Consistent with last month’s model commentary, I believe VIX futures’ high contango and roll costs are creating attractive short opportunities in Barclays Bank PLC iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures (VXX) and Barclays Bank PLC iPath S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures (VXZ).
So far this year, the VIX futures term structure has remained steeply upward sloping. This generates high roll costs for VXX and VXZ as they maintain their mandated weighted average exposures.
However, 1st and 2nd month (Short-Term) VIX futures and the VIX index are near all-time lows. As a result, the upside is more constrained than the downside for VXX (VIX Short-Term Futures), as volatility has historically shown to be a mean-reverting asset class.
Looking higher up on the term structure to the VIX Mid-Term Futures, these futures are closer to the VIX index’s historical mean-reverting value. As a result, during a spike in the VIX index, VIX Mid-Term Futures (VXZ) can increase less than VIX Short-Term Futures (VXX). Although the Mid-Term Futures’ roll costs are less than the VIX Short-Term Futures (i.e. less upside), VXZ downside risk is considerably less. Therefore, I will only maintain a short position in VXZ.
Get to know Robert:
The investments discussed are held in client accounts as of April 1, 2013. These investments may or may not be currently held in client accounts. The reader should not assume that any investments identified were or will be profitable or that any investment recommendations or investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable.
I have a passion for investing and have been actively managing my personal brokerage accounts since I was an undergraduate at Cornell University.
Through my studies at Cornell, I realized that the only way to accurately statistically model an asset is to determine what the average price of that asset should be. I use VIX futures to implement my investment strategy, based on my valuation assumptions.