On That $100 Billion Eurodollar Barbell Trade

Tyler Durden's picture

Something interesting happened earlier today in the much underappreciated eurodollar market. As the Bloomberg chart below shows, just before noon, someone aggressively sold 100,000 contracts of the March 90 day Eurodollar future. Why is this notable? Because at a contract size of $1MM per, this is effectively a $100 billion notional bet that the eurodollar price will decline over the next month. What does this mean in simple terms is that since the eurodollar price is determined as the difference for par in 3 month Libor, someone just put a very sizable bet (probably one of the biggest single Euro$ blocks traded in recent months) that Libor is due for a jump. Now Libor, traditional economists will say, is a function of monetary policy and a reflection of the short-end of the curve (remember the now forgotten TED Spread?) which is driven almost exclusively by the Fed Funds rate. It is also driven by exogenous risks to the credit system such as what happened when Lehman blew up and Libor hit the stratosphere. In other words someone just put down up to $100 million in capital at risk ($82.5 million to be specific) that over the next month (contract expiration assuming no roll, is March 14, 2011) we will see one of two things: a bullish economic development: a rate hike (or expectations thereof) in the US, or to a lesser extent the ECB, or a very bearish one, such as a bank collapse, along the lines of what the recently disclosed surge in MLF borrowings may be predicting - recall what happened to Libor when Lehman fell... In other words your traditional barbell trade. Either way, should this single trade be imitated in the next week, one can bet that the Eurodollar trade will suddenly become far more popular.

Note the 100k block at 11:59 am Eastern.