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DIX, GEX and VIX, an analysis by a degenerate

DIX, GEX and VIX, an analysis by a degenerate
Hello everyone, i just wanted to share my attempted at a semi informed DD.
The Dark Index (DIX) and Gamma Exposure (GEX) have been a subject of debate in the discussion room lately. So i thought that it would be a decent to inform and provide my personal opinion on their movements. If this has already been posted then I apologize.
Here is the squeeze metrics link. Here is also another great form of information, it is more helpful in my opinion. It highlights everything that you would need to know about dark pools.
I also want to note that we are in unprecedented times, the government is buying anything and everything trying to keep the market afloat. Trump is telling us that we will be reopened by two weeks ago. Oil is in complete free fall. Oh yeah and the pandemic. It turns out that the Brazilian president was wrong about his people being immune to the corona virus, which is scary because if it gets into the bat population in brazil it can mutate a lot faster. Any who, lets jump right in shall we?
The Dark Index (DIX)
The Dark Index is a dollar weighted measure of the dark pool indicator. It tracks the dark pool short volume for components of the S&P. It is interesting to note that short volume is actually investors buying the underlying stock. So a high percentage (over 45%) for DIX indicates that the market sentiment is stocks only go up and there is more short volume than non short. This is confusing yes but let me try to explain it.
I am the MM and I want to make money today so i tell my HFT algo to create a spread for SPCE. It looks at current market and says Bid: $16.95 and Ask: $17.07. The spread is $0.12. The MM is offering to sell at 17.07 and to buy at 16.95. An investor A puts in an order to buy a share of SPCE at 17.07 and investor B puts an order to sell at 16.95. The MM will place a SHORT sale at 17.07, sell the share of SPCE at 17.07 then instantly turn around and buy a share back at 16.95 from investor B to satisfy its short sale. That is why investors buying are considered short volume.
So as of right now the DIX is at 43.98%. This means that only 43.98% of daily volume is short volume, aka people buying. Historically a rising DIX (yes that is funny laugh it up) indicates market sentiment is bullish while visa versa means bearish. In this case we are looking to get to see a further deterioration of DIX into the 42% to 38% range to see a drastic pull down.
Here is the White Paper they provide for more info.
The DIX has been in a gradual decline ever since we had out totally normal totally legal run up 30% in the S&P. Now we can move on to GEX or the gamma exposure.
Gamma Exposure (GEX)
This has to do with MM delta hedging against calls and puts. This can introduce a put squeeze which is essentially a short squeeze.
If a MM sells you a SPY 240 5/1 (RIP) it will immediately calculate the delta of that option and hedge accordingly. So lets say your OTM SPY put that you were promised was going to print tendies only has a delta of .20 (20%) then the MM is going to go out and short 20 shares of SPY to hedge against the risk. The shorting of those 20 SPY shares pushes the price down further and what happens when it turns out you were wrong about your SPY 240 put? SPY sits at 283 and the delta of your put has gone down to .10 (10%) so the MM no longer needs to hold 20 shorted positions so it buys 10 to keep a delta neutral portfolio.
A low GEX means that the options market is more geared towards puts. Yes i said it all you gay bears, but it is still sitting at 1,264M. But only 6 days ago it was at 6,412M so this is a steep drop off over the past couple days. A high GEX implies that MMs are hedging with ITM or ATM options because they are expecting a change in the current price direction. A negative GEX, like we had starting on February 24th of -773M (aka the real start to the whole downtrend) implies a put squeeze of 773 million shares for every +1% movement in SPY. (The same idea applies to calls buy in the opposite fashion) This creates volatility in the market.
Volatility (VIX)
THIS IS NOT TA ON VIX, im not telling you to buy VIX calls every time it dips below 50 that is actually retarded, but.
It is not a coincidence that VIX jumped 46% the same day that GEX went negative. When GEX is high it insinuates low volatility, and when it is low is implies there will be. As a bearish outlook and put heaving options market drag SPY down it creates panic. There are also people buying share as it is falling thinking they are getting a sweet deal on SPY when it is at 275 because it is only a pandemic right? stocks only go up? All while this is going on MMs had been writing puts and delta hedging appropriately. So SPY go up intraday 2% that is about 1,546 million shares of SPY getting bought to adjust for delta changing on Feb 24th. Then we degenerates buy more puts because basically they are on sale and the cycle continues until the MM can manipulate the market enough to get their gamma exposure down to decrease volatility. Here is an article that explains why we were stuck in that 270 to 285 window for like two weeks.
On the day that VIX peaked at around 83, the GEX was at -2,170M and DIX was at 37.8%. I am not saying that a direct copy of those levels for GEX or DIX will duplicate a record high volatility day but it will help.
When VIX rose 20% from friday april 17th to tuesday april 21st, the most recent notable spike in volatility, DIX and GEX were both on the decline.
Why do I care about this information?
The DIX went from 51.2% to 44.9% in the days leading up to that volatility spike and decline in the S&P500. It seems that DIX is a precursor to what direction the S&P500 will move in the coming days. So it should be known that it is coming off two year record highs and the only time DIX reached those heights again was in admits the tiny crash in the beginning of 2016 and a fallout or correction in 2011.
On the other hand, GEX seems to mirror the S&P leading into down turns, it only leads the curve by a day or two. Please note that this part is just done by looking at the graph and seeing trends. But nonetheless, if you are a gay bear you want this index to keep falling.
Here are the GEX similarities between the last crash and now for the gay bears.
GEX trying to rise then getting swatted back down implying turbulent days are to come. Just from eye balling the day to day change in SPY and GEX it looks like GEX leads a little and SPY lags. So look for another big drop in GEX, hopefully even go negative.

