One of the strategies that has emerged in the post-squeeze normal is cornering the most illiquid stocks, and pushing them up, or down with relative ease due to the lack of liquidity and/or broad participation. But how does one go about quantifying what are the most illiquid stocks: is it the ones that trade the least on any given day (a double edge sword, because exiting a position would be that much more problematic after pushing the prices to any desired level), or is it simply those where individual trades have the highest price impact? One suggested answer is to look at the equities whose current float is a small fraction of their total outstanding stock.
If the central banks' intention was to convert "hedge" funds into what are essentially plain vanilla long-onlies (understandable in a world in which being long the most shorted names generates outsized returns year after year), they have succeeded.
The Russell 3000 — to which more than $5 trillion in assets were benchmarked as of 2013 — will be reconstituted next month based on market capitalizations calculated at the end of trading today. Here's what you need to know...
We have all read the latest crop of media articles challenging gold’s investment relevance. The typical approach to bearish gold analysis is to attribute hypothetical fears to gold investors, and then point out these concerns have failed to materialize. Sprott believes the investment thesis for gold is a bit more complex than simplistic motivations commonly cited in financial press. We would suggest gold’s relatively methodical advance since the turn of the millennium has had less to do with investor fears of hyperinflation or U.S. dollar collapse than it has with persistent desire to allocate a small portion of global wealth away from traditional financial assets and the fiat currencies in which they are priced.
With over $4 trillion invested in Russell index-linked products, this year’s rebalance combined with the “Will they/won’t they” Fed rate increase debate could make for an eventful start to summer.
Since one should always do the opposite of what Goldman recommends (because that is what Goldman itself is trading), the following is a perfectly suitable, and free, substitute of the SQZZ ETF: all one needs to do is go long the stocks Goldman recommends to short, go short the stocks Goldman thinks will be squeezed, and wait for the money to roll in courtesy of Goldman's flow and prop traders.
An overview of the major events next week within the context of the capital markets, which could be at inflection points.
Risk is no longer priced into anything. Volatility has gone to sleep. Uniformity of thought has taken over the stock market. Complacency has reached a point where even central banks have begun to worry about it: the idea that markets can only go up – once entrenched, which it is – leads to financial instability because no one is prepared when that theory suddenly snaps. But all this bullishness, this complacency is only skin deep. Beneath the layer of the largest stocks, volatility has taken over ruthlessly, the market is in turmoil, people are dumping stocks wholesale, and dreams and hopes are drowning in red ink.
According to Goldman, the median company’s EV/sales ratio is now the highest in 35 years, surpassing even the dot com bubble.
Aside from an opening short-squeeze that saw 'most-shorted' stocks surge 0.8% in the first 15 minutes of the day, stocks did very little for the rest of the day. Ranges were extremely narrow with whatever lift stocks got based on small AUDJPY (carry) sparks but the Dow and S&P end the day red (Nasdaq and Russell 2000 green). Nasdaq was driven by AAPL exuberance (what no a new iPhone model??) which grabbed the Tech sector to the best peformance on the day. Utes were the biggest losers as rates reversed early gains and Treasury yields (especially 30Y) surged 6-7 bps from their per-open low yields. The big story was precious metals as Silver and Gold surged on the day. Silver is now up over 9% in the last 3 days - its best run in 22 months. Interestingly, VIX was pushed notably lower on the day (but it appears investors are moving hedges further out in time - to September). Credit notably underperformed. Today was all about pre- and post-Europe (as normal).
A new meme is spreading in financial markets: The Fed is about to turn off the monetary spigot. US Printmaster General Ben Bernanke announced that he might start reducing the monthly debt monetization program, called ‘quantitative easing’ (QE), as early as the autumn of 2013, and maybe stop it entirely by the middle of next year. He reassured markets that the Fed would keep the key policy rate (the Fed Funds rate) at near zero all the way into 2015. Still, the end of QE is seen as the beginning of the end of super-easy policy and potentially the first towards normalization, as if anybody still had any idea of what ‘normal’ was. Fearing that the flow of nourishing mother milk from the Fed could dry up, a resolutely unweaned Wall Street threw a hissy fit and the dummy out of the pram. So far, so good. There is only one problem: it won’t happen.
A funny thing happens when there is only one driver of economic market growth, any chance of intelligent fact-based, logic-induced, fundamental-biased investing becomes reduced to the rubble of momentum-chasing leveraged beta. No matter how much your 2-and-20 taking manager explains his 'process', the charts below show that the thundering herd of 'dumb' money that used to be so useful in identifying the extremes of market hubris and dysphoria appear to have overwhelmed the world of 'smart' money. Hedge funds have never been more net long US equities; hedge fund returns have never been more correlated to the market; hedge funds have never produced so little alpha; and hedge funds are as leveraged to this beta as they were at the top in 2007. This will not end well...
The 'most shorted' names in the Russell 3000 are up a remarkable 1.4% today compared to 0.45% in the index itself. The short-squeeze off the NFP gap-down lows is impressive indeed. From the open last Friday, the 'most short' names are up 6.6% against the index up only 3.5% as the dash for trash continues in the face of increasingly dismal data. The last 2 times that the 'most short' index was this squeezed relative to the index was late-December (before the equity dip) and mid-Fed (before the equity dip). Just as we warned here and here, the inexorable flow of easy money means the dash-for-trash (as remarkably ridiculous as it seems - though as now know nothing is allowed to fail ever again) has been the winning trade; though as we note below, there is a limit to the 'squeezability' and we appear to be there in the short term.
The 'down-up' streak is over, long live the next streak. Precious metals had a big day with Silver and Gold surging 1-2% (among the biggest moves in 7 months); Treasuries pushed higher in yield from the open but faded rapidly into the close to end unchanged ay 1.75%; Commodities in general were bid on the back (supposedly) of China's lower inflation print; IG credit was bid while HY credit (spreads not the HYG ETF) rolled over into the close. What was most evident was the total and utter failure of the 3:30pm Ramp - it seems our discussion of the farce last night brought a world of front-runners to the game and ruined the Algos day as instead rallying S&P 500 futures dropped 4 points in the last 30 minutes - this is the biggest 3:30-to-4:00 loss in six week (and 3rd biggest of year). The world was celebrating another new all-time high in the Dow and the S&P gave back half its gains to close +4 points; but the Dow Transports closed -0.3%, and the Russell 2000 (for so long Bernanke's policy tool) ended -0.23%.