SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

The Risks of Weekly Credit Spreads


There are hundreds of options trading "gurus" promising you all kinds of ridiculous returns like "5% per week". What most traders don't realize are the risks that come with those returns. I would like to share with you an email I got from one of those options "gurus".

Quote

Short term weekly options trading remains a tough road in 2016 as the weekly market volatility is whipping around weekly option traders. Case in point, our newsletter experienced a losing trade last week as bulls hammered markets higher. The loss was unfortunate but what really stood out to us were the reactions and sheer surprise of some traders.

 

Below is a copy of what we sent to our members over the weekend to remind them of just how aggressive (and volatile) weekly options trading can be:

 

Last week's loss stings, of course. The market ground higher all day Friday eating further into the expiring call spread. What was worse was that prudent adjustments for the trade were nonexistent.

 

Our weekly credit spreads are highly exposed to Gamma (the option greek) and the latest trade was a textbook example of it. As SPY ground higher debits to adjust exceeded $0.10 to simply the move the trade out a week and up $0.50. Doing so would have resulted in the new adjusted trade still being well in the money. We have been bitten before by that bug (paying to adjust higher while not actually reducing the risk to the new adjusted trade) before in March 2016 and did not want to repeat that experience.

 

The issue with weekly credit spreads is that everybody likes the fast pace weekly profits of weekly credit spreads until they take a loss. The weekly credit spread game is that there are many, many small profits and the losses are ALWAYS larger than the gains. That is how it works. That is risk curve of weekly credit spreads.

 

Although, when a loss occurs, retail traders become flabbergasted. The biggest misstep most retail traders make is underestimating the aggressiveness of our newsletter (and weekly credit spreads in general) due to its years of fairly smooth profits.

 

Retail traders are lulled into a false sense of security with weekly credit spreads forgetting that along with extreme profits (>4% per week and >100% per year) comes a healthy dose of risk. Look at it from another view: If large profits like that were easily available at low risk wouldn't everybody be producing them? Mutual funds and the like?

 

Weekly credit spreads are very volatile and aggressive; despite how their ease and consistency can lull you into a sense of safety. Think about, you don’t make >4% PER WEEK by not taking risk.

 

The real success and consistency over the long term in selling options is using expirations further out. 

 

 

I appreciate the email. Those are very wise words. Too bad this email came after three devastating losses the newsletter experienced in 2016 (150%, 78% and 69% losses before commissions).

image.png
image.png
image.png

Unfortunately, it looks like they didn't really learn any lessons from those losses. The newsletter members already booked two more devastating losses of 96% and 89% in the first five months of 2017. 

image.png

Definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

 

From the FAQs of this newsletter:
 

Quote

 

Q: How much money can I lose?

 

A: You can lose $100 per spread traded, less whatever we received as a credit when we entered the trade. We do everything we can to prevent large losses and have yet to have greater than a -15% loss on any trade. Statistically and as experienced in our Track Record, losses should not occur very often.

 

 

 


As we mentioned here: Often times you'll find this in a credit spread newsletter where the big loss just hasn't happened yet (it will).

 

Here is the problem with weekly credit spreads: most of the time, they will do fine, but if the market really does go south the position will be in trouble well before the short options go in-the-money. If the market drop is fast and severe (e.g., flash crash) there will be nothing you can do - the trades will be blown out with no way to recover, your entire investment will be gone. 

 

We warned about those "easy gains" several times. This is what we wrote in Can You Really Make 10% Per Month With Iron Condors? article:

 

Here are some mistakes that people do when trading Iron Condors and/or credit spreads:

  • Opening the trade too close to expiration. There is nothing wrong with trading weekly Iron Condors - as long as you understand the risks and handle those trades as semi-speculative trades with very small allocation.
  • Holding the trade till expiration. The gamma risk is just too high.
  • Allocating too much capital to Iron Condors.
  • Trying to leg in to the trade by timing the market. It might work for some time, but if the market goes against you, the loss can be brutal and there is no another side of the condor to offset the loss.

