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The Second Leg Down: Strategies for Profiting after a Market Sell-Off

ISBN: 978-1-119-21908-8
208 pages
April 2017
The Second Leg Down: Strategies for Profiting after a Market Sell-Off (1119219086) cover image


Cut risk and generate profit even after the market drops

The Second Leg Down offers practical approaches to profiting after a market event. Written by a specialist in global macro, volatility and hedging overlay strategies, this book provides in-depth insight into surviving in a volatile environment. Historical back tests and scenario diagrams illustrate a variety of strategies for offsetting portfolio risks with after-the-fact options hedging, and the discussion explores how a mixture of trend following and contrarian futures strategies can be beneficial. Without a rational analysis-based approach, investors often find themselves having to cut risk and buy protection just as options are at their most over-priced. This book provides practical strategies, expert analysis and the knowledge base to assist you in recovering your portfolio.

Hedging strategies are often presented as expensive and unnecessary, especially during a bull market. When equity indices and other unstable assets drop, they find themselves stuck – hedging is now at its most expensive, but it is imperative to hedge or face liquidation. This book shows you how to salvage the situation, with strategies backed by expert analysis.

  • Identify the right hedges during high volatility
  • Generate attractive risk-adjusted returns
  • Learn new strategies for offsetting risk
  • Know your options for when losses have already occurred

Imagine this scenario: you've incurred significant losses, you're approaching risk limits, you must cut risk immediately, yet slashing positions would damage the portfolio – what do you do? The Second Leg Down is your emergency hotline, with practical strategies for dire conditions.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgements xiii

About the Author xv

CHAPTER 1 Introduction 1

The Airplane Ticket Trade 1

The Bull Cycle 2

The Renegades 3

Claws of the Bear 3

Zugzwang 4

The Sceptics 5

A Sad Truth 5

Common Mistakes 6

Imprecise but Effective 7

Hedging Against Implausible Scenarios 8

A Black Swan in Correlation 8

Taking Profits 8

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 9

The Great Escape 9

Having a Plan 10

Trend Following as a Defensive Strategy 11

Taking the Offensive 12

The Pre-Conditions for Market Crises 12

Banks: The Great Multiplier 13

A Change in Risk Regime 13

CHAPTER 2 “Safe” Havens and the Second Leg Down 14

The Matterhorn 15

Mrs. Watanabe’s No. 1 Investment Club 18

The Risk of What Others are Holding 19

The Risk of What Others are Likely to Do 22

Here We Go Again 24

Summary 28

CHAPTER 3 An Overview of Options Strategies 29

The Building Blocks: Calls and Puts 29

Why Buy a Call or Put? 34

The Black–Scholes Equation and Implied Volatility 36

The Implied Volatility Skew 38

Hedging Small Moves 38

Delta Hedging: The Idealised Case 39

Practical Limits of Delta Hedging 41

Hedging Options with Other Options 43

Put and Call Spreads 43

Straddles and Strangles 44

The Deformable Sheet 46

Skew Dynamics for Risky Assets 48

The 1×2 Ratio Spread and Its Relatives 50

The Batman Trade 53

Implied Correlation and the Equity Index Skew 56

From Ratios to Butterflies 59

Calendar Spreads 65

Summary 67

CHAPTER 4 Hedging the Wings 68

Taking the Other Side of the 1×2 68

Comparing the 25 and 10 Delta Puts 69

Hedging Sovereign Bond Risk 78

Selling Put Ratio Spreads on the S&P 500 83

The Hypothetical Implied Distribution 83

Our Findings So Far 84

Back-Tests: A Cautionary Note 84

A Short Digression: Delta-Neutral or Comfortably Balanced? 87

The 665 Put 87

Implications of the Square Root Strategy 88

Futures vs Spot 89

A Dramatic Example 89

A Cross-Sectional Study 91

The “New” VIX: Model-Independent, Though Not Particularly Intuitive 94

The Spot VIX: Oasis or Mirage? 94

Migrating to VIX Options 98

Reflections on Figure 4.36 101

Migrating to Different Markets: The V2X 103

Risk-Regime Analysis 104

Conditional Performance of Hedging Strategies 106

Summary 109

CHAPTER 5 The Long and the Short of It 110

Short-Dated Options 110

The Physicists Weigh In 112

Buying Time 117

Long-Dated Options 119

Far from the Madding Crowd 121

R Minus D 122

The Lumberjack Plot 125

Selective Application of the Weekly Options Strategy 126

Summary 127

CHAPTER 6 Trend Following as a Portfolio Protection Strategy 128

What is Trend Following? 128

Trend Following Dogma 130

The Crisis Alpha Debate 131

An Aside: Diversifying Across Time 134

Taking Advantage of a Correction 135

The Niederhoffer Argument 135

Chasing 1-Day Moves 138

Pushing the Analogy Too Far 139

Analysing the Data Directly 141

LEGO Trend Following 142

Summary 143

CHAPTER 7 Strategies for Taking Advantage of a Market Drop 144

The Elastic Band 144

Trading Reversals 147

More Texas-Style Hedging 149

Selling Index Put Spreads 151

Breathing Some Life into the Equity Risk Premium 152

Buying VIX Puts 153

Selling VIX Upside 154

The Remarkable Second Moment 155

Summary 158

CHAPTER 8 “Flash Crashes”, Crises and the Limits of Prediction 159

Lord of the Fireflies 159

Cascading Sales 160

A Concrete Example 162

An Aside 162

Paths, Prints 163

The Role of the Central Bank 164

Credit Cycles at the Zero Bound 164

The Monetary Policy Palette 165

Reading the Tea Leaves 168

Summary and Conclusion 169




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Author Information

HARI P. KRISHNAN, PHD, is a fund manager at Cross-Border Capital, where he runs systematic macro and volatility strategies. Cross-Border is a London-based hedge fund with roughly US$300 million in assets. He previously managed a CTA for a London-based asset management boutique, and he was an executive director and co-head of alternative asset allocation at Morgan Stanley (Chicago and London). In addition, Dr. Krishnan has worked as an options trading strategist and as a senior economist at the Chicago Board of Trade. He received a PhD in applied math from Brown University, and he was a post-doctoral research scientist at the Columbia Earth Institute, Columbia University, before moving into finance.

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