If Blogger’s math is to be believed, this is my millennial post. I had originally intended to roll this post out with limited fanfare, but a strange confluence of events has caused me to reconsider. First, over the weekend, the blog received substantial accolades from Barron’s options columnist Steven Sears in For the Markets, How Tweet It Is. Today, the Wall Street Journal’s MarketBeat columnist Matt Phillips referred to the “VIX-obsessed blog VIX and More” in his Ugly Start of Week for Stocks as Oil Drops, VIX Jumps.
So today I have decided to (briefly) discuss a little bit of the origins and evolution of the blog and to help point the many new readers to some of the highlights from the first 1000 posts.
A Non-Volatile Birth
The story begins in December 2006, with the VIX hovering around 10.00. At the time, I was looking for an online location to serve as a searchable repository for some of my research on the VIX. After sampling some online message boards and determining these were too unwieldy, I decided to try blogging. In the first week of January, I determined Blogger was the easiest way to take the plunge. The VIX handle had already been claimed by another blogger and I figured I didn’t want to box myself into such a narrow subject area anyway, so I settled on the “and More” escape hatch and plunged in with VIX and More: An Introduction. With the VIX barely out of single digits and left for dead by most, I did not expect to see much in the way of traffic, but after a couple of weeks, a few hearty souls started dropping in. To highlight the absurdity of devoting a blog entirely to the VIX, I added the tagline, “Your one-stop VIX-centric view of the universe…” and hoped that the ellipses would be a signal to readers that everything was tongue in cheek.
For some additional context and to underscore the absurdity of the venture, at the time I was trading almost 100% stocks – very few options – and did not include the VIX in my stable of indicators. I did, however, have a strong belief that most of what we learn comes from getting out of our comfort zones, so I embraced this electronic journey as a potential learning opportunity.
Toward the end of February, when some asked what I wanted for my birthday, I joked, “A 20% spike in the VIX, of course.” Well I got a record 64% spike for my birthday and quite a few curious souls who showed up wondering what it all meant. The joke, it turns out, was on me.
By the time Bear Stearns collapsed and the sub-prime meltdown had transformed into a full-blown financial crisis, I discovered that I was probably the only person who had been thinking about and writing about the VIX and volatility almost every day for two years. What started out as a lark has become a serious venture, quoted in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Barron’s, Globe and Mail, etc.
Blog Highlights to Date…
My hope has always been that this blog can be both serious and fun. It seems like only yesterday that a reader asked for wine pairings with my VIX Weekly Sentiment Indicator and I was glad to oblige. Recently, I decided to tag a select group of posts with the “lighter side” label to demonstrate that the fear indicator can indeed coexist with an occasional attempt at humor.
For some of the most widely read posts, readers can check out the most read posts of 2007 as well as their 2008 counterparts. I will also have the first installment of the top posts of 2009 ready after the first half of the year and I have begun to flag a handful of posts for which I have received the most positive feedback with a hall of fame label.
Finally, those who are relatively new to the VIX and volatility are encouraged to check out posts I have tagged with the educational label or skip directly to the one post everyone should read, Ten Things Everyone Should Know About the VIX.
I am particularly pleased by a number of ideas that were born on this blog. These include the VIX:VXV ratio, VIX macro cycles, the Global Volatility Index, fearograms, an options opportunity matrix, “event volatility” vs. “structural volatility”, a conceptual framework for volatility events, the ratio of the VIX to the yield on 3-month T-bills, and even some semi-serious ideas, such as the LEHVIX and the OHFdex (Overripe High Fliers Index).
More Education Than Market Calls
The intent of this blog has always been to stimulate new ideas and make better fishermen out of all of us, as I strongly believe that ultimately we are all self-coached. Occasionally, however, I have not been able to resist making some market calls – and I have had the good fortune to nail several of them. When I make calls, I usually do so to be provocative and because my thinking is clearly contrarian. When to Short China? is one of my most popular posts of all-time, as is Prediction: Direxion Triple ETFs Will Revolutionize Day Trading. In retrospect, these look like no brainers, but at the time, they cut sharply against the grain.
More often than not, I call things early, but close enough. A recent example was calling a bottom on March 5th – one day early and 21 points too high.
I am not sure what the future will bring in this space. Some 2 ½ years after diving in I now believe that my analysis of volatility and market sentiment provide me with the bulk of my edge and I find that most of my trades involve options on ETFs, yet I still intend to keep my trading and the blog largely separate. I have a passion for education, market sentiment and options and I think there is a lot of work to be done in terms of elevating the discussion in these areas.
I have also enjoyed seeing the chart of the week become a regular feature and clearly take pleasure in putting together some strange and unusual charts. I expect there will be more wacky charts in the future as well as more synthesis of charts, market sentiment and fundamentals.
The blog has already spawned a subscriber newsletter and a nearly complete manuscript for a book (Trading with the VIX, to be published by Wiley & Sons). I certainly would not have predicted either of these developments and I am keeping an open mind about the future.
Thanks to all who have helped to make this blog possible and have shared their ideas along the way. In the end, it is my firm belief that investing does not have to be a zero-sum game, particularly if the scorecard acknowledges some non-financial benefits.