If “theta is the rent on gamma,” for Robert Bogucki, trading options from the long side has always been worth the inevitable pain from carrying positions during benign periods in markets. Trained in mechanical and aerospace engineering, Rob made his way to Goldman Sachs at a time when the Street was just starting to take on individuals with math and physics background. Starting on the currency options desk at Goldman, Rob would spend time at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch before ultimately leading the global macro trading desk at Barclays, running a large customer and proprietary FX options book. Musing that a “bachelor’s degree in crowd psychology is worth more than a PhD in economics”, Rob stresses that modeling architecture like Black Scholes is important as a starting point for valuation, but we need to appreciate the limitations of models.
We review a few fascinating risk events in FX derivatives that Rob traded through. Remembering how disrespected risk premium was in the early summer of 2007, for example, Rob bought vol on the Brazil Yen cross, a pair in which hedge funds had piled into in order to earn the sizable interest rate differential. While difficult to carry, the market ruptures that materialized late summer as the Quant Quake went into full sway made this trade highly profitable. We speak as well about taking in as many data points across the asset classes for clues as to what might sponsor the next risk event, a strategy Rob executed by roaming on different floors to get a feel for what colleagues were up to.
Today, Rob is co-head of global trading and head of derivatives trading at Galaxy Digital, a firm focused on various businesses in the crypto landscape. In his role of pricing options on digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, Rob has plenty to say about these interesting vol surfaces and the interaction of various actors who are net sellers or net buyers of volatility. In his view, derivatives market liquidity is steadily increasing and a virtuous cycle is in place. These products will become more important as the extraordinary thrust of Central Bank actions are creating a broad rethink of the fiat monetary system. I really enjoyed this episode of the Alpha Exchange and hope you do as well.