Low-cost Protection — One Year After VIX Peak

AUG. 9, 2012 — A year ago, on August 8, 2011, the CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) closed at 48.00, its highest closing value since March 9, 2009.

Yesterday, on August 8, 2012, the VIX closed at 15.32 (a level that was 68% lower than the year-earlier level).

Yesterday Reuters published an article is entitled “Time may be ripe to buy low-cost option protection.” The article noted that now could be a good time for investors to explore the possibility of buying SPX puts or VIX calls for protection.


The Reuters article noted that —

“ …The summer months are often a slower period, when many traders head for the beaches and volatility typically wanes before the historically volatile months of September and October.   This is often reflected in the CBOE Volatility Index or VIX … ‘Now is a good time to buy downside puts on the S&P 500 index because they can increase in value if the market falls and if volatility moves up,’ said WhatsTrading.com options strategist Frederic Ruffy. …”

According to Bloomberg, with the S&P 500 Index at around 1400 on the morning of August 9, 2012, for the SPX options expiring in 44 days on Sept. 22, here are rough estimates of implied volatilities –

  • around 18 i.v. for the SPX 1300 puts,
  • around 16 i.v. for the SPX 1350 puts,
  • around 14 i.v. for the SPX 1400 puts.

Out-of-the money SPX puts often have higher implied volatilities than at-the-money SPX puts because of the SPX skew and demand by investors for portfolio protection.

Here is a 13-month chart for the VIX Index, which can provide some clues to the price of SPX options.


The Reuters article also noted —

“…’A similar trade would be to buy VIX call options which are also cheap right now,’ said Bill Luby, a private investor who writes the “VIX and More” blog in San Francisco. ‘VIX call options will increase in value if the market has a sharp downward correction or investors view there is more risk on the horizon.’ …”

One tool that can be helpful to VIX options investors is the CBOE VIX of VIX Index (VVIX). www.cboe.com/VVIX The VVIX Index is an indicator of the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX®.

Here is a chart showing the past 13 months of VVIX daily closes — 


CBOE offers options on four volatility indexes —

VIX – CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) Options
GVZ – CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index Options
VXEEM – CBOE Emerging Markets ETF Volatility Index Options
VXEWZ – CBOE Brazil ETF Volatility Index Options

The CFE offers futures on a number of volatility indexes, including VIX, OVX, NDX, GVZ, VXEEM, and VXEWZ.  http://cfe.cboe.com



Apple Earnings Fall Short, as VXAPL Index Closes at 34.34

Tuesday, July 24  –  Apple, Inc. announced its quarterly earnings today.  Bloomberg news noted —

“Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s profit and sales fell short of analysts’ projections for only the second time since 2003 as customers held off on iPhone purchases while waiting for a new model to be introduced later in the year.  …   The iPhone is Apple’s biggest source of revenue. ‘Every quarter that Apple isn’t launching a new iPhone it’s a transition quarter,’ said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group. “That’s the key product that matters.”  Apple, the world’s largest company by market value, fell in extended trading. …” www.bloomberg.com


Investors who use AAPL options to manage risk and enhance income can check intraday updates of the CBOE Equity VIX on Apple (VXAPL) www.cboe.com/VXAPL to gain a better understanding of changes in AAPL implied volatility. Th eVXAPL closed at 34.34 today.



In the chart below, note that the spread between VXAPL and VIX indexes can vary substantially.  For example, on Nov. 3, 2011, the VIX was slightly higher than the VXAPL Index, while yesterday, the VXAPL closed at 34.82 and VIX closed at 18.62.  The average spread between the VXAPL Index and VIX Index has been about 10.3 points.   VXAPL and VIX


AAPL’s stock price reached daily high closing prices of 144.19 on March 22, 2000, and 636.23 on April 9, 2012.








For more information about the VXAPL Index, please visit www.cboe.com/VXAPL

VIX Up 12.6%, as 20 Vol Indexes Rose Today

Monday, July 23 — While many stock indexes plunged today, twenty of CBOE’s volatility indexes rose.  Visit www.cboe.com/volatility to see a list of indexes with updated delayed quotes.

Here is a list of percentage changes for some volatility indexes on July 23 –

  • 12.6%       VIX® – CBOE Volatility Index®  www.cboe.com/VIX
  • 6.3%         VVIX – CBOE VIX of VIX Index  www.cboe.com/VVIX
  • 5.1%         OVX – CBOE Crude Oil ETF Volatility Index  www.cboe.com/OVX
  • 8.0%         GVZ – CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index www.cboe.com/GVZ
  • 12.9%       VXEEM  – CBOE Emerging Markets ETF Volatility Index www.cboe.com/VXEEM
  • 5.6%         VXSLV – CBOE Silver ETF Volatility Index  www.cboe.com/VXSLV
  • 10.4%       VXFXI – CBOE China ETF Volatility Index  www.cboe.com/VXFXI
  • 12.3%       VXEWZ – CBOE Brazil ETF Volatility Index www.cboe.com/VXEWZ
  • 3.7%         VXAPL – CBOE Equity VIX® on Apple  www.cboe.com/VXAPL
  • 8.2%         VXGOG – CBOE Equity VIX® on Google www.cboe.com/VXGOG

Today’s % changes for two of S&P’s VIX futures indexes were —

  • 8.3%         S&P 500 VIX Short-term Futures Index (TR)
  • 3.9%         S&P 500 VIX Mid-term Futures Index (TR)


In a table at www.cboe.com/VIX on July 23rd with delayed quotes, the VIX spot index rose 2.35 to 18.62, while the VIX Aug. futures rose 1.63 to 20.78. 


