Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is Volatility a Better Play for Silver than Direction?

It seems as if everyone in the world has an opinion about silver. Is it a bubble? Has it topped? Is it just consolidating before it goes to triple digits?

I have been trading silver directionally with a trend-following approach for many months, but recently exited all my long positions when I came to the decision that a top was imminent.

Still, silver looks way too attractive for me to sit on the sidelines, so now I am trading silver volatility instead of a directional play. The chart below from Livevol.com neatly illustrates my rationale.

Looking at the silver ETF, SLV, for the past six months, one cannot help but observe the ever-widening gap between implied volatility and historical volatility that has developed during the latter half of March. While it is certainly understandable that there is a great deal of uncertainty about the price of silver going forward, given the extreme recent volatility, I find it hard to believe that traders are betting silver will be about twice as volatile in the next month as it has been over the course of the last month.

For me this is a classic short volatility setup, with straddles, strangles, butterflies and condors looking to be pricing in an excessive amount of volatility. One need not necessarily structure those short volatility trades with the current price of SLV (about 44.18) at the midpoint of the spread. If one thinks silver has topped, why not sell a straddle at 43 or a strangle with a 40-45 spread? For now my focus is primarily a non-directional short volatility play, but one can also make a good case for a short volatility trade with a small directional twist, at least as I see it.

Of course, silver always presents some interesting pairs trading possibilities, typically with gold, but given the recent positive correlation between silver and stocks, an interesting approach is to look at short silver trades as a hedge for long equity positions.

Related posts:


[graphic: Livevol Pro]

Disclosure(s): neutral position in SLV via options at time of writing; Livevol is an advertiser on VIX and More

blog comments powered by Disqus
DISCLAIMER: "VIX®" is a trademark of Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated. Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated is not affiliated with this website or this website's owner's or operators. CBOE assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness or any other aspect of any content posted on this website by its operator or any third party. All content on this site is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as advice to buy or sell any securities. Stocks are difficult to trade; options are even harder. When it comes to VIX derivatives, don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because you can ride a horse, you can ride an alligator. Please do your own homework and accept full responsibility for any investment decisions you make. No content on this site can be used for commercial purposes without the prior written permission of the author. Copyright © 2007-2013 Bill Luby. All rights reserved.
 
Web Analytics