VIX ETFs

VIX ETFs

There are ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) linked to the value of VIX with different direction risk and leverage. Since the VIX is a very volatile index, some of the ETFs can be extremely volatile. The VXX is a large ETF providing long exposure to the VIX. The XIV is a large ETF that moves inversely to the VIX. In most market scenarios (especially where the term structure of anticipated volatility is upward sloping) the VXX will tend to lose money and the XIV will tend to make money. This is reasonable to expect since the long exposure of the VXX to the VIX serves as an insurance policy against market volatility. When a major piece of bad news or a liquidity event causes the stock market to plummet the VIX will usually soar. This causes the VIX to have a negative beta meaning that it hedges the risk of changes in the level of stock prices. Capital market theory teaches that an investment that hedges equity market risk must offer a low expected rate of return – or even a negative expected return – in order to trade in equilibrium with positive beta investments that offer positive risk premiums.

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