GEX similar patterns before down turns
Also another thing to note, like i said high GEX usually leaded to a pivot in the current direction of the market in the following time period. GEX was at 6,412M and below are times it has been above or at that in the past two years.
It will be very interesting to see what dark liquidity things of this earnings week for tech and basically half of the S&P500.

GEX similarities between crashes at heights
Similarities between DIX in the first crash and now for the gay gay bears.
  • It is at its lowest in the last 20 trading days
  • last time it was at 43.9% was march 11th aka that legendary -9.5% day
  • its called DIX
Thank you for listening, my aderall has worn off and I am going to take the dog out.
TLDR: If this trend continues then it is possible to have another leg down here soon. Be vigilant and check this index a few times a week just to see where the sentiment in dark pools is. Right now I am holding $SPY 6/19 and 9/18 puts.
Also this is not financial advice, I am just sharing my thinking behind my betting my money. If i missed anything or mis explained something then please let me know.
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Hedge Fund That Made 6,000% on VIX Jump Bets on Next Blow-Up

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-28/hedge-fund-that-made-6-000-on-vix-surge-wagers-on-next-blow-up
A hedge fund that reaped an outrageous gain in February’s vol-mageddon is eyeing a fresh target. Houndstooth Capital Management LLC secured a 6,000 percent return from a bearish bet on an exchange-traded product tied to calm markets. Now, the $7.5 million fund sees trouble in an ETF designed to profit from the opposite -- turbulence in stocks. It’s wagering technical forces in the volatility complex will help spur a swift return to stability in the wake of a blowout, undoing the leveraged product in its wake. It goes like this: Even though Houndstooth expects another surge in price swings, it’s using out-of-the-money puts with near-term maturities to bet against the $413 million ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF. UVXY, as it is known, is one of the most liquid, leveraged ETFs that profit from rising volatility. The theory is that after an initial spike there will be a snapback in vol that will decimate the product. “We’re looking for areas where buying or selling volatility is mispriced by the market, or at least where we think there’s a very good risk-reward trade-off,” Lincoln Edwards, founder at Houndstooth, said in an interview. “There’s a risk that another massive VIX spike could destroy UVXY in a single day.” Tucker Hewes, a spokesman for ProShares at Hewes Communications, declined to comment. At $70,000 the trade is modest, but it highlights the contentious issue of whether securities such as UVXY can exert an outsize pull on the very contracts they track, exacerbating their own volatility in the process. Hot Summer Volatility investing has boomed in recent years as ETPs offered cheap and liquid ways for professional money managers and retail investors to punt on the burgeoning asset class. As Wall Street warns of a “hot” summer full of risk, and a more normal regime for volatility after two placid years, many traders are betting on bigger price swings in the latter half of the year. And that’s how Houndstooth made its spectacular February return. The Austin, Texas-based firm bought put options on the ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF, or SVXY, thinking that an upward move in the Cboe Volatility Index would shake sellers out of their torpor. Sure enough, the gauge staged a record-one day spike, sending the ETF plummeting 83 percent -- and handing the fund its best-ever first quarter with a double-digit gain. Houndstooth reckons it has a keen eye for technical risks in the underbelly of the volatility complex. Since the VIX isn’t tradable, many products hold futures contracts on the gauge. Given their size, some participants say they can exert a large pull on the price of the assets they track, underscored by the spectacular collapse of ETNs linked to calm markets in February. Both long and short products buy and sell futures contracts on a daily basis to maintain their desired degree of exposure to implied equity volatility. That means a large one-way move in the VIX can dramatically increase the number of contracts they need to buy -- challenging liquidity and potentially driving the price of futures higher, according to Edwards. Cboe Global Markets Inc. didn’t immediately respond to an email request seeking comment. It has recently outlined changes to the monthly auction for the VIX settlement. Scenarios For the Houndstooth strategy to pay off, VIX futures need to lose two-thirds of their value in a single day. That, in theory, would be enough to send the price of the 1.5-times leveraged UVXY to zero. “Even if VIX futures gained 200 percent or even 10,000 percent in a single day, a one-day decline of 66 percent makes UVXY worth $0 regardless of how high it climbed,” Edwards said. Of course, the grip ETFs assert on VIX futures likely diminished after February, as products either closed or shrank, while several ProShares ETFs reduced leverage, including UVXY, curbing their need to rebalance after sharp moves. And the scenario didn’t play out after the VIX’s record spike on Feb. 5. The next day, the volatility gauge slumped by one-fifth -- only enough to send UVXY down by a third for the day. Still, buying put options on the ETF rather than shorting it allows Houndstooth to limit potential losses on the trade, and there are a few scenarios that could lead to its success. Under one, the VIX spikes from its current level to 40. The next day, as panic eases, the gauge knifes back down, its movements exacerbated by long buyers rushing to cover positions, and by volatility products flooding the futures market to rebalance holdings. In another, the VIX could surge on bad-news speculation and then quickly reverse, producing a large enough intraday spike for the bet to pay off. Alternatively, the gauge could gradually climb higher -- only to deflate suddenly if favorable news emerges. Edwards believes volatility is poised to move higher as November’s U.S. congressional elections approach. “We’ll also see a third interest-rate hike, which will spark much more volatility than what we’re seeing now. Political uncertainty in Europe will continue causing major fits of volatility. Expect to see the VIX over 30 at least one more time this year,” he said. The Houndstooth investor concedes that a 6,000 percent return on the strategy is a tail scenario -- but one “that’s massively underappreciated and underpriced.”
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"A Sea Of Red": Global Stocks Plunge With Tech Shares In Freefall

While there was some nuance in yesterday's pre-open trading, with Asia at least putting up a valiant defense to what would soon become another US rout, this morning the market theme is far simpler: a global sea of red.

