The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was invented to allow investors to speculate about volatility over the next 30 days. The VIX is commonly referred to as the fear index, and readings above 20 tend to occur in uncertain times filled with concern, while readings below 20 indicate a perceived relatively low-risk environment. As of late, the average intraday range of the S&P 500 has been quite high, with the last 30 trading days averaging a trading range of 2%, which is on the high side relative to history. In fact, the 30-day rolling average percentage spread between intraday highs and lows did not cross 2% throughout the entirety of 2021, but on the first day of February 2022, we broke a 440 trading day streak in which the reading was below 2% that had bene in place since the days coming out of the COVID crash.
As depicted below, the VIX tends to spike during times in which market volatility increases. However, the current elevated level of intraday volatility has not been matched with a proportional rise in the VIX. Based on historical data, the VIX should currently be closer to 26.5, but the current reading of 21.8 is 17.6% below the implied value we would derive from the last 30 days of intraday volatility alone. This suggests that although the market has been shaky as of late, investors expect an easing of that volatility in the near future. Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options.