In an analyst note, JPMorgan’s Chief Equity Strategist Marko Kolovanic discussed the anomaly between an increasingly shaky market and economic outlook, in contrast to the S&P 500 volatility index (VIX) which continues to trend lower.
A week ago, the VIX dropped to 16 which is its lowest level since November 2021, despite the S&P 500 being 16% lower compared to 17 months ago. Yet, economic growth continues to decelerate, inflation is meaningfully higher, and the Fed remains in a hawkish posture.
Kolovanic notes that we are not likely to see any abatement of these pressures in the coming months given the tightening of financial conditions and rising recession risk, while the Fed’s priority remains stamping out inflation even at the expense of the economy and labor market. Further, he notes stress in the banking system and drumbeat of rising tensions regarding China, Russia, and an upcoming election cycle.
He says depressed volatility is due to technical reasons, primarily the selling of short-term options which leads to dealer buying of stocks and volatility leaking lower. Adding to this is continued resilience in Q1 earnings while many were anticipating a meaningful decline.
Finsum: Volatility is at 17 month lows despite stocks being much lower. JPMorgan’s Marko Kolovanic explains some reasons behind this discrepancy.