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- Cme e Mini Stock Index Futures and Options Product Overview
- Stock Option Agreement (Corporation to Optionee)
- Notice: Order of Suspension of Trading: Boston Stock Exchange, Inc.
- Notice: Securities: Suspension of trading— Adzone Research, Inc.
- THE TAO OF THE DOW
- Notice: Self-regulatory organizations; proposed rule changes:
- CBOE Leaps
- 232-0405
- 97 Rich Dennis_ a Gun.
- Finance File
- CURRENCY DERIVATIVES OPTIONS CHAIN as on 02
- Trader or Trade Analyst or Trade research
- The Number - Notes
- Whats Up
- Hedge
- Econ Finance
- Hedge Funds Guide
- 020907 Welling Reprint
- Reject Report
- Stock Brokerage

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Barclays Capital provides an overview of the equity derivatives flows and products that

contribute to dealers’ correlation exposures, presenting several strategies that allow investors,

of all types, to take advantage of the resultant opportunities

One of the most talked-about metrics in the world of equity options on higher volatility underlyings (for example, stocks for

derivatives currently is correlation. While the basic intuition behind single underlying reverse convertibles) and purchase options

the metric is quite straightforward, correlation risks and exposures can on lower volatility underlyings (for example, indices for optically

be significant. Indeed, dealers have focused much time and effort into higher participation rates in capital guaranteed notes).

managing correlation risk. Moreover, many of these efforts have been While many of the above flows are over the counter and

aimed at isolating this risk to make it more efficient to trade. evidence is anecdotal at best, we are confident that these flows

are responsible for a bulk of dealers’ short correlation exposures.

Correlation is in demand We now consider why and how we think investors should take

We believe there are two primary flows that contribute to dealers’ advantage of opportunities arising from this phenomenon.

overall short correlation positioning. The first flow comes from

structured products and is the most important, in our view. As Opportunities for investors

investors generally like diversification and limited losses, they prefer On the back of the above flows and recent sell-offs in the equity

products with exposures to multiple underlyings and some sort markets, implied correlation (i.e. the market’s price for future

of protective feature. Accordingly, many structured products are correlation) has moved into the upper decile of its trading range of

based on custom baskets and/or broad-based equity indexes where the last few years. Moreover, we note that correlation spikes are less

the vehicles of choice typically involve a long call or put option likely now that we have moved into a higher volatility regime. This can

whereby investors limit their losses. Given the bespoke nature of be looked at intuitively by thinking about the likely effects of a market

these baskets, they are not generally traded in the market, so dealers shock in a calm (i.e. low volatility) market where there is a greater

generally hedge via options on each of the individual underlyings. probability of producing a unified move in stocks than in a market

Taking options to be synonymous with volatility, the dealer is where shocks (i.e. high volatility) are the norm. As we move beyond

thus short volatility on the basket and long volatility on the basket the bull market of the previous few years, markets will be less likely to

components in this scenario. This position makes the dealer short continue to rally in unison as they have in the past. Indeed, the market

correlation. Indeed, the less correlated the underlyings, the less could move into more of a stock-picker’s mode whereby some stocks

volatile the basket or index will be. As dealers sell more basket do well while others do not, thus decreasing correlations moving

options with various underlyings and hedge with the individual forward. Taking all of these factors together, we believe that products

options on those underlyings, the larger their short correlation

exposure becomes. While we have only mentioned basket options,

1 Correlation risk exposure from sale and hedging of a

there are other structured products, such as ‘worst-of’ reverse

basket option

convertibles, that contribute to this exposure as well (see figure 1).

Exposure to basket volatility

The second flow comes from the more vanilla end of the

product spectrum. Traditional equity portfolio managers who Option on X

X Y Z

Z

basket of assets (33.3%)

(33.3%) (33.3%)

(33.3%) (33.4%)

(33.4%)

use equity derivatives generally purchase puts to protect their

portfolios or sell calls to generate additional yield. Given the ease X

of use and lower cost, portfolio managers generally purchase Correlation

index puts. Moreover, portfolio managers often prefer to leverage risk Y Z

Source: Barclays Capital

call-overwriting (i.e. selling calls on shares they own) which also Hedged with

generates more premium than overwriting the index. Taken options on X Y Z

individual assets

together, these flows again leave dealers with a short correlation

Exposure to individual asset volatilities

exposure. More generally, we note that investors tend to sell

SPONSORED STATEMENT

and strategies that embed a short correlation view are priced as FX for some time. Their use in equity space, however, is relatively

attractively and should perform well over the next couple of years. recent and provides an exciting addition to correlation trading

strategies available to investors.

