Stock market volatility in 2013 has continued its downward trend toward levels experienced just before the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.
The CBOE S&P500 Volatility Index (VIX) spent much of January between 12 and 14, near its 52-week low.
A depressed VIX can be interpreted as too much complacency or lack of fear in the market. It’s frequently used as contrarian sell signal. Conversely, an elevated VIX infers a high level of fear and could be a good buy setup, depending on the circumstances.
Exchange-traded products that go long the VIX, like the ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY), continue to make new lows. The iPath S&P VIX ST Futures ETN (VXX) is down 98.5% since its inception in 2009. The selling pressure in long VIX ETPs will continue until stock market volatility pops.
Last year was one of the calmest years in terms of stock market gyrations.