Trump Tweets Lead to New Interest Rate Volatility Index: ‘Volfefe’

It was 12:06 am on May 31, 2017, when President Trump brought the Twitterverse to its knees.

He tweeted:

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe”

Then he went dark.  Those following his tweets wondered two things.  What does “covfefe” mean, and is the president okay? They waited for hours, speculating on both fronts, until at 6:09am Trump finally tweeted:

“Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”

By all accounts it looks like a misspelled word, or an unfinished tweet that was sent in error late at night, but the word “covfefe” drew instant attention and became part of jokes, memes, and hilarity on twitter, including a user who posted “Ask your doctor if #covfefe is right for you.”

Now J.P. Morgan has found another use for a nearby term, “Volfefe.”

Trump’s tweets, which have in recent months veered toward market-sensitive topics such as trade and monetary policy, have increasingly moved U.S. rates markets, analyst Munier Salem said in a note on Friday.

Analysts at the firm have quantified how the president’s tweets, especially those using the words “China,” “billion,” “products,” “dollars,” “tariffs” and “trade,” move the markets.

In the report, which runs well over 4,000 words, J.P. Morgan analysts use machine learning techniques and their own volatility model to show how the president’s 280-character missives served to raise investors’ expectations for future moves in the U.S. rates market.

JP Morgan’s newly built “Volfefe” index analyzes a rolling sample of recent tweets to judge how much effect the president’s remarks have had on volatility.

The index can explain a measurable fraction of moves in the market’s forecast of likely movement in rates, particularly the shorter duration 2-year and 5-year rates, the analysts said.

These aren’t the most popular or retweeted missives from the president, just the ones that appear most likely to move the markets.

The U.S. dollar – whose recent strength against major currencies has drawn much of the president’s ire – weakening against the euro and the Japanese yen is the most pronounced reaction to the president’s tweets about the greenback, analysts at Citigroup said in a Friday note.

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