Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Is There A Role For Options Insurance In Equity Portfolios?
Old 06-11-2020, 12:29 PM   #1
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Pasadena CA
Posts: 2,898
Is There A Role For Options Insurance In Equity Portfolios?

Recent article in The Economist magazine ‘Buttonwood’ column on disagreement between Taleb and Cliff Asness about options as investments. Taleb thinks options are a good idea and Asness holds that options are insurance and thus a drag on performance over time.
Certainly some make money on options but as someone with a simple portfolio (mostly index funds and VG W/W, just a few ‘old’ stocks) I’m not sure if options are a good thing for me to try to understand. Really interesting article, the Economist ultimately doesn’t agree with either of them saying: “It can make sense to use them when they are relatively cheap.”
Now, what is cheap? Anything a layman can understand and use?
__________________

__________________
T.S. Eliot:
Old men ought to be explorers
yakers is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-12-2020, 10:46 AM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Spending the Kids Inheritance and living in Chicago
Posts: 9,708
I use options a bit.
Be careful with them as they use different terminology than stocks, for example when I sell 2 call options on SPY for $1.50. It really means I'm selling the option for 200 shares, and get $1.50 x 200 = $300 premium.

Here is where I find them most useful:

I'm thinking of selling a stock, I can sell a Covered Call on it, getting a premium paid to me, and if the stock goes up in price to meet the strike price it gets called away (sold). If the price does not go up enough, I get to sell a Call again on it.
Of course if the price shoots way up, I miss that appreciation in price.
Nothing is free.
__________________

__________________
Fortune favors the prepared mind. ... Louis Pasteur
Sunset is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2020, 11:32 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
OldShooter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: City
Posts: 5,080
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers View Post
... Now, what is cheap? Anything a layman can understand and use?
I doubt it. I am a real Taleb fan and have read his books multiple times. I an currently on my umpteenth trip through "Fooled By Randomness." He does not discuss options or option strategy very directly but my understanding is that he buys options that will pay off big in the case of a many-sigma market move. He expects the options to expire worthless most of the time, but waits for the big winner that covers all the losses and then some. I assume this is the hedge he is advocating.

Again, he does not address this directly, but I think it only works if the options he buys are underpriced. If they are always efficiently priced, then I think his net has to be close to zero.

This layman has no way to know whether an option is underpriced or not. From my very limited understanding of Black-Scholes, I think it would not help with a Taleb strategy because by definition Taleb is buying things that are off the charts. So no joy there either.


FWIW here is a link to the Economist article: https://www.economist.com/finance-an...ity-portfolios It may be behind a paywall though. As a subscriber I can get it but YMMV.
OldShooter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 08:35 AM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 26,591
I'm looking at long term (Dec 2022) LEAP calls on SPY that are delta 0.7 (roughly 15% ITM). They are a little expensive right now but if/when prices normalize I think they may be an attractive alternative to direct investment in equities. Similar upside but with limited downside risk.

I also own a little SWAN, which is an ETF that is 90% Treasuries and 10% SPY call options (5% 12 month SPY calls bought at 0.7 delta bought every 6 months).
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Retired Jan 2012 at age 56...target 65/35/0 AA TBD
pb4uski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 09:59 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
OldShooter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: City
Posts: 5,080
Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I'm looking at long term (Dec 2022) LEAP calls on SPY that are delta 0.7 (roughly 15% ITM). They are a little expensive right now but if/when prices normalize I think they may be an attractive alternative to direct investment in equities. Similar upside but with limited downside risk. ...
If the options are efficiently priced, though, then probabilistically the buyer will lose as much as he wins, no? So then it's a wash except for costs? I guess any one buyer will never know because his sample size is so small.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
... I also own a little SWAN, which is an ETF that is 90% Treasuries and 10% SPY call options (5% 12 month SPY calls bought at 0.7 delta bought every 6 months).
Taleb's "barbell" strategy from "Antifragile." Interesting.
OldShooter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 10:51 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
FIRE'd@51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,422
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
If the options are efficiently priced, though, then probabilistically the buyer will lose as much as he wins, no?

