The news on the networks is that this is the 1st down week in some time for the SPX. All told the SPX gave away a touch over 1% and was down over 2% at certain points. Yet the VIX has barely rallied and the June VIX futures haven't moved. Take a look at this graph from VIXcentral.com:
We all know the VIX has been in a range for some time. This blog has on several occasions argued that it may be that way for a while. Yet, even with the relatively stable and lower VIX traders have been pointing toward the 'vol of vol' for high option premiums. This is a somewhat flawed argument. Yes the VIX options do expire into a cash settle, but the real underlying is the VIX futures which are less volatile than the cash market even some of the more advanced programs look at HV in terms of cash VIX instead of the futures.
Based on how much things are moving around in the cash, VIX option premiums are at some of the most expensive levels I have ever seen. Take a look at the relationship of 20 day HV and 30 day IV in VIX options.
10 Days ago we posted on this blog that bond volatility was completely in the toilet. In fact, it was the lowest level we had seen in 2 years. You can read the piece here. We thought that the TLT might simply continue to drift lower. In fact just the opposite happened. Take a look at the pop in TLT Vol that we have seen in less than 10 days.
When traders see a wide spread between the VIX and Front month futures they often get confused or even worried. When in fact the opposite is usually true. Last month with 8 days to go to VIX expiration the VIX closed at 13.19, the April VIX future closed 13.60. A mere .50 premium to the cash. The VIX future ended up settling at 15.64. The month before that the VIX closed 11.56 (it’s lowest since 2006) the March VIX futures closed 12.95 on their way to a settle near 12.50. Today the curve looks as such:
As the SPX continues its rally though 1630 and toward 1650, may a novice is asking why the VIX isn’t touching all-time lows. The answer is simple: volatility
When the VIX got to its recent low realized volatility was in the toilet. We had been through about 2 straight months of nothingness. 10 Day HV was near 5 and both 20 and 30 day HV were near 10%. Looking at HV now we can see a clear difference. 10 day HV is closer to 10% and 20 and 30 day are actually trading at a premium to VIX.
We have the market flirting with all-time highs again today and investors should be beginning to wonder if the financial crisis is over. Asia looks ok, India ok, Latin America ok and the US recovering but in a pokey big government way. Europe is still a basket case but that is mostly due to the reluctance of a good chunk of the population to work for a living and for the governments to stop paying for it. At least short term the Euro should stay intact while the drudgery of budget discipline starts to happen. While I won’t declare the financial crisis dead there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for that. TARP was a success, Fannie and Freddie could pay back what they owe and home mortgage payments are now cheaper than rents
The last two weeks have been interesting for VIX and VIX futures watchers, for several reasons. In relation to the VIX, the realized volatility has been above implied for about 2 weeks and appears that it might stay there for a while.
I wrote the first installment of this series over two years ago, promising to explain the practical ramifications of the the basics that I’d covered using the tools of the trade. After enough procrastinating, I’ve finally gotten around to doing the second installment.
One of the most followed stocks on the NASDAQ, FB, had earnings last night. There was HUGE volume yesterday ahead of earnings and May3 weekly volatility got to 150% ATM. FB actually made a decent move by the end of the day today, moving up to near 29.00 a share. But, those who bought upside calls are probably NOT happy. Take a look at a shot of the FB May3 29 calls from yesterday.