The former Target manager from the US who made millions on a trade that just blew up refuses to throw in the towel

  • Seth Golden, a former Target manager, said last year that he’d made millions shorting the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX).
  • After this week’s market meltdown, there was some concern over Golden’s status, but he says he’s just fine and continuing to bet against the VIX.

As the stock market suffered through its worst stretch in years earlier this week, readers of Business Insider kept asking one interesting question: What on earth does this mean for Seth Golden?

They’re referring, of course, to the Ocala, Florida-based former Target manager who made waves last year with claims that he’d grown his net worth from $US500,000 to $US12 million in five years by shorting the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX).

The VIX – also known as the stock market fear gauge – more than doubled on Monday, marking its biggest single-day spike in history and bringing its two-day move to 177%. Since Golden has made his money betting on the index to decline, people were understandably worried.

Well, readers, you’ll be relieved to learn that Golden says he’s doing just fine. And he’s refusing to throw in the towel on his money-making strategy.

When the New York Times caught up with him on Tuesday, he said that 21% of his portfolio – or $US600,000 – was still betting on a volatility drop. He also fired off the following tweet to his roughly 3,500 followers on Tuesday morning:

But that’s not to say he was completely carefree throughout the mayhem.

“It was really stressful,” he told Times reporter Landon Thomas Jr. “I was up until the wee hours, checking my phone to see where VIX futures were trading.”

In a separate interview with Quartz, Golden sounded slightly apprehensive about continuing to trade volatility the same way.

“That trading style or philosophy needs to be modified for the average trader,” he told reporter John Detrixhe.

It’s important to note just how catastrophic this week’s move in VIX futures was to the products used to short them. A late-session spike on Monday proved to be the undoing for the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) and the ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF(SVXY), each of which is designed to provide single-day returns that are the inverse of the VIX.

Amid the chaos, XIV lost 95% of its value. That, in turn, prompted Credit Suisse, which had the biggest holding in the ETN, to pull the plug on it.

With all of this in the rear-view now, it remains to be see if Golden will adjust his approach. After all, there are many ways to short the VIX, and they’re all at his disposal. Will he be able to resist chasing the easy profits that were once provided by his favourite strategy?

At this point, there’s only one thing for sure: people are watching Golden. So stay tuned for more updates.

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