Sometimes a few graphs are worth thousands of words. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Yesterday’s US equity market collapse and simultaneous bond market bloodbath was the biggest combined loss since December 2015, but perhaps more ominously, the week’s combined loss in bonds and stocks was the worst since Feb 2009.
Many suggested that Friday’s slump was GOP-memo-related, and it may well have removed some froth, but judging by the major correlation regime shift between stocks and bonds that started on Monday, we suspect this is something considerably more worrisome for investors.
Even JPMorgan admits that the bond market sell-off gathered pace over the past week raising concerns about its impact on equity markets. This is especially because the bond-equity correlation, which has been predominantly negative since theLehman crisis, has started creeping up towards positive territory.
The 90-day correlation between stock (SPY) and bond (TLT) markets has surged ominously in the last few weeks…
In turn this raises concerns about de-risking by multi-asset investors who depend on this correlation staying in negative territory such as risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds? How worried should we be about de-risking by these two types of investors?
Judging by the impact on Risk-Parity funds yesterday (worst single-day performance since August 2015’s flash-crash)…
And this week (worst weekly drop in Risk-Parity funds since June 2013’s Bernanke Taper Tantrum)…
As mentioned above, these types of investors benefit from the structurally negative correlation between bonds and equities as this negative correlation suppresses the volatility of bond/equity portfolios allowing these investors to apply higher leverage and thus boost their returns. But, as JPMorgan points out, the opposite takes place when this correlation turns positive: the volatility of bond/equity portfolios increases, inducing these investors to de-lever.
In the past, just as we have seen this year, these risk-parity-correlation tantrums have been cushioned by equity market inflows, and we note that, in particular, YTD equity ETF flows have surpassed the $100bn mark, a record high pace.
If these equity ETF flows, which JPMorgan believes are largely driven by retail investors, start reversing, not only would the equity market retrench, but the resultant rise in bond-equity correlation would likely induce de-risking by risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds, magnifying the eventual equity market sell-off.