NYSE Margin Debt Plunges To Mid-2010 Levels, Still 60% Higher Than May 2009 Lows
There was some good news for the bulls in the just released NYSE August margin debt update. Chief of these was that margin debt plunged from $306 billion to $272 billion in the past month, the lowest since the $270 billion in October 2010, which was to be expected considering the explosion in volatility of the last month. This means there are that fewer levered long positions that need liquidations/margin call collateral compliance. Another consequence of the market plunge in August was that Net Worth, or Margin Account credit balances, and Free Credit Cash accounts less Margin debt, the most direct proxy for levered beta pursuit, after hitting an all time low (negative net worth ) in May, has surged to nearly unchanged, or just ($4) billion, the most "unlevered" investors have been since June 2010. There is some bad news too however. And it is that at $272 billion in margin debt, there is still far, far more leverage in the market than at the market lows in March 2009, $99 billion or 56% more to be specific, even as many of the economic and market indicators are back to those levels, and in some cases even before. In other words, people still refuse to believe that any market meltdown is for real. And once the margin calls start coming in, the convergence with the 666 on the SPX could come in a matter ot weeks if not days (and, courtesy of the ubiquity of HFT which can just slide the power switch to OFF nowadays, potentially hours).
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