After some big moves in the equity markets to end the year the Worldvolatility is still at the low level of 4,47% in USD terms. The gold and treasury markets have remained calm in the face of equity turmoil. The level of the long interest rates will be important in the coming year. If the interest rates increase at a steady pace the volatility in the whole financial system can still remain at this low level of 4,47%. A quick sell off in the treasury market would be another story of course.
After all-time highs in the big equity markets and news about the longest bull market in history, the Worldvolatility have declined. The major thesis is still that the Worldvolatility will touch 4% before any major financial storm. The treasury market is very calm at this point, having a volatility of only 1/6th of its all time high sat at Dec 18th 1981.
Some readers might wonder why 4% is often mentioned here at Worldvolatility. That is because the Worldvolatility have turned up very close to 4% eight times since 1974. This have only happened in good times often before market tops.
That is an empirical fact in the post Bretton-Woods era.
On a more philosophical level the 4% might represent the minimum dynamism needed in a market economy, anything lower would be possible in a planned economy maybe, but not in a market driven capitalistic society.
The Worldvolatility stayed firmly under 5% through the spring of 2018. There have been slightly higher equity volatility than last year but gold and treasuries have been calm. The major thesis here at Worldvolatility is still that the Worldvolatility will touch 4% again before the next major financial storm.
After a wild February in the equity markets the Worldvolatility have risen to 4,89% in USD terms. The move felt dramatic and some reverse VIX ETF:s have been wiped out. In situations like this the Worldvolatility can sort out wheter the move is significant for the financial system as a whole. The short answer is that it has not been a dramatic move when looking at gold, treasuries and equity like Worldvolatility does. The increase in the level of the Worldvolatility is there but the dramatic move in the equity markets have been cushioned by far smaller moves in treasuries and gold.
4,89% is a low level historically as we can see below.
Answer to readers about graphs:
The top graph shows the evolution of the worldvolatility since 1974. An empirical observation that can be easily seen is that the values seem to stop decreasing around 4%. Why at 4%? That is unknown at this point, but it seems to hold as a worldvolatility low.
The bottom graph is just a zoom (in the long graph from 1974) from the last time the worldvolatility hit a 4% low , which was in the summer of 2014. The truncation of x axis at 4% is just to get a close up on the evolution of the worldvolatility.
So both graphs show the same evolution of the Worldvolatility, the bottom one being the close-up and the top one being the “big picture” from 1974.
The Worldvolatility will likely approach the 4% level soon, in what will be the 9th time since 1974. The road there can be longer or shorter mostly depending on Central bank policies going forward. The 90s saw the markets crawling close to 4% for almost two years. Whether the process will be quick or slow I will keep you posted.
The Worldvolatility have taken a sharp step down with equityvolatility hitting historical lows. The volatility of the treasuries are approaching really low levels but still have some way to go to historical lows sat at July 14th 1978. Back then the extreme calm of the treasuries were followed by extreme monetary events in the following years with the Worldvolatility spiking at 17,53% in October 15th 1982. In the close-up below (bottom graph) we can see that if the Worldvolatility is moving any lower now it is likely to approach the historical lows around 4% for the 9th time since 1974.
The Worldvolatility still resides in the lower range of the uptrend that started in 2014. A low reading at 5,27% occured in the beginning of July before the North Korea story broke out. The Worldvolatility stands today at 5,47%. The period since 2014 is starting to look a lot like the late 1990s. Back then the Worldvolatility went sharply from around 6% to 8% before Nasdaq broke in March of 2000. A sharp increase(say before Q4 2018) up to 8% from where we are now would look a lot like 1999 all over again. Right now it is too early to say if this will happen.
The risk parity weighted asset volatility (the Worldvolatility) stands at 5,59%. This is clearly within the normal range since the early 1970s. The 8th low at around 4% since 1974 occured in 2014 and from this low reading a clear uptrend can be seen until today. This can still be seen as mean reversion and the Worldvolatility have many levels to pass on the upside before it can be said to be high. In other words: -We live in a “normal” world at the moment resembling the late 1990s.
Asset volatility is still increasing very slowly but surely and has been in uptrend since 2014. Trump winning the US election did not change the direction of volatility and the latest increase is mostly because of a treasury sell-off. Asset managers are still experiencing “the wind increasing slightly as time passes”.