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Introducing the VIX Options

Buying and selling volatility is nothing new for choices merchants. In spite of everything, most of them rely closely on volatility data to decide on their trades. Volatility represents the extent of modifications within the worth of a inventory, safety, commodity, or index over an outlined time interval. Volatility additionally helps present a metric for the magnitude of a worth transfer.

The Cboe Options Exchange Volatility Index, with its ticker image VIX, has been standard amongst merchants since its introduction in 1993. Choice merchants as soon as used common fairness or index options to commerce volatility, however many rapidly realized that was not excellent.

In February 2006, the Cboe rolled out the VIX choices, giving buyers extra direct entry to volatility. On this article, we check out the previous efficiency of the VIX and focus on the benefits supplied by VIX options.

Key Takeaways

  • The Cboe launched VIX choices in 2006 to offer buyers with extra direct entry to volatility.
  • The VIX measures the market’s expectation of 30-day S&P 500 volatility implicit within the costs of near-term S&P choices.
  • A hard and fast buying and selling vary and excessive volatility additionally assist make VIX choices helpful to speculators.
  • Sometimes, the VIX is negatively correlated with the S&P 500, permitting buyers to hedge towards market downturns.

What Is the VIX?

The VIX is an implied volatility index. It measures the market’s expectation of 30-day S&P 500 volatility implicit within the costs of near-term S&P choices. VIX choices give merchants a technique to commerce volatility without having to contemplate different components normally concerned in choices pricing. These complicating components sometimes embrace worth modifications within the underlying securities, dividends, and rates of interest. VIX choices enable merchants to focus nearly completely on buying and selling volatility.


Merchants have discovered the VIX very helpful in buying and selling, but it surely now offers excellent alternatives for each hedging and speculation. VIX may be a wonderful device within the quest for portfolio diversification. Diversification, which most buyers discover extremely fascinating, is helpful provided that the securities chosen aren’t correlated. In different phrases, should you personal ten massive tech shares that have a tendency to maneuver collectively, then you definitely aren’t diversified.

Destructive Correlation between VIX and S&P

One benefit of the VIX is that it has a unfavorable correlation with the S&P 500. In keeping with the Cboe, the VIX has had a unfavorable correlation of -.69 with the S&P 500 Index (SPX) since 1990. In different phrases, the VIX has moved reverse of the S&P 500 Index 69% of the time since 1990. The unfavorable correlation between the VIX and SPX was larger throughout difficult years in 2008 (-.83) and 2018 (-.88).

From 1990 to Sept. 2019, the SPX dropped greater than 6.5% on eight dates, and on these dates, the common up-move within the VIX Index was 25%. The unfavorable relationship between the VIX and SPX could make it a wonderful diversification device, offering market catastrophe insurance coverage.

VIX Name and Put Choices

Shopping for VIX call options (offers the holder proper to purchase the VIX) is perhaps a good higher hedge towards drops within the S&P 500 than shopping for SPX put options (offers the holder the precise to promote the VIX).

The chart beneath reveals how the VIX strikes in the other way of the SPX throughout its important strikes down. The VIX reached a closing excessive of 80.86 throughout the 2008 monetary disaster. That file stood for over a decade. Nevertheless, the VIX reached a brand new file excessive shut of 82.69 throughout the bear market of 2020.

Investopedia / Sabrina Jiang


The above chart reveals how the VIX trades inside a given vary, bottoming out round ten. If it have been to go to zero, it will imply that the expectation was for no day by day motion within the SPX. Then again, the VIX spiked upward to above 80 when the SPX crashed. Nevertheless, the VIX can’t keep there both. A constantly excessive VIX would suggest that the market expectation was for substantial modifications over an prolonged timeframe.

A hard and fast buying and selling vary signifies that VIX choices supply wonderful alternatives for hypothesis. Shopping for calls, shopping for bull call spreads, or promoting bull put spreads when the VIX bottoms out may help a dealer capitalize on strikes up in volatility or down within the S&P 500. Equally, shopping for places, shopping for bear put spreads, or promoting bear call spreads may help a dealer revenue when the VIX tops out.

Regardless of their benefits for speculators, VIX choices are high-risk investments and may play a comparatively small position in most portfolios.

Nevertheless, the worth of the choices just isn’t derived instantly from the “spot” VIX. As a substitute, it’s based mostly on the ahead worth utilizing present and subsequent month choices. Vix choices can supply a better volatility fee than some inventory choices obtainable to buyers. An instrument that trades inside a variety can’t go to zero, and its excessive volatility can present excellent buying and selling alternatives.

Nevertheless, volatility is a double-edged sword, which means simply because the VIX can rise rapidly, resulting in monetary beneficial properties, it could additionally drop rapidly, resulting in monetary losses for buyers.

VIX Information

In contrast to normal fairness choices, which expire on the third Friday of each month, VIX choices expire on one Wednesday each month. Vix choices are traded often, offering buyers with good liquidity, which means buyers can normally purchase and promote with out disruptions or delays when a dealer fills a commerce.

For instance, within the first week of October 2021, VIX choices had a median day by day buying and selling quantity (ADV) of 420,000 for the week, which was increased than the earlier week’s ADV of 320,000. Though there’s ample liquidity with VIX choices, it does not assure that there will not be market disruptions.

The Backside Line

VIX choices are highly effective devices that merchants can add to their arsenals. They isolate volatility, commerce in a variety, have excessive volatility of their very own, and can’t go to zero. For many who are new to choices buying and selling, the VIX choices are much more thrilling. Most skilled professionals who give attention to volatility buying and selling are each shopping for and promoting choices. Nevertheless, new merchants usually discover that their brokerage corporations don’t enable them to promote choices. By shopping for VIX calls, places, or spreads, new merchants acquire entry to a greater variety of volatility trades.

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