Market volatility has essentially become a mainstream metric in the investment realm – especially for anyone who does any short-term trading. Most traders are now aware of what the VIX is and how a higher level in the volatility index usually means more uncertainty in the market.
While investors and traders may not be able to explain what the VIX actually is (the implied volatility of S&P 500 options), they do realize it’s important to keep an eye on market volatility. Generally speaking, higher volatility levels can precede a selloff in stocks. Conversely, a falling VIX may give us an “all clear” signal during more tumultuous times.
Options traders should be more intimately familiar with the concept of volatility. Since volatility is the key component in the calculation of options prices, it is vital for active options traders to have at a least a basic understanding of how it works.
One thing I’ve noticed while speaking at the MoneyShow and Traders Expo investment conferences is that traders appear to have a growing interest and understanding of volatility. It’s definitely an encouraging trend. The more options traders (and stock traders for that matter) understand about volatility and how it impacts the market, the better chance they have of avoiding catastrophic losses.