Eq: Total Market

Someone say doomsday scenario?

Or at least strongly imply it?

Democrat; Republican -- you can just shunt the ideologies aside. Both have a separate point of view with no end in sight in order to circumvent default as the government edges toward its so-called debt ceiling x-date, according to cnn.com. That, of course, is when the Treasury could find its pockets empty, meaning paying all government obligations would require extraordinary measures.

Okay, so while the odds still are relatively low that the government will default on its debt, Wall Street’s no fan of the impact the equity markets would feel in light of debates flashing no indications that the credits are anywhere near rolling.

Meantime, investors should devote rapt attention over the next few weeks and, as one expert suggests, stand poised to become “a bit more defensive,” according to cnbc.com.

At this point, at least, setting aside the fact the short term Treasurys have priced in reluctance, significant volatility isn’t necessarily in the cards as far as the markets are concerned.

“Congress was willing to play the game of chicken, but there were fewer members of Congress actually willing to crash the car,” said Betsey Stevenson, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan.

In an article for MarketWatch, Jamie Chisholm discussed some reasons for why stock market volatility has remained depressed despite the ongoing crisis in regional banks which some fear could lead to a credit crunch. In contrast, the stock market seems more responsive to economic data and the Federal Reserve. 

Economic data continues to signal an economy that is growing albeit decelerating but also not in a recession which would hurt corporate earnings. Q1 earnings also have come in stronger than expected. 

The Federal Reserve is in the final innings of its rate hike cycle. Futures markets are already looking ahead at rate cuts by the end of the year or Q1 of next year. And, inflation data continues to moderate and move in the right direction which is also supportive of asset prices. 

It’s also surprising that the market seems unconcerned about the debt ceiling deadline and a potential default, although there has been chatter about positive progress from negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. Surprisingly, the regional bank crisis is having little spillover impacts on the market or economy. In fact, the S&P 500 is 3% higher than from when the crisis began, while the Vix is nearly 10% lower. 

Finsum: One mystery for market participants is that volatility remains depressed despite ongoing struggles for regional banks and a looming debt ceiling deadline.

In an article for Reuters, Mike Dolan discussed the widening gap between market volatility which has been trending lower since October of last year and headlines of various geopolitical, financial, and economic risks that are increasingly dominating headlines. The Federal Reserve is expected to hike rates despite signs that the economy continues to decelerate, considerable stress in the banking system, increasing chatter of a ‘technical default’ for the US Treasury if the debt ceiling is breached, and important data points in the coming weeks in the form of earnings from tech giants and the April jobs report. 

Despite these potential threats, the VIX, which measures stock market volatility, reached its lowest levels since November 2021. The stock market is also nearing a 20% move rise from its October lows, which many market participants would define as a new bull market. Volatility is similarly depressed in the Treasury market and the currency markets despite upcoming central bank meetings, indicating that this divergence between the VIX and headline risk is not unique to equities.

Finsum: There is a widening gap between various headline risk and market measures of volatility which are at multi month lows. 

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