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VIX (CBOE Volatility Index)


The VIX, or CBOE Volatility Index, is a real-time market index that represents the market’s expectation of 30-day forward-looking volatility. Derived from the price inputs of S&P 500 index options, it provides a measure of market risk and investor sentiment. Essentially, a high VIX value indicates a higher level of fear or volatility in the market, while a low VIX values suggests a calm, low-risk environment in the market.


The phonetics of the keyword “VIX (CBOE Volatility Index)” would be “vee-iks (see-boe volatility index)”.

Key Takeaways

  1. The VIX, or the CBOE Volatility Index, is a real-time market index that represents the market’s expectations for volatility over the coming 30 days. It is often referred to as the “fear gauge” or “fear index” as it is able to quantify market risk and investors’ sentiments.
  2. It is calculated by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) using prices of a weighted series of S&P 500 Index options, both puts and calls, with a wide range of strike prices. A high VIX value indicates higher volatility and greater uncertainty in the market, while a low VIX value suggests a stable, less risk-averse market.
  3. The VIX can serve as a useful tool for various investing and trading strategies. For example, investors may use the index as a hedge against market volatility. It’s important to note, however, that while the VIX can provide valuable insights, it should not be used in isolation and is best used in conjunction with other indicators and market analyses.


The VIX, or CBOE Volatility Index, is a crucial measure in finance and business as it provides real-time market predictions concerning future volatility. It is often referred to as the “fear gauge” because it illustrates the market’s expectation of 30-day forward-looking volatility. Essentially, it calculates and reflects the market’s anxiety level. When the VIX level is high, uncertainty is high, and market risk increases. This can indicate a higher possibility of large market moves, either down or up. Conversely, when the VIX level is low, it reflects a market condition with lower risk and stability. Therefore, it’s a critical risk management tool providing insight into market sentiment and potentially highlighting looming market turbulence, making it a vital component for investors, portfolio managers, and traders.


The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, serves a crucial role in the realm of finance as a real-time market index representing the market’s expectations for volatility over the coming 30-day period. Often referred to as the “fear gauge” or “fear index” , the VIX is used by investors and traders to gauge the market’s anxiety level. High VIX values indicate higher market volatility and general uncertainty, while lower VIX values suggest a more stable and confident market environment. By translating the implied volatility of S&P 500 index options into easy-to-understand predictions, the VIX provides a snapshot of expectations about future stock market volatility and market risk.Additionally, the VIX also allows for the placement of speculative bets or hedges against future market volatility. Various financial products such as futures contracts, options, and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) have been developed around the VIX, enabling investors to trade volatility for hedging, diversification, or speculative purposes. An investor who believes that market volatility is about to increase could buy VIX futures, options, or ETNs to profit from the subsequent rise in the VIX. On the other hand, if an investor thinks market volatility will diminish, they can take the opposite stance. In either case, the VIX is an important tool not just for understanding market sentiment, but also for enabling actions based on those insights.


1. 2008 Financial Crisis: During the global financial crisis in 2008, the VIX experienced unprecedented highs as the market experienced increased volatility. On November 20, 2008, the VIX reached 80.86, which is one of its highest peaks since its inception, indicating an extremely high level of fear in the market. This was due to the collapse of major financial institutions, causing high volatility and uncertainty in the stock market.2. COVID-19 Pandemic: Another significant jump in the VIX was seen during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Within a short period, the VIX spiked to over 80 indicating an extreme level of fear and uncertainty in the market. The rapid spread of the pandemic resulted in sudden lockdowns and challenges for businesses, causing high volatility in the equity markets.3. Brexit Referendum: The British vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, also known as ‘Brexit’ , was a major geopolitical event that heightened market volatility. The VIX saw a significant increase in the days leading up to and following the referendum, reflecting the uncertainty and stress in the market related to the vote’s outcome and its impacts on the global economy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the VIX (CBOE Volatility Index)?

The VIX, or the CBOE Volatility Index, is a real-time market index that represents the market’s expectations of 30-day forward-looking volatility. It is derived from the price inputs of the S&P 500 index options.

Who uses the VIX?

The VIX is used by traders and investors alike as a measure of market risk, fear, and uncertainty. It can be a useful tool for various financial professions including risk managers, portfolio managers, proprietary traders, and hedge fund managers.

How is the VIX calculated?

The VIX is calculated by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) using prices of options on the S&P 500 Index. It measures the expected annualized change (up or down) in the S&P 500 Index over the next 30 days.

How do I interpret the VIX?

Higher VIX values indicate a higher level of fear or uncertainty in the market. Conversely, lower VIX values suggest complacency or contentment among investors. A VIX value of 30, for example, would represent an expected annualized change in the S&P 500 Index of up to 30% over the next 30 days.

Can I invest in the VIX?

While you can’t directly invest in the VIX, there are several Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) that aim to track its performance. These include VIX futures and options, along with exchange-traded notes like the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX).

What is the significance of the VIX in a financial crisis?

The VIX tends to spike during periods of financial distress. For instance, during the global financial crisis of 2008, the VIX reached a record high, reflecting the extreme levels of fear and uncertainty in the market.

How accurate is the VIX as a predictor of market volatility?

While the VIX is not perfect, it has proven to be a reliable indicator of market sentiment and expected near-term volatility. However, it’s important to note that it’s a measure of predicted, not actual volatility. Historically, the VIX has mirrored real-world events and market upheavals quite closely.

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