Jan 22, 2015

Opalesque.tv Volatility Interviews

Opalesque.tv has two most interesting interviews: first, from 2012 with Michael Wexler of Maple Leaf, and second , posted earlier this month, with Dr Andrew Cumming of Blackheath Volatility Arbitrage. It is not often that you hear detailed interviews from volatility arbitrage managers, so I thought to post the links in case my readers missed it.

Volatility trading is complex, and there are many more volatility strategies than there are equity strategies, but the funds mentioned above do run a similar core strategy - both sell ATM options and buy / overbuy wings (similar strategy is purportedly traded by ex-Nassim Taleb's hedge fund). The first payout strategy is fly - which is easy to understand as short vol position; the second - short ATM longs extra wings, looks like letter W with peak at the money, and extra wings on the side. The strategy is called dragonfly, and it is much harder to provide a simple explanation. It pays off in a really calm market, loses money in a moderately volatile market, and makes money in very very volatile conditions. The payoff is obviously highly nonlinear.

Both funds are extremely diversified across all asset classes, and geographic markets. Michael Wexler notes that equities is probably the most difficult asset class for short vol, given the high level of cross-correlations at times of crisis, and competition.

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