18 September 2008

VIX Suggests Going Long Because of, Not in Spite of, the Panicky Markets

Have we achieved a market bottom, at least in the short-term?

Bespoke has some thoughts on this:

Below we highlight a chart of the VIX index that measures volatility. As shown below, today's spike to 35 would mark the highest closing price since late 2002. People have been waiting for this spike to signal a short-term bottom, but while this is the highest level of the current bear market, it got well into the 40s back in '98 and the early 2000s.

Actually, by the end of the day, the VIX had crossed 36.

Anticipating the possibility that we may have hit bottom, albeit temporarily, I am slowly building up some long positions while everyone else seems to be panicking and selling.

Today, I added to my ultra-long financials position (UYG) in oh-so-a-contrarian manner at $17.39 and at $16.49, bringing the cost basis of that position down to $17.48. And re-logging into my trading account with minutes to spare in the trading day, I bought some shares of the ultra-long S&P500 ETF (SSO) at 3:59pm for $49.64.

Today's relevant tune is "Relative Surplus Value" by the Weakerthans. The particularly poignant lyrics are below. They work better with the music playing, with the pauses and rhythmic breaks stressing certain lyrics over others:
I touch my name-tag, should say, "HELLO I'M too tired to smile today," squeak the chair once, take a deep breath, straighten my tie and say, "What's the damage?" The pause feels like an extra year of high-school. The CEO takes me aside. I'm down 12 points, and they're selling. The graphs in the boardroom show by the time the market opens in Tokyo I'll be worthless.

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