La Libra, Facebook's digital currency, announced for 2021 in reduced format

The launch of Facebook's digital currency, Libra , could take place in 2021. The project may benefit from favorable factors in the global economy, but regulators will have to be convinced first.  Facebook could launch Libra, its digital currency in 2021, we learn from the British media Financial Times, which quotes people close to the process. The product is expected to arrive in a limited version, after the project has met with great aversion from regulators, including in the United States, the country where the headquarters of the social media management company are located. The stakeholder association behind this digital currency project is now planning to launch a single version of Libra that will itself be pegged to the dollar, at the rate of one unit of US currency for each Facebook digital currency . “The other forms of currencies will be deployed at a later stage,” the FT source added. The exact launch date will depend on when the project

Extreme stock market: again the machines in question

The fear index, the famous VIX, exceeded on March 16 (82.69) the level it had known at the worst of the financial crisis of November 2008 (80.26). This is another record that no one wanted. More than the others, this indicator seems to play a leading role in the stock market plunge, by 30% in 18 short sessions, another precedent, as well as in the daily roller coaster.
Extreme stock market: again the machines in question

The volatility index is at the heart of many automated trading strategies. When this index goes up, the robot funds receive a risk signal which triggers pre-programmed sales, explained various speakers to the Wall Street Journal. The control panel for these algorithms also turns red when several usually uncorrelated asset classes drop at the same time, which has happened several times in the past few days.

"It is very clear what I have to do when the risk increases. I need to reduce my exposure. It’s all based on the instruction lists provided to the computer beforehand, "said Roberto Cruce, manager at Mellon Investments, The Wall Street Journal. The acute volatility is also disrupting the options market and daily pros' hedging strategies by deregulating the cost of these insurance policies. Even if they are not the cause of all the recent ills on the stock market, the influence of algorithms has never been greater, experts say.

"Risk parity" funds, which divide their capital into different asset classes to optimize returns and reduce risk, total $ 175 billion, the Wall Street Journal notes. At the same time, funds traded on the stock market, these baskets of securities that mirror indices, industries or themes, are the new sales and buying tools of choice for these robot funds during trading, which magnifies even more movements. In the past few days, for example, the fall of a US corporate bond ETF has become so rapid that the pros were unlikely to buy it, preferring to let the storm pass. Its fall suggested that companies were going to fail in large numbers when the problem was rather a plumbing problem in the negotiation of this market.

The momentum approach of buying the most popular stocks had paid off well until the stock market peak on February 20. These funds were buying because the abnormally quiet VIX was giving them the signal that everything was fine. It's been the opposite for three weeks. The markets are in a real vortex since the algorithms are confused by the synchronized fall of stocks, US Treasury bonds, gold, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, etc. Various loan marks between the institutions were also starting to sound the alarm, as of March 12. This maelstrom explains why the Fed so urgently needed to act. A financial accident can quickly degenerate into a shock wave, in the current climate.

"Until now, the Fed's measures are mainly used to prevent a hedge fund that borrows to invest paralyzes all markets" by giving him time to settle his bets, deplores in a tweet Christopher Cole, chief investment officer at Artemis Capital. The markets therefore need to regain some calm so that the volatility index stops triggering automated sales, which in turn lead to more cascading sales.

Obviously, robots are not the only ones involved. The realization that an economic downturn is leading up to the second quarter also sends investors out. Conflicting White House statements about the virus and the recession also fuel feelings of helplessness in the face of danger. The possibility that the pandemic could last until August in the United States, a scenario casually mentioned by the president in a long tirade, surely contributed to the fall of 3000 points in the Dow Jones on March 16.

The inability of financiers to predict the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, both on the revenues and profits of so many industries and over the duration of this period, also freezes the proper functioning of the stock market. Few buyers are showing up at home under these circumstances, said Jim Paulsen, chief strategist at Leuthold Group. "Financiers can take bad news and model recessions, but not the unknown. It’s worse for the markets, ”added the strategist. The huge media coverage of the coronavirus adds to the panic.

Paulsen even argues that the bad economic news to come could paradoxically calm the roller coaster a bit on the stock market. "It happens more often than not that the real statistics are less catastrophic than what we imagined," he said.

The recent stabilization of medium and long-term interest rates in the United States reassures him as well as it is entirely due to the massive intervention of the Fed in the markets of the Treasury bonds and mortgage securities. In his view, the extreme fluctuations and falls in the stock market suggest that the stock market crisis is closer to the end than to the beginning. "The courts have already entered a serious recession," he concludes.

The S&P 500 trades at a multiple of 14.4 times the expected profit in 12 months. Even if the denominator of this ratio dropped and the bad news continued for several months, the stocks are interesting for patient investors. Leuthold also recalls that the Fed lowered its key rate to zero in mid-December 2008, in the midst of a financial crisis, three months before the stock market hit its ultimate low in March 2009.