Stocks fell across the globe as worries over softening demand for the iPhone prompted a tech stock selloff across the world, while the arrest of car boss Carlos Ghosn pulled Nissan and Renault sharply lower. Even China's recent rally fizzled and the Shanghai composite closed down 2.1% near session lows, signalling that the global slump led by tech shares would deepen Tuesday, adding a new layer of pessimism to markets already anxious over trade. Treasuries advanced and the dollar edged higher.
S&P 500 futures traded near session lows, down 0.6% and tracking a fall in European and Asian shares after renewed weakness in the tech sector pushed Nasdaq futures sharply lower for a second day after Monday's 3% plunge and crippled any hopes for dip buying. News around Apple triggered the latest bout of stock market selling, after the Wall Street Journal reported the consumer tech giant is cutting production for its new iPhones.
Europe's Stoxx 600 Index dropped a fifth day as its technology sector fell 1.3% to the lowest level since February 2017, taking the decline from mid-June peak to 21% and entering a bear market. Not surprisingly, the tech sector was the worst performer on the European benchmark on Tuesday, following Apple’s decline to near bear-market territory and U.S. tech stocks plunge during recent sell-off. The selloff was compounded by an auto sector drop led by Nissan and Renault after Ghosn, chairman of both carmakers, was arrested in Japan for alleged financial misconduct. The European auto sector was not far behind, dropping 1.6 percent, and the broad European STOXX 600 index was down 0.9 percent to a four-week low.
“Most of Europe had a red session yesterday and that has been compounded by the news on Apple and tech stocks overnight, The overall climate is risk off,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw. “Beyond stocks, the Italian bonds spread (over German bonds) is at its widest in about a month now, and Brexit continues to rumble on - uncertainty is very much hurting risk sentiment,” he added.
Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.2 percent, with Samsung Electronics falling 2 percent. In Japan, Sony Corp shed 3.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei slipped 1.1 percent, with shares of Nissan Motor Co tumbling more than 5% after Ghosn’s arrest and on news he will be fired from the board this week.
Meanwhile, as noted yesterday, the CDS index of US investment grade issuers blew out to the widest level since the Trump election, signaling renewed nerves about the asset class.

Exactly two months after the S&P hit all time highs, stocks have been caught in a vicious decline and continue to struggle for support as some of the technology companies that helped drive the S&P 500 to a record high earlier this year tumbled amid a slowdown in consumer sales and fears over regulation, many of them entering a bear market.
At the same time, a more gloomy macro outlook is emerging, with Goldman chief equity strategist David kostin overnight recommending investors hold more cash even as it reiterated its base case of S&P 3000 in 2019.

