Equities are at an all-time high and the demand for protection of downside risk has collapsed.
The Credit Suisse Fear Barometer (CSFB) is a measure of the protection that can be purchased through 3-month put options by selling 10% out-of-the-money (OTM) 3-month call options. For example, if put options and call options were equally priced for equivalent levels of money-ness, then the proceeds from selling a 10% OTM call could be used to purchase a 10% OTM put. As the demand for hedging downside risk increases, the cost of the puts will increase relative to the calls. When this happens, the proceeds from selling a 10% OTM call may only be able to purchase further OTM put options (e.g. 20% OTM).
What we have seen with the CSFB index for most of this year has been a relatively extreme demand for downside protection. As a case-in-point, the CSFB hit an all-time high of 35.24on March 26, 2013. What this meant is that – at that date – selling a 10% OTM would only be able to finance a put that was 35.24% below the current SPX level! In fact, during 2013, this index has averaged 31.05 when its long-term historical average has been 17.47.
But we have witnessed a notable break during the past two weeks. Read more
I know what you’re thinking. First Kenny Rogers and now the Rolling Stones? Why does this guy keep quoting 1980s songs and relating them to defined benefit (DB) plans?
Well, there were two things I did during my summer nights as a teenager growing up in the ’80s that left a lifelong impact on me – listening to music and dreaming about DB plans. Didn’t we all? More on this later….
Anyway, in my last post, I introduced the idea of dynamic asset allocation (DAA) as a DB plan risk management strategy. This strategy works particularly well with hard frozen DB plans.
Let’s face it, Americans love top 10 lists. David Letterman includes one in every episode of the show, and if you Google top 10 lists you will find an array of results that range from the predictable to the just plain strange.
A recent search result included:
- 10 absurd trademark claims
- 10 video game characters with real-life prototypes
- 10 competitive eating achievements NOT to be tried at home
I recently put together a top 10 list (of sorts) for Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). It outlines in ten steps the activities that need to be completed to put a plan in place.
The ten steps are:
(1) Engage your ESOP consultant
(2) Conduct an ESOP feasibility analysis
What’s one of the most noticeable consequences of the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing (i.e. QE3)? It’s the stark drop in fixed income volatility. Look at the chart below, which demonstrates this point for the investment grade credit market. The blue line is the rolling 21-day realized total-return volatility for a Barclays Global Investment Grade Credit Index. The red line is Thursday, September 13, 2012 – the day the Fed announced QE3. As the blue line crosses the red one, you can see marked drops in the level and range of volatility.
One thing is for sure – we are shaped by our experiences. And when I look back over the past 14 years of my career in the retirement industry, I’ve had some amazing experiences working with many of our industry’s most influential advocates, hundreds of plan sponsors and committees, and thousands of plan participants.
I’ve been so blessed, to learn so much from so many, that I feel obligated to pass on what I learned from these experiences and the wisdom that was shared with me. My blog will focus on practice management and development, mostly for retirement plan advisors and financial professionals, but occasionally broad concepts on marketing, sales, and service.
I’ve been working with advisors and financial professionals for nearly my entire career, but here’s what you need to know about me:
The Milken Institute Global Conference is over for 2013; Wednesday was the conference’s last day…and what an experience. For my last post on the conference, I’ll look back on something other than macroeconomic forces and investment trends. I’m taking a slightly different tack than previous posts because there was plenty of thought-provoking content on a wide range of other topics throughout the conference…and I’d be remiss not to give those topics some coverage.
Before I attended the conference, I didn’t fully appreciate the Milken Institute’s broad mission. That mission is to “improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and political solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital, and enhance health.” Read more