This Is What the Fear Index Is About

What is the VIX?

Ever heard of the VIX?

It’s not some secret code but a handy tool for understanding the stock market. The VIX, also known as the Cboe Volatility Index, is like a speedometer for the S&P 500 Index. It tells us how wild or calm the market is and helps investors make smart moves.

VIX history

The VIX was born in 1993, thanks to the Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe). It started as a way to measure fear in the market by looking at options on the S&P 100 Index.

But the VIX we know today, in action since 2003, is way more advanced. It checks a bunch of call and put options on the broader S&P 500 to give us a clearer picture.

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How to read the VIX

So, what does the VIX tell us? It’s like a mood ring for the market.

High VIX: When it’s up, it’s like a red alert for fear and uncertainty. People are worried about where the market’s headed in the short term. Think of it as the market’s way of saying, “Hold on to your hats, things are getting bumpy.”

Low VIX: When it’s down, it’s like a sunny day at the beach. Investors are feeling pretty chill and positive about stocks. The market’s saying, “Relax, no storm clouds on the horizon.”

No wonder people call it the “fear index” or “fear gauge.” It’s like having a weather forecast for the stock market.

How to trade the VIX

Now, can you go out and buy or sell the VIX like you do with company stocks? Nope, not really. The VIX isn’t a stock you can own. It’s more like a number you can watch on the news.

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But there are ways to play the VIX game. You can use VIX derivatives and exchange-traded products (ETPs) to get in on the action. They let you bet on whether the VIX will go up or down.

For instance, you can buy VIX options or invest in ETPs that follow the VIX’s movements. Just remember, these things have their quirks, so it’s best to know what you’re doing.

Some popular VIX-based ETPs include VXX, UVXY, and SVXY. But be cautious if you’re just getting started. These tools aren’t always straightforward, and they have their own set of risks.

Final Thoughts

The VIX is like a crystal ball for the stock market. It shows us how scared or relaxed investors are about the short-term future.

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You can’t buy the VIX like you would regular stocks, but you can bet on it using derivatives and ETPs. Just tread carefully, especially if you’re new to the game. It’s a wild ride out there!

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Hey — It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.