Ray Dalio disagreed, and said that investors should expect low returns for a long time after enjoying years of low interest rates from central-bank stimulus.
“The easy days of long, global bull markets where you can invest in a tracker for five basis points -- I say this as an active fund manager -- and watch the thing go up, I think those days are gone,” Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Barclays Bank PLC and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It’s going to be a move back to value investing, and back to the Warren Buffett-style of investment.”
In the latest Brexit news, UK PM May is reportedly drawing up secret plans to drop the Irish border backstop and win support from angry Brexiteers, while reports added PM May has received agreement from the EU to drop the backstop plan if both sides can agree on alternative arrangements to keep the border open. Meanwhile, Brexiteers reportedly still lack the sufficient number of signatures required to trigger a no-confidence vote against UK PM May, the FT reported. In related news, Brexit rebels reportedly admitted attempts to oust PM May has stalled as Eurosceptic MPs turned on each other. The Telegraph also reported that the confidence vote now appears to be on hold until after Parliament votes in December on Mrs May's Brexit deal.
Sky News reported that the UK government are to publish new analysis before the MPs’ meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement comparing the “costs and benefits” of Brexit. The impact of three scenarios will be measured; no Brexit, no deal, and leaving with the government's draft deal and a free trade agreement.
In rates, Treasuries rose, driving the 10-year yield down to its lowest level since late September, ahead of Thanksgiving Thursday. Italian government bond yields jumped to one-month high on Tuesday and Italian banking stocks dropped to a two-year low, hurt by risk aversion and concerns over the Italian budget. Euro zone money markets no longer fully price in even a 10 bps rate rise from the European Central Bank in 2019, indicating growing investor concern about the economic outlook in the currency bloc.
In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index whipsawed in early London trading even as it stayed near a more than one-week low on concern cooling global growth will slow the pace of Fed rate hikes, keeping Treasury yields under pressure. At the same time, the pound stabilized as Theresa May appealed to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal, and evidence mounted that a plot to oust her as U.K. Prime Minister is faltering.
The euro slid as Italian bonds dropped, pushing the yield spread to Germany to the widest in a month; the currency had opened the London session higher, supported by corporate buying in EUGBP. The yen rallied to a month-to-date high as Asian stocks followed a U.S. equity slide while the New Zealand dollar got a boost from a jump in milk production; the Aussie was on the back foot even after the RBA said Australia’s unemployment rate could fall further in the near term. India’s rupee rallied a sixth day after the central bank signaled a compromise with the government in their dispute over reserves.
Bitcoin extended its drop below $4,500 for the first time since October 2017.
WTI crude oil futures hovered around $57 a barrel after oil prices lost steam as fears about slower global demand and a surge in U.S. production outweighed expected supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Brent crude slipped 0.9 percent to $66.21 per barrel.
In other overnight news, BoJ Governor Kuroda said there is currently no need to ease further, while he added that there was a need for bold monetary policy in 2013 and now we need to persistently continue with policy. Furthermore, Kuroda suggested that the chance of reaching the 2% inflation target during FY2020 is low. Japanese PM Abe says the next initial budget is to have measures to address sales tax.
India's Finance Ministry sources expect that the RBI will stand pat on rates at its meeting next month.
RBA Governor Lowe states that steady policy is to be maintained for 'a while yet' and it is likely that rates will increase at some point if the economy progresses as expected.
Expected data include housing starts and building permits. Best Buy, Campbell Soup, Lowe’s, Medtronic, Target, TJX, and Gap are among companies reporting earnings.
Market Snapshot
Top Overnight News
