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Are You Panicking Or Welcoming The Sell-Off?

|Includes: iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX)
posted these two juxtaposed stories yesterday:

"Confidence In Stocks Is Sinking to Record Lows in the Options Market"

"A Vote of Confidence: Insiders Are Clearly Bullish"

 

Visually, it's easy to see that equity option investors are feeling panicky as stocks have sold off over the past few weeks:

 

 

This is the equity-only put to call ratio. Put buyers are dominating trading in the options market lately even as the VIX trades near a 1-year high (meaning options are expensive). In other words, traders are scrambling to buy downside protection regardless of the cost.

 

On the other hand, company insiders are taking advantage of the sell-off to add to their personal stakes:

 

 

 

This chart shows the Insiders' sell-to-buy ratio year-to-date. Insiders are buying nearly as many shares as they are selling currently. Typically sellers outnumber buyers by a significant margin (much of their compensation is in stock so selling is simply the way they monetize that compensation). So it is fairly rare to see this degree of buying by insiders.

 

Put another way, the smart money (perhaps the smartest) is buying right now as the dumb money is scrambling to sell (or purchase the right to sell). Which side would you rather trade with? 

Disclosure: none