option education

A Supplement To $VIX (09:07)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 9, No. 7 on April 13, 2000.

The CBOE’s Volatility Index ($VIX) has been a stalwart for option traders and technicians since it was introduced in the early 1990's. The $VIX measures the implied volatility of $OEX options. However, in recent months, the trading in $OEX options has slowed dramatically, and many traders have forsaken them for the more active and volatile equity options – especially NASDAQ options. As a result, $VIX is becoming harder to interpret. Therefore, we thought that perhaps another Volatility Index could be constructed as a useful supplement to $VIX. It would be a “supplement” rather than a “replacement” because there may come a day when most speculators return to the $OEX market. If that were to happen, then $VIX would regain its former place as a premier measure of public sentiment.

$VIX Options Set To Begin (15:02)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 15, No. 2 on January 26, 2006.

After a lengthy delay, the CBOE has announced that $VIX futures will begin trading on Friday, February 24th. We first wrote about these options last March (2005) when it seemed imminent that they would begin trading. However, there was a delay – a delay which is about over. In this article, we’ll lay out the specifications of the contracts once again, and refresh your memories on a few important points about how the contracts might trade.

First and foremost, it should be understood that these are options on the cash $VIX, much as there are options on $SPX or $OEX. These are not options on any of the Volatility or Variance futures. As a cashbased index option, they can be traded in a regular stock option account, with your favorite brokerage firm, just as index options can.

Strategies For Volatility: Calendar Spreads (04:12)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 4, No. 12 on June 21, 1995.

When volatility increases, the option prices increase. This simple statement is the main philosophy behind owning options during periods of low volatility, especially if you think there is a fair chance of a price or volatility explosion occurring shortly after you buy your options. A strategist will generally prefer to own both puts and calls so that he can make money if the market moves up or down. Thus, owning a straddle (a put and call with the same striking price) or a combination (a put and a call with different striking prices) are the two simplest strategies that take advantage of increasing volatility. Another is the backspread, which we have been describing in a fair amount of detail all through the spring of this year. We currently have four backspread positions in place. We prefer the backspread to a straddle or a combination because it is easier to adjust the backspread as you go along, if you want to keep the position more or less neutral to market movement.

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Reverse Calendar Spreads (09:12)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 9, No. 12 on June 22, 2000.

The reverse calendar spread strategy is not one that is employed too often, probably because the margin requirements for stock and index option traders are rather onerous. However, it does have a place in an option trader’s arsenal, and can be an especially useful strategy with regard to futures options. The strategy has been discussed before in The Option Strategist, and it is apropos again because it can be applied to the expensive options in the oil and natural gas sectors currently.

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Expensive Options (05:18)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 5, No. 18 on September 19, 1996.

The volatility that has been introduced into the overall market since February has made most options expensive, or seemingly expensive. This comes after one of the most prolonged periods of depressed volatility that we have seen since options started trading: from 1991 through 1995 options were consistently on the cheap side, except for a few brief periods. Consequently, the current crop of option prices seems very expensive — especially considering what traders had become accustomed to over the past few years. In reality, it is more likely that they are just priced at higher absolute levels than one is accustomed to seeing. In this article, we want to address some strategies and tactics for handling "expensive" options.

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The Effects of High Volatility (17:22)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 17, No. 22 on November 26, 2008.

Option traders generally welcome volatile markets, for more strategies can be employed over the entire spectrum of optionable stocks. However, this market is arguably more volatile than any in history and, as such, presents a few problems and opportunities that traders might not ordinarily have considered. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those.

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The 55-Day Phenomenon

By Lawrence G. McMillan

Both the Crash of ‘29 and the Crash of ‘87 – two of the worst days in market history – occurred exactly 55 calendar days after the market had made an new all-time high.  In other words, 55 days after the top, people are getting anxious.  For those who believe in this theory, rather than coincidences, it supposedly has something to do with Fibonacci and/or biorhythms – who knows?  

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More On the Effects Of Volatility (09:05)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 9, No. 05 on March 9, 2000.

Two issues ago, we wrote about the effects of changes in implied volatility on a call bull spread. Several readers asked about similar effects on other “common” positions – especially on put spreads – so we’ll expand on that theme this week

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The recording for head McMillan Options Mentoring mentor Stan Feifeld's latest webinar is now available below or by clicking here. To take advantage of special offers tied to the event, or to receive a PDF of the slides accompanying the presentation, click here

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Is A Rising $VIX Always Dangerous? (12:11)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 12, No. 11 on June 12, 2003.

Admittedly, option traders’ “hot” topics may sometimes be pretty boring to the average guy, but this question (above) has been the subject of much discussion amongst all manner of stock market analysts. Recently, the various volatility averages began to rise, even while the broad stock market was rising. This is something that hasn’t happened for a few years, and it also seemed to go against the “conventional” (and I should mention, incorrect) volatility analyses that one is often subjected to when watching financial TV these days. So, just what does this rise in volatility mean, coming as it does during a period of rising prices? That’s what we’ll explore in the feature article in this issue.

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