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Trump's election tweets to drive jump in volatility, says JPMorgan

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 2 min read
Trump's election tweets to drive jump in volatility, says JPMorgan
Tweets mentioning “ventilators” had the most impact on the market this year.
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Donald Trump’s election-related tweets are likely to drive a jump in volatility in the world’s biggest funding market, according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts who created the Volfefe Index.

Named after Trump’s inscrutable “covfefe” tweet from May 2017, the index attempts to gauge the impact of Trump’s tweeting on the US Treasury market through interest rate derivatives known as swaptions. JPMorgan’s revised analysis shows that while the sensitivity of the market to the president’s tweets peaked in May, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trump’s Twitter activity still significantly influences expectations of volatility in this key market.

The overall volume of Trump’s Twitter activity continues to grow, with the president’s favored topics shifting as the year has unfolded. Tweets related to the pandemic and the Nov. 3 presidential election have surpassed those related to the trade war with China and other geopolitical themes, according to JPMorgan’s data. Tweets mentioning “ventilators” had the most impact on the market, a change from last year when words such as “China,” “billion” and “products” produced the biggest effects.

Investors are pricing in expectations of higher volatility around the election, with a JPMorgan analysis from earlier in the month showing that the US Treasury market is braced for a contested election. In the stock market, investors have been purchasing volatility protection extending beyond November and signaling expectations that the presidential battle could drag on for weeks or months. The death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has added to heightened volatility expectations in US equities.

“Presidential tweeting remains a statistically significant driver of volatility and options pricing in interest rates,” JPMorgan analysts led by Henry St John and Josh Younger wrote in their note. “Should the topic of those pronouncements turn to topics to which markets have been more sensitive -- Covid-19, the election, and geopolitics, for example -- it could be a bullish factor for volatility heading into November.”

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