On Friday's I host a podcast called Volatility Views with the great Don Schlesinger. He has many great sayings, but perhaps his best is: "There are options that should be sold, and options that should not be sold." Right now, I think Don would clearly say now is not the time to sell options. The SPX is right near its all time high, not fundamentally important. But what is important is where IV's and HV's are currently trading.
The VIX closed at a 6 year low today, trading near 11.56 on the close.
As we head into the fiscal cliff and a potential European solution/crisis, one thing strikes me is risk not being priced into financial assets. Yes, the VIX is somewhat low today, trading at 15% or so. The VIX futures, though, and the VXV are both pricing in a little more volatility after the December cycle. We are not seeing the same thing priced into XLF and/or any of the major financial companies. Take a look at the price and IV chart for XLF. The Red is the 30 day vol; the yellow is the 60 day vol.
Our COO was on Bloomberg's Lunch Money today discussing trading and options order flow on Chesapeake Energy. You can watch the Video:
One of the things we have been trying to do, along with Mark's Bloomberg appearences, has been to try and explain the Why of the trade, in hopes it will educate potential option traders about options. Here is an explanation of the trade itself.
Google taught my options mentoring students a nice lesson on getting long premium into earnings; it usually pays to play the day before earnings, not the day of. Because the ATM straddle that was purchased on Wednesday was a huge winner, while the ATM straddle purchased yesterday was a loser. Thankfully, most students actually had on the long calendar we looked at during the pit report, so they all came out ahead.
Typically, after earnings, we will see implied volatility come out of a stock's options. This is because what was once unknown is now known. When there is less uncertainty, there is less volatility. And on Google’s move today, we can clearly see that volatility fell:
One of the problems my option mentoring students have understanding is the concept of relative premium price and 'cheap' options. But, if one wants to get a good options education, it is really key to understand the concept. To help you option traders, over the last few days, we have discussed how relative to risk, premium can become oversold. This happens when premium sellers go overboard risk assets get 'cheap' in the near term. I also stated that, around 11:00 or so EST, I thought we might see a bottom in premium selling. Well I was off by about 15 minutes as one can clearly see the point where premium got oversold:
At the end of the day today, the market sold off pretty big. while some might lament that 'the bear is returning', I look at it a different way. With every move in volatility, a new opportunity presents itself. I do not think the last week has been any different. While, yes the market has given away a whopping 4% (that was typed sarcastically) and the VIX rallied for a record 8 consecutive days (off of a 14 VIX I would add), I think this is a good thing for option traders.
Take a look at where the VIX had been over the last few weeks prior to last week: