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)