change the Common Knowledge (what everyone believes that everyone believes) about an important aspect of our investment lives.
We are only given the world once. Usually that’s not a big deal from an investing standpoint, because the possible parallel universes aren’t that far apart in their market consequences. Over the next three weeks (and maybe longer than that!), the fact that we are only given the world once is a very big deal indeed.
Markets happen at the margins. So does narrative impact on the market.
That’s important for understanding our semi-bearish narrative monitor signals here in October, as well as for understanding why they may not matter very much right now.
This Friday’s jobs report could show a wage inflation “shock” as salaried Americans work fewer hours to help out their kids with a shattered school schedule.
Maybe it will end up being nothing, but there are plenty of algos that trade these releases immediately as they are reported, and this is classic example of how an algo can get really wrongfooted when the underlying ultra-stable data series goes haywire. Forewarned is forearmed.
No matter how hard you try to keep a beach ball underwater … pushing it, sitting on it, laying on top of it … it seems to have the mind of a trapped animal, turning and spinning to get to the surface at all costs.
I think exactly the same thing is true when it comes to volatility in markets.
I don’t know if this is what SoftBank did.
But this is how I would do it.
Although I wouldn’t because I think it’s probably illegal.
My take on the “massive” VIX election premium? Not massive enough.
This isn’t a “fiscal cliff” we’re talking, which was about as manufactured a “crisis” as I’ve seen. This is an honest to god non-trivial chance that we have an intractably disputed election and Constitutional crisis in the United States, against a backdrop of widespread violence in American cities. If that sounds like a VIX of 30 to you … well, bless your heart.
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