Playing the VIX

Got stopped out of the VIX calls near 23, so I suppose I have moved on. While it was a nice trade, all it did was compensate for the losses from the occasional puts I was buying over the last month. More importantly, calls on the VIX are not exactly like calls on stocks for several reasons.

 First, the VIX is not likely to go to the moon (absent financial crisis when it hit 80) and a 30% spike from my 17 strike was good enough for me, why hang around much longer.  Second the value of the VIX depends largely on its volatility like all other options. Ponder what the volatility of the volatility means. Within any time frame, the level of the VIX can move around a lot or stay flat. If it moves a lot, then the VIX itself is volatile otherwise not.  Third, my calls went from being out of the money to being in the money (Vix delta went from low levels to 1). When I purchased those calls last week, my premium of around $3 was entirely time value. When I was stopped out (at 5.90), there was not much time value in them despite April expiration.

Fourth, after today, indexes are near short-term technical support levels, there is a good chance of a reversal tomorrow which will depress the VIX anyway. The SPY nearing 130 brought in buyers and the VIX dropping towards the close may be a sign that the selling is subsiding at least temporarily. Fifth, I saw after hours that the equity put-call ratio jumped to over 80% today, which are levels from which equity rallies may start. Sixth, this is not a trade I do all that often, it served its purpose and goes back into my bag of tricks for another time.  The one similar trade that I tend gravitate towards is a long bond trade via TLT calls (the notion being that when and if money goes out of stocks it goes to the bond market), but the relentless downtrend in TLT since late Fall put that one out of consideration.   There are probably other reasons, but these should be enough for now.

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