VIX, Volatility ETFs Reveal Growing Complacency in Markets

As U.S. equities push toward new record highs, CBOE Volatility Index-related exchange traded products are revealing an increasingly complacent market.

Over the past three months, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) fell 35.8%, ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXY) decreased 35.8%, VelocityShares Daily Long VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca: VIIX) dropped 35.7% and REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (BATS: VMAX) decreased 43.4%.

The CBOE Volatility Index, or so-called VIX, is now hovering around 10.6, its lowest since July 2014.

With equity markets pushing to new highs, some investors are betting on a sharp reversal.

Investors “are pricing in more volatility than normal on the downside” for stocks than the upside, Joe Tigay, a managing director at Equity Armor Investments, told the Wall Street Journal.

For example, traders recently threw $204 million of fresh money, the most since October, into the largest VIX-related product, VXX, according to FactSet data.

Meanwhile, the ratio of puts, or bearish options, to bullish calls on the CBOE Volatility Index is at its lowest in the past year, indicating that investors are wary of quick swings after the rally in U.S. markets following President Donald Trump’s affect on riskier assets.