Asian stock markets were lower across the board as the risk averse tone rolled over from Wall St, where the tech sector led the sell-off as Apple shares dropped nearly 4% on reports it had reduced production orders and with all FAANG stocks now in bear market territory. As such, the tech sector underperformed in the ASX 200 (-0.4%) and Nikkei 225 (-1.1%) was also pressured with Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan among the worst hit after their Chairman Ghosn was arrested on financial misconduct allegations. Shanghai Comp. (-2.1%) and Hang Seng (-2.0%) were heavily pressured after the PBoC continued to snub liquidity operations and as China’s blue-chip tech names conformed to the global rout in the sector, while JD.com earnings added to the glum as China’s 2nd largest e-commerce firm posted its weakest revenue growth since turning public. Finally, 10yr JGBs were weaker amid profit taking after futures recently hit their highest in around a year and following mixed results at today’s 20yr auction.
Top Asian News - BlackRock Doesn’t Expect Significant Growth Slowdown in China - China Stocks Lead Global Losses as Tech Rout Hits Fragile Market - Stock Traders in Asia Keep Finding New Reasons to Hit ’Sell’ - World’s Largest Ikea to Open in Manila as Company Bets on Asia
Major European indices are largely in the red, with the SMI outperforming (+0.1%) which is being bolstered by Novartis (+1.0%) following their announcement of a joint digital treatment with Pear Therapeutics for substance abuse disorder. The DAX (-0.7%) is lagging its peers, weighed on by Wirecard (-5.0%) following a disappointing change to guidance forecasting as well as weak sentiment across IT names after the FAANG stocks entered bear market territory on Wall St. In particular, the Stoxx 600 Technology sector (-1.9%), dropped to its lowest level since Feb 2017. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank (-2.5%) are in the red due to reports that the Co processed payments for Danske Bank in Estonia.
Top European News
In FX, the DXY index remains technically prone to further downside pressure having closed below another Fib support level yesterday and testing the next bearish chart area around 96.050-10 ahead of 96.000 even. However, a more concerted bout of risk-off trade/positioning saved the DXY and broad Dollar from steeper declines as the tech-induced sell-off in stocks intensified, and jitters over Brexit alongside the Italian budget returned to the fore.
NZD/AUD - The Kiwi is bucking the overall trend and outperforming in contrast to this time on Monday, with Nzd/Usd rebounding firmly to 0.6850+ levels and Aud/Nzd retreating through 1.0650 to just south of 1.0600 following overnight data showing a hefty 6.5% y/y rise in NZ milk collections for October. Conversely, the Aud/Usd has slipped back under 0.7300 again, and close to 0.7250 in wake of RBA minutes underscoring no rush to hike rates and subsequent affirmation of wait-and-see guidance from Governor Lowe. In fact, he asserts that the jobless rate could decline to 4.5% vs 5% at present without inducing wage inflation, while also underlining concerns about the supply of credit.
JPY/CHF - Both benefiting from their more intrinsic allure during periods of pronounced risk aversion and investor angst, as Usd/Jpy probes a bit deeper below 112.50 and a key Fib at 112.46 that could be pivotal on a closing basis with potential to expose daily chart support circa 112.16 ahead of 112.00. Meanwhile, the Franc has inched closer to 0.9900 and over 1.1350 vs the Eur that remains burdened with the aforementioned Italian fiscal concerns.
GBP/EUR - Almost a case of déjà vu for Sterling and the single currency as early attempts to the upside vs the Greenback saw Cable and EuUsd revisit recent peaks around 1.2880 and 1.1470 respectively, but a combination of chart resistance and bearish fundamentals forced both back down to circa 1.2825 and 1.1425. In terms of precise technical/psychological levels, 1.2897 and 1.1445 represent Fib retracements, ahead of 1.2900 and 1.1500, while the Pound has remained relatively unchanged and unresponsive to largely on the fence pending Brexit rhetoric from the BoE in testimony to the TSC on November’s QIR.
In commodities, gold has stayed within a USD 5/oz range and traded relatively flat throughout the session moving with the steady dollar ahead of US Thanksgiving. Similarly, copper traded lacklustre breaking a 5-day rally because of a subdued risk sentiment stemming from ongoing US-China trade tensions; with Shanghai rebar adversely affected from these factors. Brent (-0.1%) and WTI (+0.2%) are following a relatively quiet overnight session, while recent upticks in the complex resulted in WTI reclaiming the USD 57/bbl and Brent edging closer to USD 67/bbl. This follows comments from IEA Chief Birol that Iranian oil exports declined by almost 1mln BPD from summer peaks. Looking ahead, traders will be keeping the weekly API crude inventory data which is expected to print a build of 8.79mln barrels.
