If you’re frustrated by the market’s volatility lately, there are exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded notes (ETNs) out there that you can use to play it.

In the first two months of 2011, around $334 million found its way into 14 ETFs that track the CBOE Market Volatility Index, reports John Spence for MarketWatch. The Index, also known as the “VIX” or the “fear gauge,” measures implied market volatility through options contracts that cover the S&P 500.

  • The VIX is quick moving, usually spiking when stocks sell off. For instance, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped around 180 points on Feb. 22, the VIX spiked almost 30%. [VIX ETFs: A Play On Recent Market Volatility.]
  • The VIX has been on a steady downtrend since May 2010, but geopolitical instability overseas and the risings prices of key commodities have caused a burst of activity in the VIX, writes Price Headley for InvestorPlace.
  • In analyzing the trend lines of the VIX, Headley opines that volatility and spikes in the market are likely to persist in the short- and even medium-term. Currently, the VIX is trading above 18 – the point where fear/panic levels are rising. [ETFs Options for Volatile Times.]

The number of VIX products has exploded in recent years. The two ETF options track mid- and short-term VIX futures: ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures (NYSEArca: VIXY) and ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures (NYSEArca: VIXM).

Before the ETFs hit the scene, however, there were a number of ETNs through which investors could get their exposure, including iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX), iPath S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXZ), VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca: XIV), VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Medium-Term ETN (NYSEArca: ZIV) and UBS E-TRACS Daily Long-Short VIX ETN (XVIX).

VIX fund products try to reflect futures products, not spot prices. The inverse products rise when VIX futures decline.

For more information on the VIX, visit our VIX category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.