Societe Generale Research – Trade Idea: Go long AUD/USD vol against USD/JPY vol

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Societe Generale Research

Forex Trade Idea – Go long AUD/USD vol against USD/JPY vol (Societe Generale Research)

Rationale: Low and cheap volatility spread

The fair value of AUD/USD 3m vol is probably between 2 and 3 vols above USD/JPY 3m  implied  vol.  The  spread  is  now  only  0.3  vols  mid,  which  is  cheap  and  very  low historically. The  spread of the 3m realised volatilities  is currently at 2 vols, and its positive average has been 3 vols since 2010 and 2.8 vols since 2014.

CNY weakness to lift AUD/USD volatility. AUD/USD 3m vol retreated lower along with the CNY  vol  sell-off.  Yuan  volatility  has  been  pressured  by  the  New  Year  break  and  the subsequent respite in the currency decline. But downside risks related to capital outflows from  China  persist.  The AUD  will  be the  biggest  looser  when  the  CNY  downside  returns, involving significant upside risk in AUD volatility. The entry point to go long is now attractive.

USD/JPY  volatility  set  to  normalise.  The  1m  daily  realised  vol  jumped  to  15  with  the sudden break  by USD/JPY of the 115 area,  but has not durably stayed that high over the past decade. The 3m implied vol is trading 2.2 vols above the realised vol is not sustainable as the price action is cooling.

Expression: Go for the 3m expiry

The AUD/USD vs USD/JPY 3m vol spread is now very low, while 3m leaves enough time for normalisation.  The 6m and 1y vol spreads are currently at 1.1 and 1.8  mid. These dates are less attractive but discounting that the 3m implied vol spread should head north.

Mechanics: Vega weighted straddles or volatility swaps

#1 Buy AUD/USD 3m ATM straddle, Sell USD/JPY 3m ATM straddle
Vega-weighted, dynamically delta-hedged
Indicative offer: 0.65 vols

#2 Long AUD/USD 3m volatility swap, Short USD/JPY 3m volatility swap
Indicative offer: 0.70 vols (high USD/JPY butterflies offset the wider bid-offer compared to the straddles)

Risks: Persistent USD/JPY realised volatility

The P/L of the vanilla trade should be closely linked to the implied volatility spread between AUD/USD and USD/JPY. Unlimited risks are generated via the short gamma exposure of the USD/JPY  straddle  and  could  materialise  if  USD/JPY  realised  volatility  remains  above  the implied volatility at which the straddle is sold.

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