On today's light data calendar, in the US, there should be some interest in the October housing starts and building permits data, especially following Fed Chair Powell’s recent comments acknowledging a slowdown in the housing market and yesterday’s homebuilder data. Away from that, the BoE’s Carney is due to appear before the Parliament’s Treasury Committee to discuss the Inflation Report, while the ECB’s Nouy and Bundesbank’s Weidmann are both scheduled to speak at separate events.
US Event Calendar
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
With the sell-off of the last 24 hours we have now traded through the last of our YE 2018 top level credit spread forecasts as US HY widened 6bps to +424bps (YE 2018 forecast was 420). We still think US HY is the most expensive part of the EUR & US credit universe but as discussed above, last night we’ve become more optimistic on all credit in the near-term after what has been the worst week of the year. Credit massively under-performed equities last week but equities caught up on the downside yesterday. The sell-off was underpinned by the FANG names selling off, an accounting scandal emerging at Nissan, oil swinging around and the US housing market spooked by weak data.
Just on the market moves first, the NASDAQ and NYFANG indexes slumped -3.03% and -4.28% yesterday, registering their fourth and third worst days of the year, respectively. Facebook and Apple fell -5.72% and -3.96% respectively, as the sector remains pressured amid a slew of negative PR and the spectre of stricter government regulation. Over the weekend, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview that “the free market is not working” and that new regulation is “inevitable”. This negatively impacted highly-valued social media companies. Twitter and Snapchat traded down -5.02% and -6.78% respectively. The tech sector was further pressured after the WSJ reported that Apple had cut production orders in recent weeks for the new model iPhones, with chipmakers broadly trading lower and Philadelphia semiconductor index shedding -3.86%. The S&P 500 and DOW also slumped -1.66% and -1.56% respectively while in Europe the STOXX 600 turned an early gain of +0.71% into a loss of -0.73%. In credit, cash markets were 2bps and 11bps wider for Euro IG and HY and 2bps and 6bps in the US. CDX IG and HY were, however, 3bps and 11bps wider, respectively. Elsewhere, WTI oil first tested breaking through $55/bbl yesterday, after Russia stopped short of committing to supply cuts, before recovering to close +0.52% at $56.76.
Bond markets were relatively quiet, with Treasuries and Bunds ending -0.4bps and +0.6bps, respectively, albeit masking bigger intraday moves. BTP yields rose +10.6bps to 3.597%, within 10 basis points of their recent closing peak, as rhetoric between Italian officials and their European peers continued to intensify. Finance Ministers from Austria and the Netherlands separately spoke publicly about their concerns, and expressed their hope that the European Commission will loyally enforce the fiscal rules. Italian Finance Minister Tria tried to calm conditions by framing the disagreement as relatively minor, though he also accused the Commission of being biased against expansionary policies, which he argued are needed to avert a macro slowdown.
Back to credit, as we highlighted yesterday, the recent weakness in the asset class has become a talking point for broader markets and while our view is now that value is starting to emerge, there are an increasing number of idiosyncratic stories plaguing the market. There were a couple more examples yesterday with the aforementioned story about Nissan removing its chairman after being arrested for violations of financial law. This caused Renault’s CDS to widen +25.0bps (equity down -8.43%), while Vallourec bonds dropped 15pts after falling 11pts on Friday as concerns mount about the company’s rising leverage in the wake of recent results. Like we’ve see in equity markets, it does feel like credits are now getting punished with sharp moves in the wake of negative headlines Certainly something to watch, but as we said above, credit is now much more attractively priced than it has been for some time.
