Following the biggest (and only) market correction in years, the biggest weekly surge in the VIX ever, the second wholesale market flash crash in history coupled with the first ever limit down trade in the Nasdaq and the E-Mini, not to mention the biggest intraday bearish reversal since Lehman, it would appear that the "smart money" actually was aptly named.
While the "hedge fund" hotel strategy works on the way up, when everyone makes roughly the same profits, it is on the way down when these hedge fund hotels become "Hotel California" - hedge funds can check out, and sometimes they can even leave... with massive losses. According to a Bloomberg analysis, many of these hedge fund hotel stocks, or companies where hedge funds hold a combined stake of at least 25%, suffered declines of as much as 42 percent in the recent stock market rout.
As asset bubbles are in the way of the Fed’s policy, a decline in stock prices removes the equity market bubble and enables the Fed to print more money and start the process up again. On the other hand, the stock market decline could indicate that the players in the market have comprehended that the stock market is an artificially inflated bubble that has no real basis.Once the psychology is destroyed, flight sets in.
"YTD investor performance has been plagued by “non-stop pain trades” as liquidity expectations weaken and investment horizons shorten. For example, July/August saw the S&P 500 media sector lose $100bn of market cap in 15 trading days, as well as significant losses in Asian and Emerging Market currencies following the Chinese yuan devaluation."
As it turns out it is not just in the US that the "smart money" is bailing out as fast as it can: according to Bloomberg, the wealthiest investors in China’s stock market are also scrambling for the exits. To wit: "The number of traders with more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) of shares in their accounts shrank by 28 percent in July, even as those with less than 100,000 yuan rose by 8 percent, according to the nation’s clearing agency. While some of the drop is explained by falling market values, CLSA Ltd. says China’s rich have taken advantage of state buying to cash out after the nation’s record-long bull market peaked in June."
With hedge funds net short for the first time ever, and Commercial Hedgers are holding the lowest net short position in gold futures since the launch of the gold bull market in 2001, we thought it interesting that - for the first time since 2009, BofAML's fund managers' survey finds Gold is "undervalued."
Late in June, BofAML noted that during the previous week "sales [of US stocks] were the largest since January 2008, led by institutional clients [whose] net sales were the largest in data history." Whether that particular bout of smart money dumping was simply an effort to get out ahead of what threatened to be a rather ugly conclusion to six months of bailout negotiations between Greece and creditors we can't say, but what we do know is that not only is the smart money (still) selling, but now even the dumb money has joined the party.
For the last three weeks, gold has experienced something that has never happened before - hedge funds aggregate net position has been short for the first time in history. However, as Dana Lyons notes, this week saw another 'historic' shift in gold positioning as commercial hedgers shifted to the least hedged since 2001... so the 'fast' money is chasing momentum and the 'smart' money is lifting hedges into them.