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Gratitude is Riches

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. -Doris Day

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following are often the busiest travel days of the year. With that in mind, I’ve chosen to “change lanes” a bit with this piece.

Let’s focus some attention on how “rich” we are if we’re able to occasionally “complain” about the performance of capital markets. To be clear, those tracking the Nasdaq-100® Index (NDX) in calendar year 2023 have very few valid complaints.

The NDX has advanced ~47% since the end of last year. The NDX is only 6% off all-time highs. That compares to the S&P 500® Index (SPX), up 19%, and the Russell 2000® Index (RUT) higher by only 3.4% despite recent outperformance.

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Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

In the Thanksgiving spirit, I’m grateful for so much more than U.S. equity market returns this year.

I have a wonderful boy who is (quickly) becoming a strong little man that makes me proud every day. He just celebrated his 9th birthday, and “seeing the world again” through his eyes and experiences has been a gift on the grandest scale.

I could ramble on ad nauseam, which many parents likely understand. Suffice it to say I’m profoundly grateful for a healthy, well-adjusted, resilient, hard-working, competitive and empathetic boy.

The nine years with him have shifted my sense of time and treasure. I am so fortunate.

Kevin Davitt

My extended family, including my mom who turned 80 this year, are doing well. Age is a gift, and I’m now able to appreciate the foundational lessons of my youth in a new way.

Team

On average, we spend about 90k hours at work during a lifetime. The typical lifetime is about 79 years. That’s 28,835 days or slightly less than 700k hours. Work accounts for about 11 of those years (~90k hours).

I get to work with amazing colleagues. I get to support a product (NDX) and tools (index options) that I genuinely believe in. I’m afforded the flexibility to do so in ways that spark my creative inclinations as well as my quantitative interests. I’m supported at the corporate and interpersonal levels, for which I’m incredibly grateful.

Rates

Interest rates have been one of the defining stories in capital markets over the past two years. The shift in Fed Funds has arguably been the most dramatic hiking cycle since the Federal Reserve was formed (December 1913).

Rates have impacted economic behavior, valuations, business creation and countless other areas of the markets. The adjustments have been difficult for many.

The fight against inflation appears to be working (the rate of change has slowed dramatically), but it’s not without cost. The commercial and residential real estate markets have been frozen in areas. The cost of service debt for individuals has moved much higher.

The flip side of that coin is that savers are being compensated for the first time in almost a generation. Money market funds are yielding north of 5% annually (compounded).

Going back to my mom – she’s been (understandably) quite risk-averse for the past 15 years. On the whole, she missed out on a sizeable equity market rally, but as my parents taught me when I was young – “you can’t should have.

At present, the cash she sits on is more valuable than in years past. Her money market account has grown considerably, benefiting her and other risk-averse savers.

Short-term rates/yield products may decline in the coming year. The future remains uncertain, but for those companies, institutions and individuals that have saved diligently, the market rewards them differently in a higher-rated environment.

Surroundings

This gratitude is three-fold.

I believe that our surroundings influence our relative well-being. Much goes into our “surroundings,” including physical location, the friendships we foster and to a certain extent… the weather.

I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people for most of my life. The friendships I made in college remain in place 25+ years later. They bolster me, and 2023 was a reminder of how valuable that support can be.

It’s been an unusually beautiful autumn around Chicago. It’s been warm and consistently sunny. The natural world around us is transforming ahead of a winter slumber. The leaves slowly turn and eventually fall in a chromatic explosion.

It’s a reminder that natural cycles exist. Daylight is shortened, and temperatures decline. In a month, the days will slowly lengthen (northern hemisphere). The temps will take longer to respond, but it will happen.

In many ways, capital markets mirror life. There are cycles. The rhythms are far less predictable in the investment world. Some cycles are prolonged, and others are condensed. There’s opportunity and risk in every one of them. Nobody perfectly delineates when one ends, and another begins. That presents an opportunity.

Opportunities to Learn

In the natural world, we combat the cold and early sunsets with heat and electricity. In capital markets, the tools have evolved as well.

Increasingly, end users are comfortable using (index) options to define the potential range of outcomes for a given period. They can “turn up the heat” with a specific strategy or potentially “protect against a cold streak” with increasing granularity.

Investors are grateful for access to tools that allow them to express a sentiment or define risk with more nuance than in previous times. I’m fortunate to be part of the effort to advocate for the informed use of index options.

So, with the holidays upon us, I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect on how “rich” my life is at the moment. That abundance is largely due to years of support from family, friends and colleagues.

Thank you is wildly insufficient.

A very happy Thanksgiving from Nasdaq’s Index Options team.

If you have questions, please reach out to Indexoptions@nasdaq.com.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Kevin Davitt

Nasdaq

Kevin Davitt is the Head of Nasdaq’s Index Options Content. Kevin spent years focused on options education with an index emphasis at Cboe Global Markets. Prior to his exchange work, Kevin traded index, equity, and commodity futures and options as a market maker at a variety of well-known firms. Davitt is a graduate of Marquette University. He’s a proud Evans Scholar alum and enjoys reading, live music, running and coaching youth baseball.

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