What Is The VIX Volatility Index?


But to understand how the Volatility Index works, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of options trading. When you purchase options, you’re buying the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell a stock at a specified date and price. In times of uncertainty, investors will pay a premium for what’s essentially a form of insurance. Higher options prices across the overall stock market indicate that investors expect heightened volatility.

For instance, in the three months between Aug. 8, 2017, and Nov. 8, 2017, the VIX was up 19%—seemingly suggesting anxiety among market participants and implying that the S&P 500 should be on a downward trajectory. The VIX is an index run by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, now known as Cboe, that measures the stock market’s expectation for volatility over the next 30 days based on option prices for the S&P 500. Volatility is a statistical measure based on how much an asset’s price moves in either direction and is often used to measure the riskiness of an asset or security. One of the most popular and accessible of these is the ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY), which is based on VIX futures contracts with a 30-day maturity.

  1. Investing in the VIX directly is not possible, but you can purchase ETFs that track the index as a way to speculate on future changes in the VIX or as a tool for hedging.
  2. It’s simply a statistical measure of price changes for a security or an index.
  3. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool’s premium services.
  4. The VIX, formally known as the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index, measures how much volatility professional investors think the S&P 500 index will experience over the next 30 days.

For people watching the VIX index, it’s understood that the S&P 500 stands in for “the stock market” or “the market” as a whole. When the VIX index moves higher, this reflects the fact that professional investors are responding to more price volatility in the S&P 500 in particular and markets more generally. When the VIX declines, investors are betting there will be smaller price moves https://www.forex-world.net/software-development/hire-the-best-freelance-asp-net-mvc-developers/ up or down in the S&P 500, which implies calmer markets and less uncertainty. It tends to rise during times of market stress, making it an effective hedging tool for active traders. Though it can’t be invested in directly, you can purchase ETFs that track the VIX. When its level gets to 20 or higher, expectations are that volatility will be above normal over the coming weeks.

But VIX-tracking funds are typically used by day traders and tend to be extraordinarily risky. The VIX can help investors predict short-term performance, but the fluctuations shouldn’t concern long-term investors. Founded in 1993, The Motley Fool is a financial services company dedicated to making the world smarter, happier, and richer. The Motley Fool reaches millions of people every month through our premium investing solutions, free guidance and market analysis on Fool.com, top-rated podcasts, and non-profit The Motley Fool Foundation. Any estimates based on past performance do not a guarantee future performance, and prior to making any investment you should discuss your specific investment needs or seek advice from a qualified professional. Market professionals rely on a wide variety of data sources and tools to stay on top of the market.

What Is the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX)?

The VIX index tracks the tendency of the S&P 500 to move away from and then revert to the mean. When the stock markets appear relatively calm but the VIX index spikes higher, professionals are betting that prices on the S&P 500—and thereby the stock market as a whole—may be moving higher or lower in the near term. When the VIX moves lower, investors may view this as a sign the index is reverting to the mean, with the period of greater volatility soon to end. Prices are weighted to gauge whether investors believe the S&P 500 index will be gaining ground or losing value over the near term.

How Does the VIX Measure Market Volatility?

But this compensation does not influence the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you. Before investing in any VIX exchange-traded products, you should understand some of the issues that can come with them. Certain VIX-based ETNs and ETFs have less liquidity than you’d expect from more familiar exchange traded securities.

If prices gain a great deal very quickly, or fall very far, very rapidly, the principle of mean reversion suggests they should snap back to their long-term average before long. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is a measure of expected price fluctuations in the S&P 500 Index options over the next 30 days. The VIX, often referred to as the “fear index,” is calculated in real time by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism. She has worked in multiple cities covering breaking news, politics, education, and more. It should be noted that these are rough guidelines ⏤ unexpected events can throw a wrench into markets and a low VIX level today could be followed by a period of extreme volatility if circumstances change.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, is an index that gauges the volatility investors expect in the U.S. stock market. Rather, it’s a leading indicator that measures the level of stock market volatility expected by investors. In this article, we’ll delve into what the VIX measures, how it’s calculated, and whether you should use it in your investment decisions. Just keep in mind that with investing, there’s no way to predict future stock market performance or time the market. The VIX is merely a suggestion, and it’s been proven to be wrong about the future direction of markets nearly as often as it’s been right. That’s why most everyday investors are best served by regularly investing in diversified, low-cost index funds and letting dollar-cost averaging smooth out any pricing swings over the long term.

How Can You Invest in the VIX?

The VIX, which was first introduced in 1993, is sometimes called the “fear index” because it can be used by traders and investors to gauge market sentiment and see how fearful, or uncertain, the market is. The VIX typically spikes during or in anticipation of a stock market correction. Large institutional investors hedge their portfolios using S&P 500 options to position themselves as winners whether the market goes up or down, and the VIX index follows these trades to gauge market volatility. The VIX is considered a reflection of investor sentiment and has in the past been a leading indicator of a dip in the S&P 500, but that relationship may have changed in recent times.

The VIX is one the main indicators for understanding when the market is possibly headed for a big move up or down or when it may be ready to quiet down after a period of volatility. It’s important to note here that while volatility can have negative connotations, like greater risk, more stress, deeper uncertainty or bigger market declines, volatility itself is a neutral term. It’s simply a statistical measure of price changes for a security or an index. Greater volatility means that an index or security is seeing bigger price changes—higher or lower—over shorter periods of time. But for those who are more inclined to trade and speculate, ETFs that track the VIX can be a useful tool. When uncertainty and fear hits the market, stocks generally fall, and your portfolio could take a hit.

Perhaps the most straightforward way to invest in the VIX is with exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) based on VIX futures. As exchange-traded products, you can buy and sell these securities like stocks, greatly simplifying your VIX investing strategy. There are a range of different securities based https://www.forexbox.info/trading-system-and-methods/ on the CBOE Volatility Index that provide investors with exposure to the VIX. Sentiment plays a big role in decision making for the stock markets, and to that extent, it could be a good idea to glance at the VIX. However, the index is far from perfect, and investors should consider how much weight they want to peg on it.

Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range, can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range of offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service. However, it’s impossible to purchase a basket of securities that track the VIX.

But having a small amount of money invested in an ETF that tracks the VIX can help dampen the blow. Investing in the VIX directly is not possible, but you can purchase ETFs that track the index as a way to speculate on future changes in the VIX or as a tool for hedging. This isn’t something that will make sense for most investors who are working to meet a long-term goal such incredible charts as saving for retirement. Miranda Marquit has been covering personal finance, investing and business topics for almost 15 years. She has contributed to numerous outlets, including NPR, Marketwatch, U.S. News & World Report and HuffPost. Miranda is completing her MBA and lives in Idaho, where she enjoys spending time with her son playing board games, travel and the outdoors.

It’s important to emphasize, however, that the VIX measures implied volatility, i.e., the level of volatility the market is anticipating. Although the index can provide helpful information, investor sentiment isn’t always correct. In fact, the VIX tends to overestimate market volatility by about 4% to 5% on average, according to Fidelity.


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