Market Insight: Complacency Rules

Posted by Chris Hunter - Bonner & Partners

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It’s been a lousy year so far for US stocks. 

The S&P 500 is as flat as a pancake year to date. 

But if investors are worried, it’s not showing up in the so-called “fear index,” the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). 

The VIX tracks the options market’s expectation for volatility (aka price swings) in the S&P 500 over the next 30 days. 

In the dark days of 2008, the VIX spiked to above 80 points. As a rule of thumb, when the VIX is above 30, it tells you that investors see a lot of volatility ahead in stocks, as a result of fear or uncertainty. When the VIX is below 20, it tells you investors are less worried – and even complacent – about the future. 

As you can see below, right now complacency is the name of the game.


So far this year, the VIX has barely broken a sweat, never rising above 23. 

But just because most investors are complacent doesn’t mean you should be.

Ed Note: Here is the long term chart of the VXX (iiPath S&P 500 VIX ST Futures ETN – VXX)

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