Monday, October 26, 2020

Performance of the VIX in the Two Weeks Before and After Presidential Elections

A convergence of concerns related to stimulus, elections, COVID-19 and earnings (courtesy of a big SAP earnings miss) caused the VIX to jump 17.8% today.  How much of that was related to the election?  Well…the 9-day VIX9D spiked 47.8% today, now that the election is within the 9-day measurement window for the first time.  The bottom line is that election uncertainty and anticipated volatility is currently a huge factor in the mindset of the investor.

This raises the question of how jumpy the VIX tends to be in advance of elections and what happens after the election.  If you know anything about what happens to the VIX around FOMC announcement days, you will find considerable similarities when it comes to elections.  Specifically, the VIX responds to the upcoming event risk by increasing steadily into the event, dropping sharply on the day of the event and declining even more as the event recedes in the rear-view mirror.

Of course, most think this election is different.  While that is certainly true, all elections are unique in their own way and yet the same general principles apply.

Note that in the graphic below I normalized all the VIX readings from 1992-2016, with the exception of 2008, which just happened to fall at the height of the Great Recession, so the 2008 data is excluded, as it would otherwise skew the results.


[source(s):  CBOE, Yahoo, VIX and More]

Further Reading:
The VIX and the Pre-FOMC + Post-FOMC Trades
VIX Trends Around FOMC Announcement Days
VIX Price Movement Around FOMC Meetings
Post-Election Risk Trending Up in Treasuries and the Euro, Down in U.S. Stocks
VIX Sets New Record with Nine Up Days in a Row
Top VIX Crushes in History
How to Trade Options Around Volatile Events (Barron’s)
A Conceptual Framework for Volatility Events
Volatility During Crises
Fear Poll: Fiscal Cliff Fears Spike, Concerns About Excessive Central Bank Intervention Rise
Fiscal Cliff Worries Grow As Election Nears
The Hollande Discount
Chart of the Week: Intrade and the Midterm Elections
Chart of the Week: Intrade and Control of the House of Representatives

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

Disclosure(s): none

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Updating the Current VIX-Based ETP Landscape

There is a lot going on in the markets, with several themes weighing on volatility or the potential for more volatility.  COVID-19 cases are spiking to new highs in Europe and the U.S. and could be at an inflection point in the U.S.  Election uncertainty is also unnerving investors with the election only nine days away.  Lasts and not least, markets are strongly influenced by the Pelosi-Mnuchin stimulus dance, which appears to have migrated from a tango to a polka – but at least the music is still playing.

In the time since I was a regular contributor in this space, a lot has happened in the volatility world and the VIX ETP space has also changed dramatically.  For this reason, it seems like a good time to update a favored VIX ETP graphic to reflect the many products that have closed, matured and been moved to the pink sheets.  In keeping with tradition (this graphic has been published many times in various incarnations since 2010), I have plotted all of the VIX ETPs with respect to their target maturity (X-axis) and leverage (Y-axis).

It has taken more a decade, but the bottom line is that the VIX ETP space has essentially been narrowed down to two dominant products:

VXX (iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN) – the pioneering +1 long volatility ETN that launched back on January 30, 2009 and has been the dominant product in the VIX ETP space throughout its lifetime

UVXY (ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF) – the +1.5x ETF that spent most of its life as a +2x product and moved to +1.5x following the February 2018 Volmageddon event which resulted in the termination of XIV

Both VXX and UVXY trade an average of over 30 million shares per day and both are regularly in the top 5-10 highest volume ETPs as well as ETP options volume leaders.  The remaining VIX ETPs have been largely relegated to niche product status.  Additionally, Credit Suisse delisted and suspended its VelocityShares ETNs, meaning that the former TVIX, VIIX and ZIV now trade in the OTC market under the symbols TVIXF, VIIXF and ZIVZF.  For this reason and because of low liquidity and the increased risk with trading on the OTC “pink sheets.” I have highlighted these tickers in red.

[source(s):  VIX and More]

Further Reading:
VIX ETPs Flash Some Green in 2016
Every Single VIX ETP (Long and Short) Lost Money in 2015
Performance of VIX ETPs During the Recent Debt Ceiling Crisis
Expanded Performance of Volatility-Hedged and Related ETPs
Performance of Volatility-Hedged ETPs
Performance of VIX ETP Hedges in Current Selloff
Slicing and Dicing all 31 Flavors of the VIX ETPs
Charting the Assets of the Volatility-Based ETPs

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

Disclosure(s): net short VXX and UVXY at time of writing

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Looking at Coronavirus Cases per Million, by Country

Further to yesterday’s Coronavirus (COVID-19), post, Tracking the Trajectory and Peak of Coronavirus Cases, I want to make sure we are thinking not just in terms of the absolute number of confirmed cases, but also cases per million. 