Hedge funds

Dispersion – A versatile strategy in terms of potential variations, Institutional investors

dispersion trades are typically implemented via several different In general, we find that fund managers use similar option overlay

vehicles. While dispersion is generally considered a mature strategy, strategies including buying index options (typically puts) and selling

innovation is still a key to success for dealers axed to sell correlation. stock options (typically calls), which may not be ideal given high

As an example, Barclays Capital has recently developed several implied correlations, especially on the intra-index level. By selling

interesting variations on the dispersion theme, integrating features index options rather than buying them, for example, managers

that can provide directional exposure by weighting dispersion may effectively monetise the relatively ‘richer’ implied correlation

according to specific parameters as well as structures leveraging of index options relative to stock options. Similarly, buying stock

our hybrid capabilities to exploit dispersion between asset classes. options (for example, baskets of puts), rather than selling them,

While dispersion trades executed over 2007 have suffered as takes advantage of the relatively cheaper implied correlation and

correlation levels crept higher over the year, now could be an premia relative to index options. Traditionally, hedge funds and

opportune time to take up such strategies for a variety of reasons: other advanced investors have taken advantage of these apparent

Current implied correlations levels are elevated; imbalances through volatility arbitrage strategies, however, there is

correlation is bounded by construction and we are close to no reason why discretionary fund managers should not benefit as

historical highs; and well, allowing them to capture alpha in the process.

the probability of correlation spikes in the current higher

volatility regime is lower. Retail/private banking

In the retail and private banking segments, product innovation

Correlation swaps – Probably the most straightforward means of has made it possible to import many of these same hedge fund

taking a position on correlation, correlation swaps are one of the strategies into products that suit the investment requirements

only means of gaining direct exposure to longer-dated correlation and risk appetite of individual investors. It is possible to provide

(for example, 1–3 years). Given that correlation swaps pay out the exposure to dispersion strategies, for example, in a variety of

difference between the realised correlation on a basket of securities formats including notes and UCITS III funds, while at the same time

and a fixed strike (defined as the market’s estimation of future providing necessary liquidity and transparency.

realised correlation), investors may use correlation swaps as a tool for At the more formulaic end of the product spectrum, current

implementing their views on the market ‘price’ of correlation relative high implied correlations (and volatility) are enabling dealers to

to subsequently realised correlation. By taking a short position in provide a number of new structures that were not feasible in terms

a correlation swap, for example, investors can effectively monetise of pricing even a year ago. In effect, over the past few months it has

this differential, should the realised correlation on underlying stocks become possible to provide investors with a number of products

turn out lower than the strike. While seemingly simple on the structured around the highest or ‘best’ underlying rather than the

surface, there are some subtle complexities. In particular, their path- worst-of structures that have been prevalent in the market. Other

dependent nature hinders fungibility among different maturities structures taking short correlation positions are also allowing

and the equal-weighting scheme does not accurately capture the individual investors to express a particular investment view which

correlation dynamics of market capitalisation weighted indices. may be less dependent on market direction than the co-ordination

Accordingly, liquidity is probably not as high in correlation swaps as it of future market movements, enabling them to opportunistically

is in variance-based dispersion trades, for example, and they may not sell correlation at the same time.

be suitable for managers whose reference period for performance Given the structural flows in equity derivatives markets,

measurement might be shorter than the tenor of the swap. correlation will undoubtedly continue to be one of the most

Covariance swaps – Recognising the shortcomings of correlation discussed topics. From the dealer’s perspective, these flows

swaps and related trading strategies, Barclays Capital has recently continue to challenge product development and innovation as

begun trading equity covariance as a means of trading correlation. structuring desks work to align investor objectives with pricing

The attractiveness of this structure for investors derives from the considerations. The good news for the investor is that there is now

dealers’ hedging benefits. In particular, covariance swaps allow dealers a range of structures available that enable them to take advantage

to better hedge their risk exposures (for example, those linked to the of correlation movements more directly.

sale of basket options) and can thus be priced more aggressively. To

see this, consider the risk when a dealer sells a basket option on, for Aaron Brask

example, two assets. They are effectively short volatility on the basket: Head of Equity Derivatives Research

London

σ 2portfolio = wi2 σ i2 + w 2j σ 2j + 2wi w j σ i σ i ρi , j T. +44 (0)20 7773 5847

E. aaron.brask@barcap.com

Hedging the third term with a correlation swap does not Jeffrey Baker

accurately hedge the position, which is in fact two times the Equity Derivatives Structuring London

product of the weighted individual standard deviations and their T. +44 (0)20 7773 8708

correlation. By entering into a covariance swap, on the other hand, E. jeffrey.baker@barcap.com

the dealer hedges this third term more accurately.

www.barcap.com

Covariance swaps have been applied to other asset classes such

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