Below is a list of the 11 trading days over the past year (July 23, 2011 – July 23, 2012) on which the VIX Index had daily moves of more than 15% up or down.   Interestingly, the VIX had 10 up-moves of more than 15%, but only one down-move of over 15%.  Delayed quotes for VIX spot and futures prices are at www.cboe.com/VIX.

  • 8-Aug-2011         50.0%
  • 4-Aug-2011         35.4%
  • 18-Aug-2011       35.1%
  • 9-Nov-2011         31.6%
  • 10-Aug-2011       22.6%
  • 31-Oct-2011        22.1%
  • 17-Oct-2011        18.2%
  • 21-Jun-2012       16.5%
  • 1-Nov-2011         16.1%
  • 6-Mar-2012          15.6%
  • 9-Aug-2011         -27.0%


  • Volatility indexes  www.cboe.com/volatility
  • CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) (with put-call ratios, CFE, charts, bibliography, etc.)  www.cboe.com/VIX
  • VIX Strategies        http://www.cboe.com/micro/volatility/strategies.aspx
  • Papers on Income Enhancement and Tail Risk Management  www.cboe.com/benchmarks
  • CBOE Risk Management Conference in Ireland – Sept. 5 – 7 2012 www.cboermc.com/Europe



“Drought” Options – Implied Vol Up 50% This Month

A recent Reuters news report indicated that “Grain prices pushed to record highs on Thursday as scattered rains in U.S. Midwest did little to douse fears that the worst drought in half a century will not end soon or relieve worries around the world about higher food prices.  Government forecasters did not rule out that the drought in the U.S. heartland could last past October, continuing what has been the hottest half-year on record.”

What can securities investors do about the 2012 drought?  Investment vehicles that investors could explore include options on agriculture-based exchange-traded products (ETPs) (CBOE is not endorsing or soliciting for the products below; please read the applicable prospectus.)


According to Bloomberg estimates, the implied volatility for the “110%-moneyness” options on the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund (DBA) rose from 16.6 at the end of June to 25.2 on July 19th (an increase of 52%). See the chart below for more info on recent implied volatility, and note the recent differences in implied volatility for DBA options based on their moneyness.  Ag Implied Vol



As shown in the chart below, over the past seven weeks (May 31st through July 19th) the iPath DJ-UBS Grains Subindex ETN (JJG) rose 45%, and the Teucrium Corn Fund ETF (CORN) rose 35%.

Ag ETF prices



Key Features of U.S-exchange-listed options include:

  • Clearance of transactions is guaranteed by the Options Clearing Corporation
  • Price and Quote Transparency
  • Daily Mark-to-market

Bullish options strategies include: (1) long call, (2) bull spread, (3) call backspread, and many others.

Bearish options strategies include: (1) long put, (2) bear spread, and put backspread, and many others. To learn more about  options strategies, please visit —

http://www.cboe.com/Strategies, and


More information on options on Commodity-based ETFs is at —


Broad commodity based indexes include the S&P GSCI Index and the S&P World Commodity Index (WCI).

VXEEM Y-T-D Futures Volume Tops 41,000

Some investors have asked us about managing exposure with products based on volatility indexes in addition to the well- known CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) www.cboe.com/VIX

Trading volume in CBOE Emerging Markets ETF Volatility Index (VXEEM) security futures totaled 8,870 contracts during June 2012, and is more than 41,000 year-to-date.  The VXEEM Index tracks the implied volatility of the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index exchange traded fund (EEM).  VXEEM futures trading was launched on January 9, 2012.   www.cboe.com/VXEEM

The CBOE Crude Oil ETF Volatility Index (OVX) measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility of crude oil prices by applying the VIX methodology to United States Oil Fund, LP exchange traded fund (USO) options.  OVX security futures were launched for trading on March 26, 2012.   www.cboe.com/OVX












TABB – Buy-side is Expanding Use of VIX-related Options

TABB Group recently issued a buy-side trading study, “US Options Trading 2012: Standing Out in the Crowd,” written by Mr. Andy Nybo. For this year’s 39-page study, TABB noted that it spoke with 54 US-based asset managers, hedge funds and proprietary trading firms, which as a group, manage an aggregate $2.7 trillion in assets under management and trade an average of 517,000 options contracts per day. 

Mr. Nybo said that buy-side firms are –

“ … expanding their product selection to include more VIX-related, ETF/index and listed FLEX options.”