The graphic below highlights the countries which have been hit hardest on a per capita basis.  Using this criterion, Iceland is the country where the coronavirus is most prevalent, followed by Italy, South Korea, Iran, China and Switzerland.  These six countries stand out as having passed an inflection point.  Given the data out of Western Europe in the past 48 hours, it appears as if Spain, Sweden, France and Denmark are not far behind.  The U.S. currently ranks 41st in terms of cases per million, with just 1/100th of the penetration in Iceland.

[source(s):  Wikipedia, VIX and More]

Assuming the distribution of new cases continues to trace a parabolic path, being able to reasonably estimate the terminal penetration rate – which will no doubt vary by country – could help to set expectations about the progress and timeline of new cases.

Finally, to follow up on yesterday’s post, I am now dating the first day of 100 new cases in the U.S. at March 7th.  Using the 8-14 day window for 100 new cases to peak new cases means the U.S. could see peak new cases in the March 15th – March 22nd time frame, with an outside shot of the peak extending out to March 29th.  Of course, this projection are merely an extrapolation from the experience in other countries and will be largely dependent upon the rate at which testing is ramped up in the U.S.

Further Reading:

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


Monday, March 9, 2020

Tracking the Trajectory and Peak of Coronavirus Cases

I have seen a lot written about the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, but I have yet to see any informed discussion about the trajectory of cases in various regions, the cycle time to peak new cases or meaningful predictions about the future course of the spread of the virus.

So here are some thoughts on the subject, using historical data from Wikipedia that is more standardized in time and collection methodology than any other data I have been able to find on the Web.  First, I examined the entire history of case data by country and found inflection points that roughly correspond to 10 new cases and 100 new cases per day.  As identification of initial cases is somewhat problematic given the variable protocols for testing, availability of testing kits, timing of nearby positive cases, etc. I elected to use the 100 new cases per day threshold.

It turns out that there have been seven countries so far that have logged 100 new COVID-19 cases in a single day.  In order of reaching that 100 new cases threshold, they are:  China (January 21st), South Korea (February 21st), Italy (February 26th), Iran (February 27th), France (March 5th), Germany (March 6th) and Spain (March 6th).  The U.S. has come close to the 100 new case threshold and may indeed hit that mark today or tomorrow.

The graphic below shows the daily number of new cases in each of the seven 100+ new case countries.  Note that it is reasonable to expect some sort of parabolic pattern for new cases with a steep jump in new cases that eventually flattens out, peaks and declines in a similar fashion.  This pattern probably would have been the case in China, except that on February 10th, China changed the methodology for counting new “confirmed” cases from relying strictly on the basis of a positive result from a lab testing kit to cases that included patients where CT scans for pneumonia allowed for a “confirmed” case clinical diagnosis for likely COVID-19 cases without having to wait for a lab test and results.

[source(s):  Wikipedia, VIX and More]

To summarize the data in the graph, three of the four countries that are at least ten days from the initial 100-case day have seen what appears to be a peak in new cases.  In China, it was 22 days from 100 cases to peak new cases, though it is possible that peak new cases might have been 14 days if China had not expanded the methodology for defining new cases to include a clinical diagnosis.

In South Korea, a concerted effort to ramp up testing as quickly as possible is probably responsible for the fact that South Korea saw a peak in new cases just 9 days after the first 100-case day.

While the peak in new case data in Iran should be considered provisional, the current peak in new cases was only 8 days after the first 100-case day, perhaps aided by the steep trajectory in new cases during the first five days.

Italy is the outlier in that there are no signs of a peak some ten days after the first 100-case day, though it is reasonable to expect that the newly implemented national lockdown and public gathering measures will help to slow the rate of new cases going forward.

The remaining three Western European countries – France, Germany and Spain are only 3-4 days into their post-100 timeline, so it is too early to talk about a peak.

The first quick takeaway is that the time from 100 new cases to peak new cases seems to cluster around 8-14 days or perhaps 8-22 days if you overlook the changes in the methodology for counting new cases in China.

Second, with the U.S. new case count hovering just below 100, it is reasonable to expect that the 8-14 day window for new cases will also apply to the U.S. putting a likely peak count in the March 17th – March 24th time frame, with an outside shot of the peak extending out to April 1st.  This assumes, of course, that the U.S. follows a similar trajectory to the other countries.  Along those lines, it will be interesting to see if Italy’s new cases peak during the next week.

Obviously, there are a number of factors that can affect how successful a country can be in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, conduct an appropriate number of tests and other factors. Japan, for instance, had its first case almost two months ago and has yet to approach 100 new cases in a day.

More to come on the COVID-19 global outbreak, the VIX, volatility and more.

Further Reading:

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

Disclosure(s): none

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