This blog post originally appeared on RealMoney Silver on Oct. 7 at 7:33 a.m. EDT.
The following observation is a thin-reed one and admittedly non-rigorous, but it might be more important than a lot of my fancy analysis and logic.
For what it is worth, this is what I have been seeing in the last week -- and, quite frankly, it makes me more optimistic.
As readers know, a constant theme of mine has been that the vortex (and continued supply) of selling from the
would serve as a
to any meaningful market advance.
Beginning last Monday, I began to see a number of big hedge funds in the
futures pit, boldly selling futures to hedge their core long holdings. As the market dropped precipitously on both Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon, they got ever more aggressive -- according to my sources, more aggressive today than at almost any point in a decade or more.
If my observation is correct -- and we will get some sense of this on Friday afternoon when the size of the professionally hedged S&P futures positions are released; our thesis will be proven correct if there is a large increase in open interest -- it will be proof positive that those hedge funds are now shorting the hell out of S&P futures in order to hedge their cratering longs. Indeed, some of those hedge funds might now even be overhedged and short S&P futures, as it has been working.
This strategy is a classic tactic one sees at panic/capitulation lows as hedge-hoggers sell short what they can sell easily -- the S&P futures market is deep and liquid -- while they retain what they can't sell easily (i.e., large blocks of individual equities).
I have always been concerned about where the marginal buyer would come from, especially with the
ban, and, again, if I am correct, the momentum of a rising market into the all-important year-end could now cause a reverse panic to the upside as hedge fund managers that have overhedged their portfolio with futures buy them back and cover their positions just as fast as they sold them short.
Indeed, it is quite possible that those managers could lose both ways -- on the upside on their short futures positions (which some have overhedged because it's been working!) and as their core holdings fail to perform in line with an advancing market.
That's what I see happening recently in the S&P futures pit, and even if I am only half correct, those hedge-hoggers could be on a sinking ship without a life preserver as the stock market might have bottomed under the weight and intensity of their aggressive short selling of S&P futures.
In summary, investors and traders might now be looking for the answer to the market's recent drubbing in all the wrong places. The fundamental news is bad, but this is known and is arguably being cured by public and private sector initiatives. Rather, it could be that the recent behavior of hedge funds -- namely, their imperious and aggressive shorting of S&P futures -- is even worse than the fundamentals and might be a root cause for the precipitous market drop over the past 10 days.
Accordingly, my investment disposition is now turning sunny.
Doug Kass writes daily for
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Doug Kass is founder and president of Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc., and the general partner and investment manager of Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Short Offshore Fund, Ltd.