Please visit this link – http://bit.ly/TABB-Opt – for summary of highlights from the report and more information on how to purchase the entire 39-page study.  Please note that CBOE is not soliciting for or endorsing the purchase of the full report written by a third-party.



 CBOE reports that the average daily volume for options on the CBOE Volatility Index®(VIX®) was 428,220 in the first half of 2012 (12% higher than the 381,412 average daily volume in the first half of 2011) www.cboe.com/VIX

VIX listed options began trading in 2006

VIX Futures Volume is Up 67% This Year

Average daily volume for futures on the CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) rose in the first half of this year to 79,586 (67% higher than the average daily volume in the year 2011).  www.cboe.com/VIX

79,586 Avg. Daily Volume in 1st Half of 2012



 Average daily volume for VIX options was 428,220 in the first half of 2012.

Avg. Daily Volume of 428,220 in 1st Half of 2012



Trading volume in CBOE Crude Oil ETF Volatility Index (OVX) security futures totaled 3,290 contracts in June 2012, an increase of 65 percent from the 1,994 contracts in May.  The CBOE Crude Oil ETF Volatility Index measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility of crude oil prices by applying the VIX methodology to United States Oil Fund, LP exchange traded fund (USO) options.  OVX security futures were launched for trading on March 26, 2012.   www.cboe.com/OVX

Trading volume in CBOE Emerging Markets ETF Volatility Index (VXEM) security futures totaled 8,870 contracts during June 2012.  VXEM tracks the implied volatility of the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index exchange traded fund (EEM).  VXEM trading was launched on January 9, 2012.   www.cboe.com/VXEEM

For more information on volatility indexes and risk management, please visit www.cboe.com/volatility

Performance of Selected Tradable Volatility Indices: June 2012

The S&P 500 Index rose 4% in June 2012, and VIX dropped 29% from 24.06 (5/31/2012) to 17.08 (6/29/2012).

The S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures Index and the S&P 500 VIX Mid Term Futures Index dropped 29.05% and 12.24%, respectively. The S&P 500 Dynamic VIX Futures Index, however, managed to stay nearly flat (-0.58%), due to its algorithm to dynamically reduce volatility exposure in a bull market. The S&P 500 VIX Futures Term Structure Index gained 3.01%.

The S&P 500 Dynamic VEQTOR Index saw a muted growth of 1.74% in June. Its volatility is low at 12.54%, compared to the 20.57% volatility in the 500.

Click the image to see it in full size.

Exhibit: Performance Summary (6/29/2012)








S&P Indices General Disclaimer

Is Volatility of Volatility Unusually High?

After reading news reports the past few weeks about the Eurozone crisis, one might get the impression that the volatility of volatility is unusually high. 

 A key measure of volatility of volatility is the CBOE VIX of VIX Index (ticker VVIX, www.cboe.com/VVIX ) which is designed to measure the expected future volatility of the CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) www.cboe.com/VIX

 Last Friday the month-end closing values were 89.59 for the VVIX Index and 17.08 for the VIX Index – both of these closing values are below the average values for each index over the past year (see the chart and below). 

 The VVIX Index can serve as a valuable gauge for investors who use the popular VIX options.


 On Thursday, June 28, the VIX options put/call ratio was 0.15 (with volume of 35,879 puts and 241,628 calls).  The June 28 put/call ratio was the lowest since January 13, 2012. A spreadsheet with daily volumes and put-call ratios is available at the VIX microsite at www.cboe.com/VIX


VVIX and VIX VOLATILITY INDEXES – ONE-YEAR CHART  (June 30, 2011 – June 29, 2012)

The average daily closing values over the past year were 99 for the VVIX Index and 24.7 for the VIX Index.  www.cboe.com/volatility .

Volatility of Vlatility

Measures of the implied volatility of VIX and SPX options







VIX Futures Record Volume Day, as VIX Options Put/Call Ratio Rises to 1.3

On June 18 the trading volume in futures on the CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) established a new single-day record today as 159,744 contracts traded, eclipsing the previous record of 152,067 contracts on August 5, 2011.

Also on June 18 the daily put/call ratio for VIX options rose to 1.3, its highest daily level since May 25th. The average daily put/call ratio for VIX options in 2012 so far is about 0.67.


Below are 5 charts relating to the past 6 trading days.

The VIX options daily put/call ratio rose from 0.25 on June 11 to 1.30 on June 18.

On June 18th the closing value of the VIX spot was 18.32, its lowest closing value since May 3, 2012. VIX futures were priced higher; see www.cboe.com/VIX for quotes on VIX futures prices.



The topics of VIX and volatility will be covered by several speakers at CBOE’s inaugural Risk Management Conference (RMC) in Europe. Now in its 28th year in the U.S., the first RMC Europe will be held on 5 – 7 September 2012 at The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, County Wicklow, Ireland. Topics include “Forecasting Volatility and Volatility as an Asset Class” and “Trading Implied Volatility,” and among the scheduled speakers will be —

  • Andrew Harmstone, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and
  • Pierre de Saab, Portfolio Manager, Doninice & Company Asset Management.

The conference agenda and registration information are at www.cboermc.com/Europe

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