There were a number of revealing statistics in the results of a risk management survey released this summer by HSBC in which 200 CFOs – or equivalent members of the finance department – and 296 senior treasury professionals took part.
The most immediately eye-catching amongst them was the fact that 70% of CFOs said that their companies have experienced lower earnings due to significant unhedged FX risk in the past two years, and moreover, that these were risks which their treasuries could have avoided.
Hedge funds have been much maligned post-financial crisis due a perceived lack of performance. Is this criticism fair? And what is the prognosis for currency funds in particular? Galen Stops takes a look.
Earlier this year, Cliff Asness, founder, managing principal and CIO of AQR, published an excellent piece explaining why hedge fund returns should not be compared to 100% long equities returns, as they so often are when people use the S&P 500 as a benchmark.
In the article, Asness was unequivocal in his conclusion that hedge funds not keeping up with equities during a nine-year bull market was completely predictable and is certainly not a reason to worry about the performance of these firms.
Looking at some recent hedge fund surveys, one clear trend emerges: hedge fund fees are under continued pressure. Galen Stops takes a closer look.
Each year, many of the largest investment banks publish extensive surveys regarding investor appetite and expected asset flows for the coming year. In many regards, trying to compare these surveys is tricky, given that each bank collects different data sets and then reproduces this data in very different formats.
One thing was made abundantly clear in the latest batch of surveys, however, and that is hedge fund fees are continuing to come under pressure from investors.
Susan Roberts, product specialist and director of investor relations at Campbell & Company, talks to Galen Stops about how the CTA industry has matured, what purpose these funds are really supposed to fulfill within a portfolio and why performance might be set for an uptick.
Galen Stops: In the research paper, Prospects for CTAs in a Rising Rate Environment: A Refresh, your analysis finds that CTA performance has not historically been interest rate regime dependent. Is this pretty much what you expected the data to tell you when you began working on the paper?
Much has been made of the struggles of speculators to make money in FX in recent years. Colin Lambert takes a look at data that suggests speculators are on the decline, and hedgers on the rise – and he sees some good news for the banks in this, if they can stay one particular course.
Spot FX is “over-broked” to use the market vernacular – there are so many market makers, many of whom are recycling liquidity, that differentiating oneself in this market is extremely difficult unless you are either at the very quick end of the spectrum or are handling plenty of large tickets that require care around the execution.
“It’s not rocket science, but it is a different approach compared to other exchanges,” says KC Lam, head of FX and rates at SGX, when discussing the exchange’s new FlexC FX futures, which aim to “futurise” certain OTC FX product offerings.
This is, of course, a reference to the recent product initiatives launched by various exchange groups in an attempt to bridge the gap between OTC and listed FX trading.
While Eurex has launched rolling spot futures, which mimic the trading of OTC FX spot contracts, combined with the daily usage of a tom-next (T/N) swap in order to roll over the value date of the spot position, and CME has launched CME Link, spot FX basis spreads offered on Globex to create a central limit order book (CLOB) between the OTC spot FX and CME FX futures markets, SGX is indeed taking a very different approach.
Key to the announcement made today by BNY Mellon that it is launching an FX options desk is that the bank believes that this represents the next step in its transition to a “full-service” FX franchise.
“We’re transitioning from a custody FX business to a more traditional full-service FX provider,” Adam Vos, global head of FX at BNY Mellon Markets, tells Profit & Loss. “As such, FX options was a key deliverable along this journey because it means that we can now meet more of our
client’s trading and hedging demands. It’s very important that they no longer have to go somewhere else for this activity, they can trade options - as well as other products – directly with us.”
At the start of 2017, a single bitcoin was valued at less than $1,000, yet by mid-December it had almost hit $20,000. Investors were pouring into the space, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) were being launched left, right and centre and - given the limited supply of bitcoins that can ever exist - some market commentators were making wild predictions about how high the value of this asset would ultimately go.
But despite starting the year at around the $15,000 mark, the price of bitcoin has fallen to $6,671 at the time of writing and other major cryptocurrencies have suffered a similar decline. So what went wrong?
Thus far, despite the hype and excitement around cryptocurrencies, most CTAs haven’t exactly been in a rush to start trading these assets. However, as Galen Stops reports, this might be about to change.
As Cboe and CME both prepared to launch bitcoin futures contracts in December 2017, the price of a single bitcoin roared upwards to peak at over $19,000.
For retail investors, the attraction of this particular cryptocurrency was that the price had been going up all year, having traded at around $985 per bitcoin in January of last year. For professional traders, the attraction of bitcoin was that it was an asset that was actually moving, it was uncorrelated to other assets and therefore offered diversification benefits and, on top of all this, was almost exclusively being traded by retail punters.
As mobile trading continues to grow in popularity, Scott Wacker, global head of e-commerce sales and marketing at JP Morgan, talks about how client demands for this product have changed.
Profit & Loss: How have you seen client demands regarding mobile trading evolve in recent years?
Scott Wacker: Initially, it was about showing clients what was going on in the market. We felt that there were a lot of traders who might be trading on our platform who would go into meetings and then want to monitor the markets during those meetings. So we looked at mobile as a way of differentiating our platform from competitors by offering them access to this market data.