The Best Volatility Play

By: John Rubino | Mon, Apr 19, 2010
Print Email

Take a look at the chart below, and note the unnaturally smooth 80% decline. Kind of makes you think "imminent bankruptcy". But now consider that the security in question is 100% guaranteed not to fall to zero and about 90% guaranteed to stay above 10.

VIX

It's VXX, an exchange traded fund that, according to its profile, "seeks to replicate, net of expenses, the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Total Return Index. The index offers exposure to a daily rolling long position in the first and second month VIX futures contracts and reflects the implied volatility of the S&P 500 index at various points along the volatility forward curve."

In other words, it reflects the perceived riskiness of stocks as measured by the VIX volatility index. Lately, the volatility/riskiness of the S&P 500 has been evaporating as the Fed hands virtually free cash to pretty much everyone who asks, and the recipients buy suspiciously regular amounts of stock each day. This is leading options and futures traders to get bored and charge lower derivatives premiums.

The result is an ETF with a nice risk/reward profile. The chart below shows that twice over the past couple of decades the VIX has approached 10 before bouncing off. Below 10 is theoretically possible but would imply some kind of uneventful paradise, not very likely in this world. So let's call 10 our downside risk. For upside potential, considering all the bad monetary/geopolitical/Goldman Sachs-related things that could happen and that it will only take one of them to spike volatility, a return to 50 or so isn't asking too much.

Volatility S&P500 Index

 

Full disclosure: I'm long VXX and getting longer.

 


 

John Rubino

Author: John Rubino

John Rubino
DollarCollapse.com

John Rubino is author of Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green Tech Boom (Wiley, December 2008), co-author, with GoldMoney's James Turk, of The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It (Doubleday, January 2008), and author of How to Profit from the Coming Real Estate Bust (Rodale, 2003). After earning a Finance MBA from New York University, he spent the 1980s on Wall Street, as a currency trader, equity analyst and junk bond analyst. During the 1990s he was a featured columnist with TheStreet.com and a frequent contributor to Individual Investor, Online Investor, and Consumers Digest, among many other publications. He now writes for CFA Magazine and edits DollarCollapse.com and GreenStockInvesting.com.

Copyright © 2006-2014 John Rubino

All Images, XHTML Renderings, and Source Code Copyright © Safehaven.com

SEARCH





TRUE MONEY SUPPLY

Source: The Contrarian Take http://blogs.forbes.com/michaelpollaro/
austrian-money-supply/