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  • Christian Armbruester

Archegos and the Blue Light Special

Why you should never risk thy whole wad.

People seem to always confuse trading and investing. Ultimately, it comes down to the same thing and if we make money or not. Everything else is just a matter of semantics. That being said, if you want to invest, buy the MSCI World Index and look at it again in ten or twenty years’ time. If you want to trade, then beware where you go hunting and make sure you stay within your limits.

Something the folks at Archegos obviously couldn’t do, and the thing I always thought was quite clear, is that you never bet more than what you have. But of course, everything is a matter of probabilities and the problem is, we can only go by what happened in the past when we assess the riskiness of a given portfolio. Even the most sophisticated risk models in the world need reliable input and when it gets to predicting future correlations or volatilities, there is inherently a rather large margin of error.

Fact is, that many of the most revered investment banks in the world were willing to lend the money. Even though the risks must have seemed rather obvious in hindsight, given the leverage et al. What happens next is a fire sale of epic proportions and as it turned out a very expensive game of musical chairs. Apparently, Goldman got out first, but the likes of Credit Suisse and Nomura face losses in the billions, as the collateral they thought they held disappeared within an instance.

As a result, several stocks of multi-billion-dollar companies were sold down as much as 30% and even 50% in a matter of hours. These stocks may have further to go, as rumour has it that some of the banks still have more to sell. Clearly, we all feel for the clients, the banks, and the shareholders. However, someone’s pain is another‘s gain for anyone buying all of these stocks right now.

It’s like the ultimate Kmart Blue-Light-Special and for those of you who missed those glamorous shopping trips to this supermarket before the nineteen nineties, let’s just say that sometimes things can just fall into your lap. There is no doubt these stocks will bounce back once the selling pressure is absorbed. Remember, the banks have to sell at any price, but we don’t have to buy until we like the risk and reward. Now ask yourself, which would you rather do: buy a basket of stocks that temporarily got beaten down to smithereens or try to predict the next direction of the Nasdaq? There is a trader in all of us yet.


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