Unfortunately, many options gurus present those strategies as safe and conservative. Nothing can be further from the truth. As mentioned (correctly) in the above email, weekly credit spreads are very volatile and aggressive. You should allocate only small portion of your options account to those trades.

 

Related articles:

 

Want to learn how we reduce our risk?

 

Start Your Free Trial

Edited by Kim

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • Investing in Private Companies

    It is axiomatic that the largest investment returns typically come from investing in private companies. Peter Thiel initially invested $500,000.00 in Facebook, which was worth over $1b when he cashed out.  Eric Lefkofsky turned an investment of $546 (that’s not a typo) into $386m in cashed out payments.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 68 views
  • Option Strikes and Expirations – What's Next?

    Options expiration dates and strikes are among the most important parameters options traders must consider. Today we have the well-known weekly, monthly, cyclical, and LEAPS options. A lot of choices. But is that as far as we can go? The realm of possibilities could be endless. Consider some of these possible expansions:

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 163 views
  • Buying Deep Out-Of-The-Money (DOTM) Options

    “Income” trading has become wildly popular for option traders since the global financial crisis. This style involves selling out-of-the-money options to a hedger and collecting the full premium payment at expiry — assuming the underlying doesn’t trend too hard in one direction.

    By Tyler Kling,

    • 0 comments
    • 456 views
  • The ABCs of QE And QT

    Is QE money printing or is it something else that appears to be money printing? Search the internet for “QE and money printing”, and you will see countless articles explaining why Quantitative Easing (QE) is or is not money printing. Here are a few articles that we found:

    By Michael Lebowitz,

    • 0 comments
    • 137 views
  • A Case Study in SPX Put Writing

    I've written about writing puts on multiple occasions, as I find it to be an attractive way to gain long exposure to the underlying asset class. It doesn't have to be a decision of one vs. the other (meaning, is it better to sell puts or own the underlying asset directly?), as there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 236 views
  • 10 Tips: Trade Options Like a Pro and Keep Your Day Job

    Do you feel you don't have time to trade options?  This is one of the most common objections I hear from potential traders. In this article I'll give you 10 actionable tips to trade options like a pro while you balance life's other commitments.

    By Drew Hilleshiem,

    • 0 comments
    • 592 views
  • Straddles - Risks Determine When They Are Best Used

    Risk all too often is defined by the attributes of a strategy, and nothing more. However, the circumstances under which a position is opened is a better indicator of actual risk. Why? Because risk is not fixed but varies based on proximity of price to strike, and of strike to resistance or support.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 359 views
  • 4 Directional Options Trading Strategies

    Some Option traders prefer to trade mostly non directional strategies, while other option traders prefer to trade directional strategies.  Well, in the world of Options trading, there is no right or wrong answer. You can create a host of strategies based on your preferences and outlook.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 510 views
  • Digging Deeper into the Inflation Threat

    Stoking the Embers of Inflation is one of the more important articles we have written. The Monetary Equation Identity discussed in the article provides a counterintuitive way to think about inflation. It took us a long time to accept that this identity lays out a real case for stagflation.

    By Michael Lebowitz,

    • 3 comments
    • 1,189 views
  • Does Option Selling Have Positive Expected Returns?

    Academic research refers to the persistent phenomenon of ex-post implied volatility (IV) exceeding realized volatility (HV) as the Volatility Risk Premium (VRP). As it applies to option premiums, this leads to a positive expected return for being a systematic option seller.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 659 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


Guest David

Posted · Report

Kim,

Great article. 

Unfortunately I tried too many services that implemented those risky strategies. Booking Alpha, Avant Options, Bullogic and more. Most of them are out of business after devastating losses. Those weekly spreads can work well for a while, but one big loss erases months of gains. You don't get how risky they are until it happens to you.

Thank you for all the great education you provide! 

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

Options Trading Blogs