Transitory Fear: Explaining Changes in the VIX Futures Basis
Journal of Investing, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2020
11 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019 Last revised: 27 Oct 2020
Date Written: May 31, 2019
Following the 2004 introduction of VIX futures, they have become an increasingly important hedging instrument and aid for portfolio diversification. We examine changes in the futures basis which, owing to their unique characteristics, can be interpreted as changes in expectations of future VIX (“fear”) levels. We find that higher levels of VIX are associated with a narrowing of the futures basis, suggesting that investors view “fear” as transitory, and a flatter forward curve. We propose news sentiment as one plausible explanation for changes in the basis. A wider (narrower) basis accompanies the more positive (negative) news associated with a falling (rising) VIX index.
Keywords: VIX, Investor Fear, Futures, News Sentiment
JEL Classification: G10, G11, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation