Who's behind the weekly Max Pain phenomenon that has become the tail that wags the dog?
In our ongoing quest to understand what part the trade in weekly Apple (AAPL) options plays in keeping the company's stock price from reflecting its performance (see here, here and here), we had a chat the other day with Mark Sebastian, a former market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange who posts frequently on TheStreet.com.
He's been encouraging individual investors to piggyback on an options trading strategy some large, as yet unidentified, players have been pursuing that generates steady profits when Apple trades up and down within a relatively narrow range. (See Max Pain.)
The scheme, which typically involves buying and holding several different options in a range of strike prices (see, for example, the iron butterfly), was probably developed, he says, by "a couple of options-oriented hedge funds."
"They'll keep playing it," he says, "until it doesn't work anymore."
Which hedge funds would those be?
New evidence suggests that since last summer the tail has been wagging the dog
If you're any kind of Apple (AAPL) investor, you should be aware of the chart at right, even if you don't know a put from a call and don't really care to.
It shows the value in millions of dollars as of Wednesday morning of the outstanding Apple options that expire this Friday, with the magenta bars representing MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 18, 2011 7:36 AM ET
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