A Bull Case Is Forming Around Bearishness at Hedge Funds, Quants
Comment of the Day

May 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Bull Case Is Forming Around Bearishness at Hedge Funds, Quants

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The violent selloff has forced many systematic macro strategies, including trend followers and volatility-targeted funds, to slash equity holdings. Last week, their exposure fell to the bottom of a five-year range that even if stocks resume selling, their unwinding would be relatively subdued, according to Morgan Stanley. 

For instance, should the S&P 500 drop 5% in one day, the cohort would need to offload less than $20 billion of stocks in the follow week, analysts including Christopher Metli estimated. That’s down from an expected disposal of over $100 billion at the start of the year.

Goldman’s long/short hedge fund clients saw their gross leverage falling 12 percentage points during the week through Wednesday, the largest reduction over comparable periods sine at least 2016, according to data compiled by analysts including Vincent Lin. 

Light positioning by hedge funds and quants is among indicators watched by Goldman’s Scott Rubner to determine whether investors have capitulated. With cash holdings elevated in mutual funds and day traders retreating, one missing ingredient to call the all-clear is a reduction of stocks in US household holdings and retirement accounts, he says.

“Tracking this cohort is my single and most important focus from the lows here,” he wrote in a note last week. “We have not capitulated, it is very slow on the way out.” 

Eoin Treacy's view

There is still a great deal of uncertainty about the trajectory of monetary policy and the continuing impact of the war in Ukraine. The challenge for investors is to determine if this has been adequately priced in by the pullback to date.

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