Call it euphoria, irrational exuberance, or a melt-up, everyone is looking for signs that market valuations are out of control and approaching a downfall. Some signs have finally started to show up in the last few months as stocks have steadily gained. One such sign can be seen across the market—the elimination of hedges. Consistently low volatility has reduced fear in investors’ hearts to the point that many are abandoning puts and other downside protections. They are trying to chase the performance of passives and don’t want to “waste” money on hedging. The chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald comments on the trend that “I haven’t seen hedging activity this light since the end of the financial crisis … It started in late 2016 and accelerated in the second half of the year”.
FINSUM: This is typical late cycle imprudent behavior, but chasing benchmark performance is a good explanation of the trend.