Guest post by Peter Tchir.
First, today’s move seemed bullish to me. Yes we failed to hold the highs of the days. That isn’t good. But we didn’t break to new lows as we closed and that’s not bad given all the concerns about Europe. Even more importantly we didn’t completely give up when Obama made his sheech. I can’t be bothered to correct that typo because Obama was so disappointing.
I’m not sure that I would consider the election a strong endorsement of his policies. If anything I viewed the election as reasonably split and indicative of a divisive country. He definitely won, so he shouldn’t capitulate but seriously, isn’t it time for some for cooperation? Not that the republicans were any better. I can’t tell whether they are behaving as sore losers, or arrogant winners that somehow haven’t accepted they lost.
We need to do a few things. Work together to create a reasonable plan forward. It won’t make everyone happy but we need to do what is best for the economy, and to some extent, the market. I don’t agree with everything that Ben does, but while he is out there trying to promote growth through liquidity the politicians have been messing it up. I didn’t expect hugs and kisses on day 1 but the politicians need to understand the people aren’t happy, and the only real mandate, from those in the center, is to figure out some useful compromise.
Of all the issues discussed in this space, undoubtedly the one that captures the imagination of most readers is the subject of VIX-based exchange-traded products. I get more questions about the construction of these products, how they respond to the VIX futures term structure, what factors influence performance, etc.
For these reasons I thought it might be instructive to update my VIX ETP landscape chart and include performance data from the September 14th market closing high of SPX 1465 to today’s close of SPX 1377. During that period, the SPX declined 6.0% on a close-to-close basis, while the VIX jumped 27.4% during the same period.
So how did the VIX ETPs fare while the market was selling off?
In examining the graphic below, the first thing you probably notice is that only 5 of the 19 VIX ETPs were able to manage gains during the selloff. In fact the average (mean) VIX ETP performance was a disappointing -4.9%, while the median return was -6.7%. Even more interesting, the inverse volatility products actually outperformed their long volatility counterparts and had the top performer of all, the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Medium-Term ETN (ZIV).
Guest post by Vix and more.
Anxiety over the outcome of the U.S. fiscal cliff topped the list of investor fears about the stock market for the third week in a row, outpolling the European sovereign debt crisis, which finished a distant second, and U.S. elections, which edged out weak earnings for third place.
With 65% of responses coming from U.S. voters, the poll results were once again skewed toward an Americentric perspective. Three weeks into this poll, it appears as if geographical and temporal proximity are having a strong effect on respondents. For third week in a row, U.S., respondents were much more concerned about events in their own country. For example, the fiscal cliff outpolled the European sovereign debt crisis by 14.8% in the U.S., while non-U.S. respondents had these two issues deadlocked in a tie for first place. Similarly, 13.9% of U.S. respondents cited U.S. elections as their top worry, while just 5.3% of non-U.S. respondents placed U.S. elections at the top of the list.
Guest post by Vix and more. Given all the drama in the euro zone, not to mention the fiscal cliff, the various difficulties in China, continued unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa, etc. it is more than a little surprising that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has failed to trade above 30.00 this year.
In fact, with a maximum VIX of just 27.73 for the year, 2012 could mark the first time in 15 years (if one excludes the great Greenspan liquidity bubble from 2004 – 2006) that the VIX has not made it out of the twenties.
How does 27.73 compare as an annual high in the VIX? Since 1990, the mean high in the VIX has been 37.90 (inflated somewhat by the 2008 high of 89.53), while the median high VIX has still been a reasonably lofty 35.93.
This is not to suggest that the markets have been mispricing SPX options (and therefore the VIX) for most of 2012, only to note that there are certainly quite a few chapters remaining in the European sovereign debt crisis and the fiscal cliff drama, several of which will unfold before the year is over.
Guest post by Vix and more.
Since its launch in August 2008, the CBOE EuroCurrency Volatility Index (ticker EVZ, sometimes known simply as the “euro VIX”), which is based on the FXE ETF, has toiled in relative obscurity compared to some of the more famous volatility indices.
