Vexed by variance

Variance swaps and dispersion trades have been extremely popular with hedge funds and proprietary trading desks over the past 18 months. But a spike in equity volatility in May and June has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses at some firms. Jayne Jung investigates


While many traders cheered the return of equity volatility in May and June, not all saw it as an opportunity for greater returns. For some investors, particularly those with short volatility positions through variance swaps and dispersion trades, the pick-up in volatility caused millions of dollars in mark-to-market losses. The losses haven't had a terminal effect on volatility trading - only one or two desks are thought to have retreated from the market, unlike last year, when losses in the

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