Not necessarily. One can still make a lot of money buying overpriced call options if the underlying stock or index goes up. IOW, if someone is a good stock picker or market timer, the alpha he generates from his stock-forecasting ability could be significantly greater than the negative alpha generated by overpaying for an option.

I would agree with your assertion if the option buyer (or seller) were implementing a delta-neutral strategy.
__________________
I'd rather be governed by the first one hundred names in the telephone book than the Harvard faculty - William F. Buckley
FIRE'd@51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 11:19 AM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
OldShooter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: City
Posts: 5,080
"delta-neutral" ?? Teach me.
OldShooter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 12:00 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
FIRE'd@51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,422
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
"delta-neutral" ?? Teach me.

Delta-neutral means the option plus a hedging portfolio is independent of the price of the underlying, i.e., the combination of the two has a net delta of zero. This is the only way to isolate and capture the mis-pricing of an option.
__________________
I'd rather be governed by the first one hundred names in the telephone book than the Harvard faculty - William F. Buckley
FIRE'd@51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 12:25 PM   #9
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
bmcgonig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,067
Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I'm looking at long term (Dec 2022) LEAP calls on SPY that are delta 0.7 (roughly 15% ITM). They are a little expensive right now but if/when prices normalize I think they may be an attractive alternative to direct investment in equities. Similar upside but with limited downside risk.

I also own a little SWAN, which is an ETF that is 90% Treasuries and 10% SPY call options (5% 12 month SPY calls bought at 0.7 delta bought every 6 months).
Pb

I've been looking at swan and trying to see how it can bite me in the ass. What comes to be is a real bear market like 73/74 e.g., down two years in a row. The options would expire worthless possibly twice for a permanent loss of 20%? That would also seem to be the case if the market just went down 10% each of the two years. Your normal portfolio would have a chance to recover with time but the swan would have a permanent loss.

If interest rates were rising at the same time your treasures would also lose. They seem to buy a ladder of treasuries 7-10yr duration.

Does that make sense or am I missing something?
bmcgonig is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2020, 11:39 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Spending the Kids Inheritance and living in Chicago
Posts: 9,708
Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I'm looking at long term (Dec 2022) LEAP calls on SPY that are delta 0.7 (roughly 15% ITM). They are a little expensive right now but if/when prices normalize I think they may be an attractive alternative to direct investment in equities. Similar upside but with limited downside risk.

I also own a little SWAN, which is an ETF that is 90% Treasuries and 10% SPY call options (5% 12 month SPY calls bought at 0.7 delta bought every 6 months).
One annoying thing about Leaps on SPY is missing out on the dividend for the 1.5 yrs.
__________________
Fortune favors the prepared mind. ... Louis Pasteur
Sunset is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2020, 03:02 AM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
FIRE'd@51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,422
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
One annoying thing about Leaps on SPY is missing out on the dividend for the 1.5 yrs.
Presumably, the fact that you're not getting the dividend is factored into the LEAP price.

You could always just hold the SPY and buy the 0.3 delta one-year puts every six months. This would give you the same return pattern as the SWAN, and you wouldn't have to pay the 0.5% expense ratio. This is the way I would do it if I were looking for that return pattern.
__________________
I'd rather be governed by the first one hundred names in the telephone book than the Harvard faculty - William F. Buckley
FIRE'd@51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2020, 04:46 AM   #12
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: London
Posts: 633
Interesting thread. I recently started experimenting with options a bit. To the outside observer it probably looks like monkey poking a fire ant nest with a stick. Amusing but unlikely to end well.

Anyone interested in a participating in a sustained options thread in the same mode as the preferred stock thread that's been around forever?

Interesting and highly technical topic.
__________________
Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity.
Closet_Gamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2020, 06:39 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 26,591
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgonig View Post
Pb

I've been looking at swan and trying to see how it can bite me in the ass. What comes to be is a real bear market like 73/74 e.g., down two years in a row. The options would expire worthless possibly twice for a permanent loss of 20%? That would also seem to be the case if the market just went down 10% each of the two years. Your normal portfolio would have a chance to recover with time but the swan would have a permanent loss.

If interest rates were rising at the same time your treasures would also lose. They seem to buy a ladder of treasuries 7-10yr duration.

Does that make sense or am I missing something?
I think you need to compare it to what a conventional AA portfolio would do under the same scenario rather than flat.

Quote:
In the 694 days between 11 January 1973 and 6 December 1974, the*New York Stock Exchange's*Dow Jones Industrial Average*benchmark suffered the seventh-worst*bear market*in its history, losing over 45% of its value.
Seems like the 20% loss would be less than 60% of a 45% loss.

SWAN's loss wouldn't be permanent because when the normal portfolio would recover the options in SWAN would be profitable and offset the earlier losses.
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Retired Jan 2012 at age 56...target 65/35/0 AA TBD
pb4uski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2020, 06:40 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 26,591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post
Interesting thread. I recently started experimenting with options a bit. To the outside observer it probably looks like monkey poking a fire ant nest with a stick. Amusing but unlikely to end well.

Anyone interested in a participating in a sustained options thread in the same mode as the preferred stock thread that's been around forever?

Interesting and highly technical topic.
Yes.
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Retired Jan 2012 at age 56...target 65/35/0 AA TBD
pb4uski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2020, 07:38 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Dawg52's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Central MS/Orange Beach, AL
Posts: 8,567
Quote:
Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post
Interesting thread. I recently started experimenting with options a bit. To the outside observer it probably looks like monkey poking a fire ant nest with a stick. Amusing but unlikely to end well.

Anyone interested in a participating in a sustained options thread in the same mode as the preferred stock thread that's been around forever?

Interesting and highly technical topic.
I probably fall into the monkey camp but it would be an interesting topic and I might learn something. Heaven forbid.....
__________________
Retired 3/31/2007@52
Investing style: Full time wuss.
Dawg52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2020, 03:50 PM   #16
Dryer sheet aficionado
Months.in.Wyoming's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post
Interesting thread. I recently started experimenting with options a bit. To the outside observer it probably looks like monkey poking a fire ant nest with a stick. Amusing but unlikely to end well.

Anyone interested in a participating in a sustained options thread in the same mode as the preferred stock thread that's been around forever?

Interesting and highly technical topic.
Yes... I have an options passive income strategy (still working out details at the edges) but I plan to use it (eventually in a Roth) to provide all my income while letting the majority of the nest egg grow for as long as I'm here... Idea is to generally sell Put options that are near term (with 5 weeks out) on companies with fortress balance sheets that I'd like to own anyway at slightly out of money strikes. And just live off the premium. If I get put to, then I'll maybe have to do a traditional withdrawal until I'm back to strike (or higher) and sell and return to put writing. Anyone else doing this? I have been and am tracking all trades - I sleep well at night as these are all cash covered and with companies I'd like to own (even though that isn't my goal).
__________________
When in doubt, hike a mountain...
Months.in.Wyoming is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2020, 04:07 PM   #17
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 1,924
I used options pretty heavily at times during accumulation phase as a way to limit risk or control a higher equity position with a limited number of dollars.

After years of not using them, I recently began buying puts on SPY as a bit of downside insurance. I'm only going out about a month at present to keep it cheap.

Seems better than selling stocks at a time when markets remain strong, though I have been doing some selling into strength also.
Montecfo is online now   Reply With Quote
Is There A Role For Options Insurance In Equity Portfolios?
Old 07-08-2020, 09:59 PM   #18
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 68
Is There A Role For Options Insurance In Equity Portfolios?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I'm looking at long term (Dec 2022) LEAP calls on SPY that are delta 0.7 (roughly 15% ITM). They are a little expensive right now but if/when prices normalize I think they may be an attractive alternative to direct investment in equities. Similar upside but with limited downside risk.

I also own a little SWAN, which is an ETF that is 90% Treasuries and 10% SPY call options (5% 12 month SPY calls bought at 0.7 delta bought every 6 months).

pb4uski - happy to provide insight since your posts on all other topics are always so informative. Thanks for teaching me and others so much over last few months.

