Feb 3, 2014
Volatility View 97: Consulting Volatility
Volatility Review: So much for single digit VIX cash in Q1. VIX options call/put nearly 3 to 1 right now, hovering at record size. People still loving VIX upside - size open interest all the easy up to the Feb 60 strike. Current RVX open interest at 2700 contracts, traded 250 lot yesterday, the zealots are out in RVX.
Comment from Jason Ungar - Hi, Mark: I hope you are well. I just heard your (latest, I think) podcast which included a question about the PUTs consistent outperformance of the BXM. I know you wanted to look into this, and I think I may be able to help. While it is tempting to ascribe the differential to the PUTs puts carrying a higher IV than the BXMs calls, there is almost invariably only a 5 point spread between the two option's strikes, and this is too narrow to capture any significant amount of skew. The actual reason for the difference is a bit more complicated and has to do with the indexes' settlement methodologies. As I am sure you know, index options settle against the Special Opening Quotation, which was instituted by the CME as a way to price expiring S&P 500 futures. The SOQ captures the opening price of all 500 components of the S&P 500, and the anomaly is that on expiration Fridays the SOQ often comes in at a premium to the cash open. The precise reason for this is unknown, but it may have to do with the action of market makers buying back the futures they used to hedge short put positions. The CME and CBOE are aware of this (see the included "Understanding the SOQ" pamphlet and note the consistent positive spread between the SOQ and the cash open and the reference to the SOQ "occasionally departing from index values".) The reason the high SOQ is relevant is that it causes the BXM to purchase expiring ITM calls at a premium and the PUT to purchase expiring ITM puts at a discount. This is compounded by the tendency of the market to open strong on expiration and then to tail off. This is good for the PUT, which is out of the market for the first two hours of trading, and bad for the BXM, which is long the market until new calls are sold beginning at 11:30 eastern. You can do an easy test to confirm this. Just line up the daily returns for both indexes (available for download at cboe.com), and note that the greatest differentials (usually in the PUT's favor) almost always occur on expiration Fridays. I have included a JAI paper on the PUT I coauthored with Matt Moran as well as a follow up article. I would be happy to discuss any of this. All the best, Jason Ungar
Question from Hannibal Smith - What is the Volatility Views panels take on the recent announced VolDex product from ISE and Nations Shares? Is it a credible competitor to VIX?
Crystal Ball: Heading for more of the same trouble in VIX land?