(New York)

Everyone is blaming last week’s big volatility on the VIX index. Explanations for the big falls are swirling and include an over-reliance on VIX-linked funds and insurers’ volatility strategy. However, FINRA is now looking into another potential cause—deliberate manipulation of the VIX. FINRA suspects traders have been trying to deliberately influence the VIX to move the price of derivatives. The tip on the behavior was given by an anonymous whistleblower.

FINSUM: Given the track record of misbehavior (e.g. Libor), it would be no surprise if traders were trying to manipulate the VIX. However, it is unclear what role that might have had in last week’s crash.

(New York)

One of the biggest names on Wall Street is warning investors that a recession is coming. Ray Dalio, head of the world’s biggest hedge fund, says that we are likely in for a recession as the Fed has to navigate a tricky tightening cycle. Dalio says the economy is in a hard-to-navigate period of tightening rates that will be hard for the Fed to get right. Rates are likely to rise quickly, which could spark a recession. The view is a reversal for Dalio, who had been until very recently saying that it was foolish to be wary of the stock market.

FINSUM: Dalio’s calls from Davos just a few weeks ago look foolish now, but he does make a good point that this will be a tricky period for the Fed to navigate well.

(New York)

The last two weeks could hardly have been worse for investors. Stocks plunged and bonds are falling, with the former led by obsession over the VIX. However, according to Bloomberg there is a ticket timing much bigger than the VIX, and one you probably aren’t paying much attention too—ETF loan funds. The market is much bigger than the $8 bn of volatility linked ETFs that got wiped out over the last couple of weeks, try $156 billion between loan ETFs and mutual funds. The big worry is that since these kind of illiquid underlying investments—actual loans—cannot be sold so quickly as the ETFs, that it could cause huge losses as ETFs stampede out but fund managers cannot liquidate the underlying quickly enough.

FINSUM: So this is a provocative spin on a common argument. Our counter, however, is that credit worthiness is pretty good overall, so it doesn’t seem like an exodus will occur.

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