Given all the fears about the European sovereign debt crisis over the past few years, I find the lack of interest in EVZ to be surprising. After all, in thinking about the euro zone one of the most basic questions has been whether or not the euro will survive. Further, outside of the U.S. at least, the future of the euro zone is still considered to be the biggest risk to the stock market.
With all this in mind, I was looking at EVZ data this evening and discovered that today marks five years since the beginning of the historical EVZ data provided by the CBOE (reconstructed data fills the gap from November 2007 to the August 2008 launch.)
The chart below shows the history of closes in EVZ (blue line), as well as comparative closing prices for the VIX (red line.) I have annotated the chart to highlight two pieces of information:
What is the number one fear concerning investors at the moment? Vix and more provides some fresh facts.
For the second week in a row, investors cited the U.S. fiscal cliff as the top risk to the stock market, followed closely by fears about the European sovereign debt crisis. Concerns about weak earnings, a distant third last week, gained significant ground as Apple (AAPL) and others continued to report disappointing earnings and revenues while guiding future expectations lower.
As was the case last week, geography appears to have a significant influence on results, with a clear Americentric bias coming from U.S.-based respondents. In the U.S., for instance, concerns about the fiscal cliff outpolled the European sovereign debt crisis by 9.5%, but outside of the U.S. the European sovereign debt crisis topped concerns about the fiscal cliff by 8.2%. Similarly, 15.2% of U.S. respondents cited U.S. election uncertainty as the biggest risk to stocks while just 5.5% of non-U.S. respondents judged U.S. elections to be the top risk factor.
Guest post by Vix and more.
Today I closed the books on the first VIX and More Fear Poll, which I consider to be an unqualified success and a first step in establishing longitudinal data about the types of geopolitical, macroeconomic, technical and other issues that make investors fearful, anxious and uncertain about the future of the stock market.
In a battle that went down to the wire, 28.7% investors voted the U.S. fiscal cliff as their #1 concern right now, followed closely by fears about the European sovereign debt crisis, which 27.1% labeled as their top issue. The prospect of a weak earnings season was a distant third at 13.1%.
Guest post by Vix and more.
Investors who have been trading the VIX futures, VIX options and VIX exchange-traded products in 2012 have no doubt observed that there has been a wide gulf between the volatility predicted by the VIX front month futures and the back month futures. How wide? Well the graphic below shows the average (mean) normalized term structure for each year since the VIX futures were launched, back in 2004. In normalizing the data, I have set the average front month VIX futures contract to 100 and have expressed the averages of the second through seven months as multiples of the front month.
[Note that while the VIX futures were launched in 2004, consecutive VIX futures contracts for the first six months were not available until October 2006, hence the dotted lines for these years to reflect the erratic nature of the data. Also, I have included the seventh month contract in the calculations because this month is critical to the calculations of a number of VIX ETPs, including VXZ, VIXM, ZIV, etc.]
What about that “extreme” reading of VIX term structure. Bill Luby of Vix and more starts the explanation process.
Before I dive into a series of posts about the VIX futures, I think it is important to add some context in the form of several observations about the relationship between the VIX and the historical volatility (HV) of the S&P 500 index. In the absence of any information about the future, it turns out that historical volatility (a.k.a. realized volatility or statistical volatility) can provide a reasonably accurate measure of future volatility. In fact, it is more difficult than one might imagine to incorporate information about the future to come up with a better estimate of future volatility than what can be gleaned just by extrapolating from recent realized volatility.
Looking at historical data, the VIX has an established history of overestimating future realized volatility. In fact, in the 23 years of VIX historical data, there was only one year – 2008 – in which realized volatility turned out to be higher than that which was predicted by the VIX.
As the chart below shows, early traders made a habit of dramatically overestimating future volatility. From 1990-1996, for instance, the VIX overshot realized volatility by an average of 49%. Since 1997, the magnitude of that overshoot has dropped dramatically, to about 24%, as investors apparently began to realize that they had been overpaying for portfolio protection in particular and for options in general.