Explosive Rise in Stock Market Volatility! Why It May Be Ahead
There are now S&P options that expire each day of the week. What that may mean.
Here’s a Wall Street Journal headline from a couple of months ago that some people may have scanned without much contemplation (Jan. 11):
VIX, Wall Street’s Fear Gauge, Extends Longest Lull Since 2021
While some investors may not consider a subdued VIX highly significant, Elliott Wave International does. As we’ve repeatedly stated: prolonged periods of low volatility in the stock market are inevitably followed by jumps in volatility — and often, those jumps can be quite high.
With the “lull” in the VIX so extended, the next surge higher in volatility may be exceptionally high and last for an exceptionally long period of time.
Yet, there’s at least one more strong reason to expect a super surge in the fear gauge.
This chart and commentary are from the March Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, a publication which provides analysis of major U.S. financial markets:
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is purportedly a measure of expected future volatility in 30-day S&P 500 index options, but in fact it’s a real-time reading of complacency vs. fear. The index has been subdued, declining to 17.06 on February 2 in conjunction with [an Elliott wave] rally. This was the lowest VIX since January 5, 2022, the very day of the Dow’s all-time high. So, investors are as complacent now with respect to a stock market decline as they were when the blue chip indexes hit top tick in the great bull market.
Digging deeper, we find a segment of investors who are using the market to make casino-style bets. According to Bloomberg, more than 40% of the S&P 500’s total options volume occurs in what is known as “zero-day-to-expiry” options, or 0DTE, as shown by this graph. These are options that expire within 24 hours, making them highly sensitive to changes in price because of the lack of time premium. In 2022, the CBOE and CME expanded existing options so that there are now S&P options that expire each day of the week, allowing investors to speculate using these ultra-short-term instruments. Options dealers have to hedge against the risks of outsized moves in 0DTE options, which increases the potential for an explosive rise in volatility.
If another major leg down occurs in the stock market, wrong-way bets in highly leveraged 0DTE options will spike volatility.
The question is: What are the chances that the price downtrend which began in January 2022 will intensify?
While Elliott wave analysis offers no guarantees (no market analytical does), the stock market’s current Elliott wave structure is highly revealing.
If you’d like to learn how you can analyze financial markets using the Wave Principle, read Frost & Prechter’s Wall Street classic, Elliott Wave Principle: Key to Market Behavior. Here’s a quote from the book:
In markets, progress ultimately takes the form of five waves of a specific structure. Three of these waves, which are labeled 1, 3 and 5, actually effect the directional movement. They are separated by two countertrend interruptions, which are labeled 2 and 4. The two interruptions are apparently a requisite for overall directional movement to occur.
[R.N.] Elliott noted three consistent aspects of the five-wave form. They are: Wave 2 never moves beyond the start of wave 1; wave 3 is never the shortest wave; wave 4 never enters the price territory of wave 1.
… Elliott did not specifically say that there is only one overriding form, the “five-wave” pattern, but that is undeniably the case. At any time, the market may be identified as being somewhere in the basic five-wave pattern at the largest degree of trend. Because the five-wave pattern is the overriding form of market progress, all other patterns are subsumed by it.
If you’d like to delve deeper into the Wave Principle, here’s good news: You may read the entire online version of the book free once you become a member of Club EWI, the world’s largest Elliott wave educational community (approximately 500,000 worldwide members).
A Club EWI membership is also free and opens the door to complimentary access to Elliott wave resources on financial markets, investing and trading. Some of these resources (videos and articles) are from Elliott Wave International’s own analysts.
Join Club EWI (free membership) by following this link: Elliott Wave Principle: Key to Market Behavior.