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Normally, we have “Naked Put Writes” in this section of the newsletter. But with the explosion in implied volatility and stock price in several “short squeeze” stocks (or “meme stocks,” if you prefer: a meme stock is any publicly traded company that is benefitting from the fact that investors are using social media to drive interest in the company's shares).
The following table shows the current status of the most expensive of these in terms of implied volatility:
Whenever the market has an extended bull run, such as it's having now, it begins to put a lot of distance between the current value of $SPX and its 200-day Moving Average. Inevitably, some "analyst" posts the fact that "$SPX is x% above its 200-day Moving Average" and then alleges that disaster is at hand. Usually, a deluge of similar analyses follows. Those types of statements are usually wrong, or at least misleading. Two things that are rarely explored in these articles are: 1) when is disaster going to be at hand, and 2) is percent really the measure we want to use, rather than standard deviations?
We occasionally publish the composite chart of $VIX dating back to near its inception. For these purposes, we use the original $VIX – $VXO – since it has the longest price history. That history is shown in the chart on the below. It has generally been the case that $VIX rises early in the year, peaks in the spring, declines into the late summer, and then begins a rapid acceleration in October, before finally tailing off towards the end of the year.
No two markets are ever exactly alike, but there are quite a few similarities between our indicators at the current time and where they stood a year ago – comparing the third Fridays of February in each case. As noted in the Market Comment section, that was the last day (February 21st, 2020) before stock crashed into a violent, short-term bear market. There are a lot of similarities. Of course, this article doesn’t compare other periods in history where there were also similarities, yet the market didn’t crash. Perhaps almost every top has some of these similarities.
One of the cumulative breadth indicators that we follow is cumulative VOLUME breadth (CVB). It is the running daily total of “volume on advancing issues” minus “volume on declining issues.” While it can be calculated using NYSE, NASDAQ, and “stocks only” data, we prefer the “stocks only” (i.e., all stocks on which listed options are traded in the U.S.).
In the November 15, 2020, issue we had a rather comprehensive discussion of the CBOE’s Equity-only put-call ratio. Both its history over the last 20 years and the comparison of 2020 statistics with those past 20 years were discussed. This is just a brief article to update the figures through the end of the year.
As we have shown, there is a massive number of overbought put-call charts and just a general level of extreme speculation in the current market. In late 2017 and 2019, conditions were similar and they persisted into February before the market collapsed. The market is rarely so accommodating as to keep repeating itself, so while I definitely feel that a major correction could occur, I would expect our indicators to get ahead of that. But just in case something comes out of the blue, this strategy is designed to generate large gains in a collapsing market, at only a small cost if that does not happen.
Thanksgiving sets off a number of seasonal patterns, although we combine several of them for one trade. The three main seasonal patterns are:
1) post-Thanksgiving bullishness: buy the market at the close of the day before Thanksgiving and hold into mid-December.
We have been trading this seasonal spread annually every year since 1994, except for 1995. The spread has a good track record, but suffered its worst loss to date last year. All of the pertinent statistics are included below.