Gary Katz, president and CEO of the International Securities Exchange (ISE), has seen the options markets change dramatically since he co-founded the all-electronic options exchange in 2000.
His exchange launched ISE Gemini in August, representing the 12th US options exchange. Katz sat down with JLN editor-in-chief Jim Kharouf to talk about where the US equity options business is today, why almost flat volumes isn’t a bad thing, and how this industry can keep growing, even in a low volatility, low interest rate environment.
In the first three quarters of 2013, US equity volumes are down, as are futures volumes. But US equity options volumes are virtually flat, up 1.4 percent overall and down 0.24 percent counting just equity options, not index options. To Katz, that shows the strength of the US options markets, especially in difficult times for stocks.
“The industry itself is telling you that it has been able to hold volumes flat, in an environment when overall volumes in stocks are down,” Katz said.
Katz added that options are outperforming underlying stocks because of a number of successful product launches by options markets over the past year, including: weeklies, dollar strikes and more expiration months. This has allowed traders to trade single names in a more flexible manner.
Katz has long been a proponent of growing the options pie. Today, he said the challenges are great. The technology glitches at various stock and options markets in recent months has not served customers well, as market makers put out wider spreads for traders to protect themselves. Katz says the potential of adding “kill switches” and other technical safeguards will help bolster confidence and subsequently, volumes.