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Another week, another rally, and another yawn from the CBOE Market Volatility Index (INDEXCBOE:VIX).
Chart courtesy of TD Ameritrade
Now, there's no law that says VIX has to move anywhere. Way back before anyone paid attention to VIX -- like in the 90s -- volatility didn't fluctuate all that much on a day-to-day basis. No one looked for a signal in every little VIX tweak, probably because there really wasn't one. So yes, it's a little odd VIX hasn't made new lows in two months now, but I'm not sure it's the biggest deal in the world.
Besides, it's likely to start getting ugly soon.
Coming soon to a theater near you: Memorial Day. Traders tend to lower their bids in actual options ahead of long weekends, so as to minimize the time decay they pay. Those lower bids in S&P 500 Index (SPX) options translate to lower implied volatilities across the SPX options board. Since VIX is simply a calculation based on that implied volatility, it slides lower into the long weekend.
That's just a blip, though. By next Tuesday, the calendar catches up to the options pricing and VIX "gaps" higher.
Action always trumps time decay. So, if the markets start actually moving, this weekend drop and pop won't happen. But there's no real indication we're about to get a volatility pop, so expect to VIX under the appearance of pressure as the week goes on.
That's all done by this time next week, but then VIX has the bigger issue of summer itself. As I noted in my award-winning coffee table book, the July expiration cycle sees the lowest mean and median VIX of the year, and June sees the second lowest. And, in fact, the worst part of July is the first two or three weeks of the cycle.
Now, I ran that data in 2008, back in an era before weekly options and excessive VIX trading and machines making every decision for us. But not much has changed as far as the calendar is concerned. Early summer tends towards the dull side. So, expect some VIX underperformance in both the very near future and the intermediate term as well.
There is one bright side, though. I did find that July was a decent time to buy options when you compare typical implied volatility to the volatility SPX ultimately realized. The issue is you have to wait for options prices to take their anticipated dip, and we're still over a month away from seeing that play out.
Disclaimer: The views represented on this blog are those of the individual author only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.