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Nomura’s McElligott Flags Potential For Major Inflection Away From Legacy CTA Bond Long

"This would drive mechanical selling flows from what has been one of the largest 'gross $ exposure' positions in the model all year".

Developed market bond yields have risen sharply off the August lows amid optimism on trade, movement on Brexit and generalized hopes that rate cuts and dovish forward guidance may be about to manifest themselves in better growth and inflation outcomes.

It’s also crucial to remember that the plunge in bond yields that defined August was something of a false optic.

During a client presentation late that month, JPMorgan’s Josh Younger documented the extent to which fundamentals explained “less than half of the move in rates and inversion of the yield curve”. On his estimates, the rally in bonds was attributable to a “combination of positioning, hedging activity and poor liquidity conditions”.

The bank’s Marko Kolanovic reiterated that in a note out Monday.

“The move in bond yields in August (down) was magnified by the trade war escalation, but also by technical moves such as interest rates option hedging, mortgage hedging, insurance liability hedging, CTA crowding into bonds, and momentum crowding and rebalances of equity quants”, he remarked, on the way to reminding everyone that those drivers “can also work in reverse, which started happening this September and is likely to continue”.

Well, on Tuesday, Nomura’s Charlie McElligott is out with some additional color on the CTA side of things.

“Within Bonds, we are nearing the potential for a pivot in the 2019 legacy ‘Long TY’ position held in our CTA Trend model—as we are now projecting the 3m window to flip ‘short’ in 4 days”, Charlie wrote, in a note just before lunchtime on Tuesday.

Critically, the 3m window is the largest weighting in the model. Here are the specifics:

Our CTA model uses 5 look-back tenors across which we have an aggregated ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ signal across the accumulated windows—and as of right now, the 3m window now has now become the most “loaded” input at 57.8% of the overall weighting.

Obviously, if the largest weighing flips, that will have an outsized impact on the aggregate signal.

This is, potentially anyway, a very notable development. As you can imagine, the CTA position in bonds has been maxed out long for most of this year amid the voracious rally/inexorable decline in yields.

“The signal is ‘long’ while the actual gross exposure to the trade moves up or down via leverage deployment and per the vol- and price trend- signal”, McElligott writes, adding that for context, the overall TY position hasn’t been “short” since November 30th of last year, which he reminds you was before the narrative pivoted decisively towards the notion that the Fed had, in fact, tightened the economy into a slowdown, which in turn contributed to the massive risk-off sentiment that dominated December, the worst month for US equities since the Great Depression.  

(Nomura QIS)

So, looking ahead, Charlie notes that “if today’s price level was held constant looking out 4 days from today, the current legacy ‘+100% Long’ signal in TY [would] flip to a ‘-15.5% SHORT’ position”.

As you can see from the visual, that’s on account of the 3m window pivoting due in no small part to a couple of big “up” days for 10-year futures falling out of the calculation.

What does that mean? Well, potentially it could add to the bearish impulse in bonds, in line with what Kolanovic alluded to on Monday when he mentioned “CTA crowding”, “momentum crowding” and the possibility for the drivers which pushed yields sharply lower in August to “work in reverse”.

“This would drive mechanical selling / de-leveraging flows from what has been one of the largest ‘gross $ exposure’ positions in the model all year”, McElligott said Tuesday.


 

3 comments on “Nomura’s McElligott Flags Potential For Major Inflection Away From Legacy CTA Bond Long

  1. vicissitude

    As the S&P 500 crawled its way to a new record, some of the smartest investors were creeping to the exit. Coming into this week, market-neutral quants had cut their gross stock allocations to the lowest in nearly five years, according to data compiled by Credit Suisse Group AG’s prime brokerage.

    The market-neutral cohort, which take no directional bets on the benchmark, eked out a return of 1% in the nine months through September, compared with 6% for hedge funds overall. They recorded some $3.9 billion of outflows in the period, taking total assets to $66 billion, Eurekahedge data show.

    “It looks nice — the market’s up 20%, but it’s been a wild ride underneath the covers,” said Mark Connors, global head of risk advisory at Credit Suisse in New York. “The factor path has been unpredictable.”

  2. vicissitude

    Recent random Entertaining find related to playing the VIX and or the markets

    ===> You can see here that the instances of being ‘underwater’ or much more frequent and evenly spaced than the amount of time that you are equity highs, leading to that too often feeling (as Carlson points out) that your investment portfolio just isn’t getting the job done. In fact, over the past 25 years (since Jan 1994), stocks have been at all time highs just 34% of the time, while in some sort of drawdown the rest of the time (64%).

    https://www.rcmalternatives.com/2019/10/what-is-seen-more-often-all-time-highs-or-drawdowns/

  3. Investors sell UST while Fed buys TBL – yield curve steepens – equity valuations (mechanically) decline – long duration and highly levered companies suffer – banks benefit

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