Hedge Fund Liquidity Plunges To "Danger Zone" For US Stocks

Tyler Durden's picture

Simply put, the massively overcrowded hedge fund herding into US equities has created a crisis situation. With liquidity levels at record lows, the market will be unable to smoothly absorb any concerted selling pressure from large money managers.

“When hedge funds get spooked about something and they all delever, there are going to be small pockets that get disproportionately hurt,” Altshuller said.


“Certain stocks are down 20, 40 percent with no apparent reason. Others catch the fear bug and start selling.”

There's safety in numbers, Bloomberg's Lu Wang notes, until a stampede starts. That’s the theory underlying a study of hedge fund holdings by Novus Partners Inc., which sought to calculate how easily the market could absorb concerted selling by large money managers. Using an analysis that turns mainly on how much volume is occurring in stocks favored by professional speculators, Novus says liquidity is at an all-time low.

“Their ability to sell in the marketplace is really going to depend on their peers who are trying to sell at the same time,” Stan Altshuller, chief research officer at the analytics firm, said by phone. “It becomes the prisoner’s dilemma.”

Bloomberg's Wang reports that Novus began with the premise that most hedge fund managers have an idea of how a stock would react if they alone started bailing. It then tried to estimate a broader impact: what if everyone bailed at the same time?

Looking at equity funds with $2 trillion and limiting daily divestitures to 20 percent of a stock’s average volume, Novus calculated that the market could absorb only about 13 percent of the industry’s total holdings in a month right now. The measure, dubbed 30-day liquidity, has averaged 32 percent since it began tracking the data in 1999.


In a market where volatility has all but disappeared and the S&P 500 Index trades at all-time highs, the study suggests a hidden risk lurks should sentiment suddenly sour. A similar deficit of liquidity exacerbated selloffs in the past 18 months as stocks beloved by hedge fund managers led the plunge.


As money flocks to popular names, the window of escape gets smaller. Novus, which sells products aimed at avoiding liquidity traps and managing risks, theorizes that it’s no coincidence that in each of the last three years, the low point of liquidity all came within three months of a market selloff. Last time it was as low as it is now in July 2015, the S&P 500 suffered the worst decline in four years the next month.


In addition, the last bear market started in October 2007, just four months after liquidity appeared to be drained out from hedge funds.

This lack of liquidity builds on our growing fears in US equity markets as highlighted by the discussion of "Catalyst Fund"'s impact on markets last week...

So it is possible to understand why the fund may suddenly have done so poorly, but could it really have driven the market?

$3.5 billion seems too small at first to drive the entire market (and the manager has been quoted to saying it wasn't responsible for market moves), but it did act leveraged - with returns of more than 5 times that of the S&P 500 - so it may have acted more like a $20 billion fund - large, but still hopefully too small to drive the market.


In all likelihood this particular fund is just a relatively public example of a more widespread strategy - a strategy that was getting hit across the board.  I am more willing to believe the argument that this fund was just one of many funds trading this strategy and that everyone employing this strategy was hit by the same combination of factors and that this widespread unwind was driving the market.


I want to believe that view, because the alternative, that liquidity has devolved to the point that a relatively small and formerly obscure fund can drive the entire market for days on end is quite scary as both a trader and investor.

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Harry Quant's picture

It's not panicking, if you're first. 

RogerMud's picture

it's only panicking a little if you're second.

last, well, never mind.

The_Juggernaut's picture

So... I'm confused.  Should I buy strong, well-valued comapnies that sell products we can't live without or not?

Ghost of PartysOver's picture

A quick glance at that chart shows that after Panic Selling comes tremendous Panic Buying.   Smell the Green!!!!  The hard part is patiently waiting while wondering if the Panic will ever come.

ejmoosa's picture

"The waiting is the hardest part"

-Tom Petty

DetectiveStern's picture

Be quickest, be smartest or cheat.

DogeCoin's picture

Selling? What's that? I heard it was for losers.

ToSoft4Truth's picture

You only lose when you sell, ride it to the bottom - Mr. Market always recovers.  

Soul Glow's picture

Send in the Treasury clowns and reserve banks, they'll buy anything.

actionjacksonbrownie's picture

The money changers got your back (until they stick a knife in it)

Atomizer's picture

The monkey grinders are running out of excuses. Fucking muppets. 

Mr Monkey - Organ Grinder - YouTube

ukspreads's picture

It's different this time !

buzzsaw99's picture


Hohum's picture

Sure, they will.  A to B, B to A.  Repeat as necessary.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Call it what it is, a casino. Great, now the whales are threatening to leave.

spastic_colon's picture

whats notable to me is the rapid rate at which it reached this level this time as opposed to a bit gentler sloping downturn the last several.......

south40_dreams's picture

Ctrl P is the new orange

AmadausVoltaire's picture

If we attack our corporations or hedge funds, as the Dim socialists would prefer, we strengthen their overseas counterparts. A long time ago, when the EU was young and their currency was strong, I heard about euro company's buying up American brands.

Atomizer's picture

Sorry Zerohedge, looks like I was just upgraded to 500 internal Internet error. 

500 Internal Server Error

Sorry, something went wrong.

A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.

If you see them, send them this information as text (screenshots frighten them):

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Grandad Grumps's picture

The large international criminal banks can make infinite amounts of money to provide infinite liquidity. If they don't, then it is their plan to take the market down.

Atomizer's picture

I can hear it now, chairs getting thrown into walls. Why can't we shutdown this motherfucker Atomizer. Our DDOS attempts don't work. We have a million subs. He keeps posting after attempted to fry his network. 

Someone in YouTube has my permission to create content. I can't stop laughing. These idiots can't find their way out of a wet paper bag. 

EX-floor hedger's picture

For an October 2017 horizon - Take a look-see at doing some squishes on the futures index or individual stocks of choice. Start by shorting two at the money calls and but a mildly out of the money put. Look to aadd to this position every month thru Mid-April. Then sit on your hands.

-all the best  

Team_Huli's picture

"In addition, the last bear market started in October 2007, just four months after liquidity appeared to be drained out from hedge funds."

That was 2007.  Now that hedgies own real estate/rentals, lets see how fast the funds can raise money when the withdraw requests pile on...

SmedleyButlersGhost's picture

Was there ever a time when the "market(s)" were actually a way for companies to raise capital in order to produce profits and share same with the shareholders?

silverer's picture

Hedge funds. Just muddle through one day at a time until you end up here.
I remember my Dad's story. He was on a date, and drove his Model A to a quiet place and parked off the road. So, they sat there necking for about an hour, and when he started the car and tried to leave, it wouldn't move. Puzzled, he opened the door and stepped out to look. Turned out he parked in quicksand, and the car was up to the axle. The moral here is, better plan for things that can go wrong in the future, and not be distracted by immediate gains.

Ink Pusher's picture

It's called double dipping and then trying to cover the shorts with other peoples money.

Fuckin' assholes.