From steel tubing to Downing Street, where we’ve actually had a rare temporary lull for Brexit headlines over the last 24 hours, although behind the scenes it does look we’re getting closer to the threshold for a confidence vote in PM May with the Times yesterday reporting that “senior Brexiteers” had told reporters that they had “firm pledges” from over 50 MPs to submit letters. As a reminder, 48 are needed to trigger the process. Looking further out, yesterday DB’s Oliver Harvey published a report arguing that there is still a path towards an orderly Brexit based on the existing Withdrawal Agreement should May survive a confidence vote. This path is provided by the political declaration on the future economic relationship. The latter has yet to be negotiated, and as the EU27 and UK recognise in the joint statement, the existing temporary customs arrangement (TCA) already provides a basis for a future economic relationship. Oli argues that the UK should push for the political declaration on the future relationship to explicitly commit the UK to a form of Brexit that might be described as “Norway plus.” The temporary customs arrangement would become permanent, but under the governance framework of UK membership of the EEA and EFT. The UK should tie the political declaration on the future relationship to the good faith clause in the existing Withdrawal Agreement, meaning that if negotiations were not pursued on these lines after the transition period had begun, the UK could withhold payments from the EU27. This would help to allay concerns from across the political divide that the UK would be “trapped” in a sub optimal customs union with the EU27.
Meanwhile, to complicate matters, Bloomberg has reported that the EU is mulling over issuing a series of separate statements on Brexit on Sunday, in addition to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. This comes after pressure from some EU countries not to appease any additional UK demands. Elsewhere, the SUN has reported that the PM May has drawn up a secret plan to scrap the Irish backstop arrangement in an attempt to win over angry Tory Brexiteers after a meeting with them yesterday. However, if a mutually agreeable solution couldn’t be found over the last couple of years, it seems tough to imagine one was finally found yesterday afternoon. We’ll see.
Further adding to the complexity of where Brexit heads, last night the DUP abstained on the UK finance bill, which implements the budget. This stops short of their prior threat to actively vote against the legislation, but is still a surprise and signals that further political turbulence between PM May and the DUP is likely. The bill only just scraped through. Sterling finished +0.14% yesterday and this morning is trading flattish (+0.02%) in early trade.
Sentiment more broadly in Asia is following Wall Street’s lead with almost all markets trading in a sea of red. The Nikkei (-1.25%, with Nissan Motors down as much as -5.41% and Mitsubishi Motors -6.71%), Hang Seng (-1.84%), Shanghai Comp (-1.63%) and Kospi (-0.96%) are all down along with most other markets. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (-0.29%) are extending losses as we type.
Back to yesterday, where as we mentioned at the top, weak US homebuilder sentiment survey data played its part in the moves for markets. The November NAHB housing market index tumbled to 60 from 68 in October after expectations had been for just a 1pt drop. That’s the lowest reading since August 2016 and biggest one-month drop since February 2014. The details weren’t much better and falls into line with the expectation of a softer outlook for housing. As you’ll see in the day ahead we’ve got more housing data in the US today so worth keeping an eye on even if the October data for starts could be distorted by Hurricane Michael.
As far as the day ahead is concerned, we’re fairly light on data today with Q3 employment stats in France, October PPI in Germany and November CBI total orders data in the UK the only releases of note. In the US, there should be some interest in the October housing starts and building permits data, especially following Fed Chair Powell’s recent comments acknowledging a slowdown in the housing market and yesterday’s homebuilder data. Away from that, the BoE’s Carney is due to appear before the Parliament’s Treasury Committee to discuss the Inflation Report, while the ECB’s Nouy and Bundesbank’s Weidmann are both scheduled to speak at separate events.
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The Big Bet Against Italian Banks

