Bets on a decline in the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX -1%) have fallen to 25% of shares outstanding from a record 126% in February, according to Bloomberg. Shorting the VXX is a play on continued calm in the markets, and a bet (along with other short volatility moves) that earned plenty of coin in 2013.
The VIX jumped 4.4% yesterday as stocks struggled, but has closed below 15 for 24 consecutive sessions, the longest streak since about the time surrounding the start of 2014. It hasn't climbed above 18 since February even amid Russian tension and sizable selloffs in small caps and tech momentum names.
“The longer you go without a hurricane, the more likely it becomes for the next period,” says Mark Yusko, CIO at Morgan Creek Capital. “It’s usually around those times, when everybody is convinced nothing can happen, that something happens. Markets tend to move to extremes. Those alligator jaws don’t stay open forever. They eventually snap shut.”