Fall Volatility Ahead? The Futures, Options, And ETPs Are Already Expensive

Scott Murray profile picture
Scott Murray

As usual, the "sell in May" punditry is back. But this time of year, they spout that September is historically terrible for the markets, nothing is solved in the Eurozone, the U.S. economy is teetering on recession, and you should be trimming back long positions. (insert yawn here)

The truth is that all of these statements are not only very debatable, some of them are patently untrue. Sadly, Americans take headlines and CNBC at face value, and hate to do any homework. I would say they are ignorant, but Americans have such great qualities in learning new disciplines and engendering pure inventiveness (this link is a classic example of American ingenuity in the simplest form making someone a millionaire), that I strive to explain this particular facet of financial illiteracy. I suppose it's just too damn boring for most people to care while they're inventing the new social IPO.

If you believe the nitwits on CNBC, and were considering buying calls on the VXX (please folks, the VXX itself is just something to play against, never to own), a word of caution is warranted. The VXX now holds virtually all September futures, and they are currently running at $19.30 while the spot VIX is $15.96. This is before a daily roll into the October contracts at $21.60. That is a 12% monthly hit divided by 20 days, for a daily .6% headwind. If you thought the VXX was a short term vehicle, the calls should be treated like a newborn needing a bottle every two hours.

Ok, so lets look at owning the stuff that they cram into these garbage ETFs. They have not packaged the VIX options into an ETP yet, but that would probably be better than owning the futures contracts, as these things are just flat out rip-offs:

This article was written by

Scott Murray profile picture
Co-Founder of VolatilityAnalytics.com, a proprietary volatility strategies firm. Using creative historical volatility analysis, we are able to provide actionable strategies for hedging, trading volatility, and finding value in today's turbulent markets. Our proprietary strategies utilize derivatives based exchange-traded products, VIX related derivatives, and options analysis. We have analytics for both retail and institutional investors. Follow me on Twitter and Stocktwits @VolatilityWiz and contact me at scott.murray1@gmail.com

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