MarketEye: Dispelling the myth: Volatility can be positive for returns

Darren Sharp
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Industry Voice: Volatility spiked in the first quarter of 2018, driven by the unwinding of US volatility products and then compounded by an increase in global trade tensions and profit taking in US technology stocks. Can unanticipated volatility present opportunities?

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In 2017, the global economy transitioned from a period of sluggish, US-dominated growth, to a more synchronised global recovery. With inflation still well behaved, corporate earnings grew strongly, buoying both equity and credit markets and suppressing volatility, which reached historically low levels. 

So far, 2018 has proved more challenging for some investors. Volatility spiked in the first quarter, driven by the unwinding of US volatility products and then compounded by an increase in global trade tensions and profit taking in US technology stocks. Unanticipated volatility spikes generally hurt in the near term, but they can also offer opportunities. Although generally short lived, the fear of loss among investors drives risk appetite downwards, and derivatives markets become dominated by those looking to hedge against downside risk. As a result, risk premia in option pricing can become elevated and this can create greater opportunity for alternative, option-based strategies to deliver positive returns.

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