Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Euro Zone VSTOXX ETNs Land on U.S. Beaches!

Think the market is too complacent about this weekend’s election in France?  Worried that the euro area is going to crumble under the weight of Italy’s struggles?  Convinced that Greece, Portugal or Spain are just one more kicked can away from a disaster?

As of tomorrow, investors in the U.S. will have another way to translate these ideas into actionable trades with tomorrow’s launch of two new exchange-traded notes (ETNs) – EVIX (long euro zone volatility) and EXIV (inverse euro zone volatility) – from VelocityShares and UBS that put a European face on existing U.S. VIX-based products such as VIIX and perennial favorite XIV.

Based on the VSTOXX, the VIX-like volatility index for the EURO STOXX 50 Index of 50 blue-chip stocks from 11 euro zone countries, EVIX and EXIV should be familiar to those who are knowledgeable about VXX and VIIX on the long volatility side as well as XIV and SVXY on the short volatility side.  EVIX and EXIV are based on VSTOXX futures and have a target maturity of 30 days – a maturity that is maintained by rolling a portion of the portfolio each day and therefore subjecting both products to the vagaries of contango and backwardation.  In the event these are terms you are not familiar with, I strongly recommend that you click on the links above and educate yourself.  Believe it or not, this is the ninth year I have been talking about the VIX futures term structure, negative roll yield, contango and backwardation.  (Those who have been paying attention since the early days of VXX and VXZ have no doubt profited mightily from this knowledge.)

The beauty of EVIX and EXIV is that these products create so much flexibility for investors who maintain a global, cross-asset class view of volatility.  In the run-up to the first round of the French election, for example, VSTOXX spiked dramatically and pushed the VSTOXX:VIX ratio below 1.00, creating some interesting arbitrage opportunities and/or pairs trades in the process.  Now investors can trade euro zone volatility against U.S. volatility, use targeted hedges for risk that is specific to the euro zone or speculate more easily about the direction of volatility in the euro zone.

I encourage everyone to study the EVIX and EXIV prospectus closely.

This is a huge development in the volatility space and if options on EVIX and EXIV follow later this week, as expected, the volatility trading landscape will be much richer and more diverse. 

Now if we can only get liquid volatility products for gold volatility (GVZ) and crude oil volatility (OVX), I won’t even have to set out a stocking next to the chimney this Christmas.

While I’m at it, why are there no options on XIV?  This is such a popular high-beta product that it deserves options so traders can express a broader range of opinions on volatility.  Readers, it never hurts to nudge the CBOE on these issues.  An outpouring of popular sentiment can make a difference.

As the risk of charging off into full rant mode, I feel compelled to say that I hope volatility investors know a good thing when they see it.  It is a shame that VXST futures did not attract enough attention to hang around and that VMAX and VMIN are not trading with higher volumes.  One of the best volatility products ever created, ZIV, nearly died of neglect before investors finally paid it some attention.

As I see it, EVIX and EXIV as well as VMAX and VMIN are test cases for the future of the breadth of volatility products.  If you would like a diverse tapestry of volatility products in the future, it would not hurt to “buy local” volatility ETPs rather than sticking to the handful of already successful products.  If you don’t vote with your feet, you had better be happy playing in a small and rather limited sandbox.  I am fond of saying, “In volatility, there is opportunity!” – but that opportunity is a function of the richness of the various volatility product platforms.

Last but not least, I know Eurozone and eurozone are the preferred spellings, but I am sticking to the two-word “euro zone” with as much stubbornness as I can muster.  What can I say, I am short convention…

Further Reading:

For those who may be interested, you can always follow me on Twitter at @VIXandMore

Disclosure(s): net short VXX and VMAX; net long XIV and ZIV at time of writing.  The CBOE is an advertiser on VIX and More.

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 © 2007-2017 Bill Luby. All rights reserved.
 
Web Analytics