Thursday, April 16, 2009

New sentiment indicator? Forget Skirt lengths, watch collars?

Trying to gauge market sentiment is a challenge. But that does not mean people don't keep trying. From measurements based off of skirt lengths, to closed end fund discounts, to the VIX we just keep trying. The newest candidate is Credit Suisse's so-called "Fear Barometer" out which is based on collars (as in the option position not what is at the top of a shirt).

From Fear of a Recovery -
"...the Credit Suisse Fear Barometer, which measures fear by pricing a zero-cost collar -- selling a 10% out-of-the-money Standard & Poor's 500 index call that expires in three months and spending the entire proceeds to buy an index call -- helps prove the point.

The Credit Suisse barometer recently registered 13.67, suggesting that upside call premiums are rather expensive."
Writing at SeekingAlpha "Babak" questions is usefulness suggesting its small range is not informative and then more tellingly showing charts (from Bloomberg) of the VIX, the S&P, and the new CS Fear Index which seemingly have little relation, he concludes:
"Useless sentiment indicators abound out there and they keep being calculated and disseminated like zombies. Looks to me like the CSFB is a prime candidate for the round filing cabinet - even before it arrived! - which is some kind of record"

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