Buying ITM calls is leveraging your cash. Upside is great but you can lose it all if SPY finished below that strike. So def downside risk! It’s a leveraged long. You are also paying for the option in the form of some premium to do this (tough to explain in a few sentences). And yes, the Dividend discount is imbedded in these options already so you aren’t missing out on this.

General notes:

I’m relatively (few months) new to the board and learning lots but options are the one thing I know. Been working with them professionally for almost 2 decades.

Few things from reading thread.

Options are tricky...insanely complex really. Be careful that you understand them before you play with them.

They are great for passive investors to use simply as insurance or call writing (covered). These two strategies are pretty simple on the surface.

Options are well priced but can serve a purpose for you if you understand them. Otherwise there is no edge. There is no mispricing. You are playing against very sophisticated firms who specialize in these. They are repriced on the millisecond level with news and market info digested by complex algorithms. The papers you read make it sound like you can find a miss priced option. You can’t.

You can buy small lotto tickets and wait for the big win as someone said. But zero edge (in fact negative due to fees and wide spreads). Same with all other strategies.

Again I’d stick to The puts or calls strategies above after you have read up on them. But they’ll be perfectly priced every second of the day. As someone said above, nothing is free. But they are the only two things I’d advise doing as a non professional.


Happy to answer any questions on this topic if anyone has specifics or wants to start a thread.
Retireby45ish is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2020, 10:35 PM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Spending the Kids Inheritance and living in Chicago
Posts: 9,708
If a person buys deep ITM Leaps, I've felt this is a fairly safe, move.
I would not mind if folks point out my poor thinking

Example: Spy is currently $316.83
A leap strike price of $160 is about $158/sh (where I'm looking and its not real time).
So the premium is only $2 (seems too cheap to me, but would be missing out on about $11 of dividends).

What could happen in the nearly 2 years:
  1. Stock goes way up -> make a nice leveraged profit.
  2. Stock stays flat -> miss out on divs
  3. Stock goes down $50 -> I lose some money when exercise option, the more it goes down the more I lose to a point.
  4. Stock goes down below strike prices of $160, I don't lose as much compared to person who held the stock, I don't exercise the option.
I do wonder if being a (+) person and thinking in 2 years the market will be higher, if it would be better to buy a $320 Strike price for $30/sh as for roughly the same money as the deep ITM leap I could buy 5 options at a cost of $150/sh.
__________________
Fortune favors the prepared mind. ... Louis Pasteur
Sunset is offline   Reply With Quote
Similar Thoughts
Old 07-09-2020, 08:36 AM   #20
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 936
Similar Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Months.in.Wyoming View Post
Yes... I have an options passive income strategy (still working out details at the edges) but I plan to use it (eventually in a Roth) to provide all my income while letting the majority of the nest egg grow for as long as I'm here... Idea is to generally sell Put options that are near term (with 5 weeks out) on companies with fortress balance sheets that I'd like to own anyway at slightly out of money strikes. And just live off the premium. If I get put to, then I'll maybe have to do a traditional withdrawal until I'm back to strike (or higher) and sell and return to put writing. Anyone else doing this? I have been and am tracking all trades - I sleep well at night as these are all cash covered and with companies I'd like to own (even though that isn't my goal).

I have been considering something similar but have yet to do any real work modeling, back testing, etc.

My thinking is along the lines of selling puts on things (likely all or mostly indexed ETF's) that I want to own at a lower entry point anyway.



Some of the many things I still need to work out:
  1. Pricing the puts
  2. Cash covered only or using margin for more flexibility
  3. Tax implications
__________________

__________________
If there's one thing in my life that's missing; It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters; There's lots of those friendly people
Showin me ways to go; And I never want to lose your inspiration
CoolChange is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The role of bonds in AA, are there substitutes? Rothman Stock Picking and Market Strategy 7 05-07-2013 12:30 PM
Standard Portfolios and Options excellent Young Dreamers 13 11-07-2006 06:14 PM
Role of life insurance Arif FIRE and Money 78 12-10-2005 09:31 AM

» Quick Links

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:54 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×