Friday, October 10, 2008
Enough is enough.
Markets are completely imploding, both in terms of price and liquidity. When the FTSE future opens 11% lower (!), that's not a market, it's a financial Chernobyl. And unless you're equipped with the proper equipment to deal with hazardous waste, you're best advised to flee the area.
We have now reached the point where even when you're right, you're wrong, in the sense of not being able to crystallize the P/L that you think you've made. At least that's the case for any type of option structure, judging by the quotes Macro Man has received over the past 48 hours. Of course, one can always opt for naked futures or spot exposure.....the problem, of course, is that being wrong leaves one open to virtually unlimited downside. Perhaps in the glory days of macro punters in the 1980's or 1990's, that sort of risk/reward was acceptable; these days, Macro Man would be surprised if any investors would allocate capital to a fund that isn't focused on managing the downside in this market.
And so Macro Man has decided to bid adieu to an old friend, his equity short position. Most major indices are down 20%-25% this month alone. While it is of course foolish to suggest that further downside is impossible, Macro Man now believes that prices are discounting a bone-crushing recession and could actually be cheap. At the same time, the Four Horsemen of the Investment Apocalypse- Risk Aversion, De-leveraging, Illiquidity, and Panic- stalk the land like hounds from the bowels of Hell.
Macro Man thought that the coordinated rate cut would shore up confidence and generate a decent bounce in equities. That opinion was wrong. Fortunately, he is paid to take investment decisions rather than render opinions; after going long at 12.01 on Wednesday, he was short again within the hour. However, the moves that we have seen over the last sixteen hours are enough. The strain of keeping track of every single development, every gut-wrenching reversal, and trying to extract as fair a price as possible for his positions has reached an extreme.
So, too, has bearish sentiment and interest in the market. The blog traffic-o-meter has literally leapt off the charts recently. Perhaps Macro Man's writing has improved or his insights become more accurate. More likely, however, is that visitors flock to financial websites during market extremes, much like rubberneckers gawk at a gruesome highway accident.
Macro Man observed yesterday that the Lehman CDS settlement could serve as some sort of market flashpoint or the apotheosis of the Four Horsemen, and that indeed looks likely to be the case. Macro Man really has no idea what the next 48 hours of trading will hold, nor the weekend that splits today from Monday.
So he has decided to ring the register, take the "opportunity profit" hit and close just about all of his bets on near-term market direction, and re-charge the mental batteries. He has an 11.46 tee time today and the Blackberry will be left at home. De-risking: it's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely.