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.

10 Things You Should Know About VIX


The CBOE Volatility Index, known by its ticker symbol VIX, is a popular measure of the stock market's expectation of volatility implied by S&P 500 index options, calculated and published by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).VIX is considered by many a "Fear Index".

I have had quite a few requests to present some introductory material on the VIX, so with that in mind I offer up the following in question and answer format:

Q: What is the VIX?
A: In brief, the VIX is the ticker symbol for the volatility index that the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) created to calculate the implied volatility of options on the S&P 500 index (SPX) for the next 30 calendar days. The formal name of the VIX is the CBOE Volatility Index.

Q: How is the VIX calculated?
A: The CBOE utilizes a wide variety of strike prices for SPX puts and calls to calculate the VIX. In order to arrive at a 30 day implied volatility value, the calculation blends options expiring on two different dates, with the result being an interpolated implied volatility number. For the record, the CBOE does not use the Black-Scholes option pricing model. Details of the VIX calculations are available from the CBOE in their VIX white paper.

Q: Why should I care about the VIX?
A: There are several reasons to pay attention to the VIX. Most investors who monitor the VIX do so because it provides important information about investor sentiment that can be helpful in evaluating potential market turning points. A smaller group of investors use VIX options and VIX futures to hedge their portfolios; other investors use those same options and futures as well as VIX exchange traded notes (primarily VXX) to speculate on the future direction of the market.

Q: What is the history of the VIX?
A: The VIX was originally launched in 1993, with a slightly different calculation than the one that is currently employed. The ‘original VIX’ (which is still tracked under the ticker VXO) differs from the current VIX in two main respects: it is based on the S&P 100 (OEX) instead of the S&P 500; and it targets at the money options instead of the broad range of strikes utilized by the VIX. The current VIX was reformulated on September 22, 2003, at which time the original VIX was assigned the VXO ticker. VIX futures began trading on March 26, 2004; VIX options followed on February 24, 2006; and two VIX exchange traded notes (VXX and VXZ) were added to the mix on January 30, 2009.

Q: Why is the VIX sometimes called the “fear index”?
A: The CBOE has actively encouraged the use of the VIX as a tool for measuring investor fear in their marketing of the VIX and VIX-related products. As the CBOE puts it, “since volatility often signifies financial turmoil, [the] VIX is often referred to as the ‘investor fear gauge’”. The media has been quick to latch onto the headline value of the VIX as a fear indicator and has helped to reinforce the relationship between the VIX and investor fear.

image.jpeg

Q: How does the VIX differ from other measures of volatility? 
A: The VIX is the most widely known of a number of volatility indices. The CBOE alone recognizes nine volatility indices, the most popular of which are the VIX, the VXO, the VXN (for the NASDAQ-100 index), and the RVX (for the Russell 2000 small cap index). In addition to volatility indices for US equities, there are volatility indices for foreign equities (VDAXVSTOXXVSMI, VX1, MVXVAEXVBELVCAC, etc.) as well as lesser known volatility indices for other asset classes such as oil, gold and currencies.

Q: What are normal, high and low readings for the VIX?
A: This question is more complicated than it sounds, because some people focus on absolute VIX numbers and some people focus on relative VIX numbers. On an absolute basis, looking at a VIX as reformulated in 2003, but using data reverse engineered going back to 1990, the mean is a little bit over 20, the high is just below 90 and the low is just below 10. Just for fun, using the VXO (original VIX formulation), it is possible to calculate that the VXO peaked at about 172 on Black Monday, October 19, 1987.

Q: Can I trade the VIX?
A: At this time it is not possible to trade the cash or spot VIX directly. The only way to take a position on the VIX is through the use of VIX options and futures or on two VIX ETNs that are based on VIX futures: VXX, which targets VIX futures with 1 month to maturity; and VXZ, which targets 5 months to maturity. An inverse VIX futures ETN, XXV, was launched on 7/19/10. This product targets VIX futures with 1 month to maturity. As of May 2010, options have been available on the VXX and VXZ ETNs. 

Q: How can the VIX be used as a hedge?
A: The VIX is appropriate as a hedging tool because it has a strong negative correlation to the SPX – and is generally about four times more volatile. For this reason, portfolio managers often find that buying of out of the money calls on the VIX to be a relatively inexpensive way to hedge long portfolio positions. Similar hedges can be constructed using VIX futures or the VIX ETNs.

Q: How do investors use the VIX to time the market?
A: This is a subject for a much larger space, but in general, the VIX tends to trend in the very short-term, mean-revert over the short to intermediate term, and move in cycles over a long-term time frame. The devil, of course, is in the details.

Bill Luby is Chief Investment Officer of Luby Asset Management LLC, an investment management company in Tiburon, California. He also publishes the VIX and More blog and an investment newsletter. His research and trading interests focus on volatility, market sentiment, technical analysis, ETPs and options. Bill was previously a business strategy consultant. You can follow Bill Twitter. This article was originally published here.

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

  • Options: Debt and Net Return

    This is the last in a series of articles about how dividends affect option value and volatility. In picking stocks for options trading, what are your criteria? Analysis of dividends, debt and net return – all fundamental tests – help identify strong value companies (and lower-volatility options) versus weak, high-risk stocks.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 166 views
  • Can you "Time" the Steady Momentum PutWrite Strategy?

    As a financial advisor, investment advisor, hedge fund manager, model developer, and newsletter signal provider for over a decade now, I've had the opportunity to see quite a bit of human nature in action.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 200 views
  • How Steady Momentum Captures Multiple Risk Premiums

    Our Steady Momentum PutWrite strategy attempts to outperform the CBOE PUT index, which writes cash secured puts on the S&P 500. An investable version of this strategy can be purchased with the ETF PUTW. The historical data for PUT extends back more than 30 years, highlighting how writing puts can be an attractive strategy.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 438 views
  • The Effect of Dividends on Options Pricing

    The theory of dividends and underlying stock prices is simple: The underlying price is expected to decline on ex-dividend date, by the amount of the dividend. As a result, option prices should decline as well. Under this theory, calls for higher dividend stocks should be valued lower and puts should be valued higher.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 313 views
  • 5 Ways To Identify Fake Forex Broker Reviews

    Many traders or future traders shop for a broker to work with and find endless reviews on the web, and not all are genuine. Here are 5 ways ways to separate the good from the bad. There are lots of sites that specialize in forex broker reviews and lots of talk about brokers in various forums.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 180 views
  • 3 Dividend traps to Watch For

    Dividends are almost universally viewed as positive aspects of stock selection and options trading. The higher the dividend yield, the more positive. But does this ignore some dangers in dividend trends? In fact, there are three ways in which dividends can mislead traders and create positive impressions when in fact, the news is negative.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 248 views
  • Dividends and Options

    Steady Options has received numerous inquires into how dividends impact options, option prices, and the owners or option contracts. The impact of dividends should be understood by any option contract trader.  Fortunately, the rules for option contracts and dividends are clear and straightforward. 

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 283 views
  • When Can You “Trust” a Backtest?

    There's a joke in the financial industry that "nobody has ever seen a bad backtest". There certainly are bad ones, but nobody ever markets them. They just get thrown in the trash. Even academics can fall prey to this.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 230 views
  • Increasing Yield Through Covered Calls

    When starting out with options, a natural place to begin is with covered calls. It’s a very easy to understand strategy for those that are familiar with stock ownership. The strategy involves buying a stock in lots of 100 shares. The total size will depend on you account size and how much exposure you want to take.

    By GavinMcMaster,

    • 0 comments
    • 327 views
  • Alternative Investments: Real Estate Construction

    One of the most common complaints received from investors relates to low yields, low returns and/or the inability to have a reasonable cash flow from investments. This is particularly true for investors who feel that they have too much invested in the stock market.  Many want to diversify into real estate of one form or another.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 214 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!




Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs