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Nomura’s McElligott On China’s ‘7 Deadly Sins’ And ‘Massively Skewed’ Investor Flows

"The 'partial' trade deal story was floated into the ether last week" to an underwhelming market "meh".

Late last week, in the course of detailing both the mechanics behind the Tuesday-Wednesday rout in US/European equities and the case for the bounce which played out to fairly dramatic effect on Friday, we went back over the familiar dynamics which often contribute to exaggerated price action.

The emphasis was on option hedging dynamics and CTA flows. Earlier in the week, Nomura’s Charlie McElligott cautioned that “US Equities were very much in the crosshairs of CTA deleveraging… which then triggered mechanical ‘accelerant flows’ that moved us deeper into a more extreme dealer ‘Short Gamma’ positioning”.

On Friday, JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic wrote that in addition to “large CTA reversals from long to short… the significant recent increase of put options outstanding caught dealers significantly short gamma”. Between CTA deleveraging and option hedging flows, Marko estimated systematic, technical selling at more than ~$100bn in a 48-hour period. He also predicted that those flows would reverse on Friday to spark a rally, which they did.

Read more: Marko Kolanovic, Charlie McElligott See Scope For Market Bounce After Quant Flow-Driven Rout

In that linked post, we cited a SocGen volatility outlook piece from last month in which the bank noted that most large daily moves in stocks (where “large” means magnitudes bigger than 1.5%) since May came “when the previous day’s aggregate gamma estimate was negative”. Here’s the chart they used.

(SocGen)

Last week’s selloff fits that description.

Well, on Tuesday, Nomura’s McElligott is out underscoring the point in a brief note touching on the evolving trade dispute which is the very definition of “fluid” right now.

“The ‘partial’ trade deal story was floated into the ether last week, and only generated a ‘meh’ market response, because most realize that there is no substance if a deal doesn’t address ‘the seven deadly sins'”, he writes, in a characteristically colorful passage. Here are those “7 deadly sins”:

  1. IP theft,
  2. forced tech transfer,
  3. hacking,
  4. dumping,
  5. subsidies for SOEs,
  6. fentanyl and,
  7. currency manipulation

Recent news flow suggests that China has narrowed the scope of any possible deal and is not willing to budge on subsidies or IP theft (see here and here).

“Nonetheless and DANGEROUSLY, I would say that investors CONTINUE to expect a DELAY to the new tranche of US tariffs in order to keep discussions at least partially ‘thawed'”, Charlie continues. That, he says, “means there remains significant downside risk still from here if we do NOT see the expected delay come to pass”.

After delivering some additional macro color, Charlie updates the daisy-chained, “knock-on” “crash” hedges story. “[The] US equities market is massively under-pricing ‘upside’ breakout potential, as ‘growth scare’, trade skepticism [and] US election risk skews investor flows and the ensuing dealer ‘crash’ hedge knock-on massively towards downside protection”, he writes, on the way to noting that the market is “shifting implied SPX outcomes the ‘wrong way'”:

(Nomura)

Finally, he delivers the following visual, which is an even more poignant illustration of the extent to which “this stuff matters” so to speak, when it comes to all of the dynamics mentioned here at the outset and documented here exhaustively last week (and every other week when the price action is some semblance of dramatic):

(Nomura)

US equities careened lower in morning trading Tuesday amid a series of negative trade headlines, lackluster economic data and more political drama from D.C. to London to Ankara.


 

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4 comments on “Nomura’s McElligott On China’s ‘7 Deadly Sins’ And ‘Massively Skewed’ Investor Flows

  1. “The ‘partial’ trade deal story was floated into the ether last week, and only generated a ‘meh’ market response, because most realize that there is no substance if a deal doesn’t address ‘the seven deadly sins’”. I don’t think stocks care about any of the “deadly sins” except to the extent that they could derail a deal that rolls back tariffs and ag purchase cuts.

  2. I’m convinced that gamma positioning matters, at least in determining the magnitude of short-term moves. For us plebes who lack a Bloomberg terminal and analyst subscriptions, is anyone aware of a publically available, reasonably up-to-date source of gamma estimates? A data feed from an exchange, perhaps? Or do I need to wait for my semiweekly H fix of twice-distilled colorful commentary?

    I’ll keep reading in any case! But it would be interesting to track some of this data on my own. Alas, my charting tools of choice (tradeview and koyfin) don’t know diddly squat about derivatives.

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