U.S. equities have been oscillating, but CBOE Volatility Index and VIX-related exchange traded funds investors have been growing increasingly complacent.
So far this year, the S&P 500 chart reveals a market with plenty of tops, bottoms and in-betweens, and at times, a 6.3% difference between the index’s intraday highs and lows, reports Jeff Fox for CNBC.
However, investors are not hedging against the volatility. Specifically, the widely observed CBOE Volatility Index, or so-called fear gauge, has declined 31% year-to-date and now hovers around 12.7.
During normal conditions, a falling VIX would reflect increased confidence and strengthening in the equities market, and vice versa. However, despite the swings, the relatively flat market this year has pressured the VIX.
“Something is wrong here,” Nick Colas, chief market strategist at Convergex, wrote in a note. “Now, apparently, we have a ‘volatility trap’: a situation where options players are deeply reluctant to pay too much for volatility protection, despite historically cheap pricing for downside hedging in listed options.”