Authored by Alex Kimani via SafeHaven.com,
The eurozone’s third-largest economy, Italy, is marooned in a deep political and economic crisis, with seeming endless problems: an economy that has barely grown in decades, sky-high unemployment rates, ballooning national debt, an inability to form a stable coalition government and, lately, a looming showdown with the EU over mounting debt.
These have precipitated a wave of populism that has rejected the old establishment and brought in a new guard.
Unfortunately, that has done little to resolve another Italian bugaboo: a massive banking crisis.
European banks have accumulated about $1.2 trillion in bad and non-performing loans (NPLs) that have continued weighing down heavily on their balance sheets. Italian banks are sitting on the biggest pile of bad debt: €224.2B ($255.9B), with NPLs and advances making up nearly a quarter of all loans.

(Click to enlarge)_Source: Bloomberg_As if that is not bad enough, the banks now have to contend with potentially heavy penalties coming from Brussels after Italy’s recalcitrant leadership refused to revise the country’s fiscal 2019 budget to lower debt and borrowing.The sharks can already smell the blood in the water, and investors have been shorting Italian banking stocks to death. Italian banks hold nearly a fifth of the country’s government bonds.

(Click to enlarge)Source: ReutersShort sellers have mainly been targeting medium-sized lenders as well as asset manager Banca Mediolanum and investment bank Mediobanca. According to FIS Astec Analytics data, the volume of these banks’ shares on loan—a good proxy for short interest—has shot to its highest in 15 months.
Short interest on Mediolanum’s shares now stands at 8.7 percent of outstanding shares, while Mediobanca has 15 percent of its shares sold short.

Rome Refuses To Back Down

Investors seem justified in their pessimism on the Italian banking sector - if the latest developments are any indication.
A month ago, the European Commission rejected Italy’s 2019 budget on grounds that it flouted EU requirements and Italy’s commitment to lower its expanding budget deficit. The latest budget hiked the deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP--way higher than the targeted 1.8 percent this year. Meanwhile, total debt sits at a staggering 130 percent of GDP, the fourth highest in the world. The EC rules are clear: national debt should be maintained below 60 percent of GDP while deficit should not exceed three percent of GDP
Italy's deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, however, has sent strong signals that the country will not back down from the current budget or revise it to satisfy EU requirements. He has even accused the bloc of "hypocrisy and double standards.’’
Speaking to France24 on Tuesday, Mr. Salvini balked at the whole idea saying:
"Who has complied with rules in the past? Not Germany, not France, not Spain. Spain had an average deficit way above the rules. It’s double standards. What is 2.4? That is the point." Although Mr. Salvini is right in his assessment that the commission has allowed exceptions to the rules in the past (including in 2016 when it turned a blind eye to France’s debt prompting EC president to famously quip "France is France"), not reacting [to Italy] is not an option, as Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of EC advisory firm, Teneo Intelligence, has noted.

The Moment of Truth

Some Italian politicians have been seeking curbs on the short selling in a bid to prevent a rise in bond yield spreads. While a ban on short-selling might alleviate short-term selling pressure, the moment of truth always arrives in the end... determined by underlying fundamentals. The continuing challenges on the Italian banking sector directly affects returns on shareholder equity, and will continue to reflect on share prices:

(Click to enlarge)
Source: Reuters
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