Who's Hedged? Seriously, Who's Hedged?
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A colleague forwarded some comments made by a Goldman Sachs analyst who was pointing out the impressive million-contract-per day average volume for S&P 500 (SPX) index options this month has come with unusually flat Put-Call skew and a steadily declining put/call volume ratio in the product, which is typically where the largest institutional money manager go to hedge.
When I'd occasionally lose sleep because of downside risk on our books, one of the smartest index traders I knew (and the youngest managing director ever named at Salomon Brothers) used to tell me to 'Relax, the puts you are short are the reason fund managers won't dump their positions into a downward move.' Basically suggesting that a hedged market is unlikely to crash. While I readily admit this argument was partly to justify our level of risk (and collection of theta), I do believe there is validity to it, and that's why today's unusually flat SPX vol skew and relatively low put open interest (compared to call OI) tells me that we might be in for a serious pullback.
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