Among the biggest winners from last week’s turmoil is the mysterious buyer of out-of-the-money options tied to the Cboe Volatility Index priced at about 50 cents apiece.
Pravit Chintawongvanich, head of derivatives strategy at Macro Risk Advisors, estimates that the trader dubbed “50 Cent” (a play on the rapper known as “50 Cent,” Curtis Jackson), has made nearly $200 million total on this trade since the start of 2017 -- thanks to a swing of $400 million in a single month.
"At one point, ‘50 Cent’ became ‘30 Cent,’ scrimping on his usual VIX option purchases, unwilling to pay up for the 50 cent VIX options that were his namesake," Chintawongvanich wrote. "But in early February, when it seemed like Fiddy’s fortunes could go no lower, it came: redemption."
Meanwhile, the so-called VIX Elephant has gone the way of its relative, the woolly mammoth: It’s now extinct. This trader, who put on massive VIX call spread trades while selling puts to benefit from a rise in volatility, has closed out all of their positions to earn a net $40 million on the trade, according to Chintawongvanich.
It is unclear if Mr. 50-Cent VIX made anything. It depends on what other hedges he may have had at the time or in the past.
Meanwhile, after having blown up on the short VIX trader, speculators are now net long a record number of VIX futures.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock