NaughtyPines

VIX: FOR THE NEXT POP, LADDERED SHORT CALL VERTS

TVC:VIX   VOLATILITY S&P 500
The last VIX             pop around elections, I chose to piddle with an SVXY             ATM short put credit spread (see post below). It worked out great, but SVXY             isn't the most liquid thing in the world (I knew that going in).

In comparison, VIX             options are about the cleanest short volatility setup you can get, although a small drawback is that you won't get the added contango erosion present in things like VXX             , UVXY             , and SVXY             . If you're going to go a similar route with one of these derivative instruments, however, I'd go with VXX             , since it's the most liquid of the trio.*

The notion here is to set up the ladder at the top of the "pop arc." Naturally, knowing where that is going to be precisely is impossible, but VIX             long-term history suggests that VIX             >20 is probably a place to start thinking about it. The highest rung of the ladder will basically be at-the-money, with lower rungs in-the-money and positioned for the "elevator ride down."

The first rung will be in an expiry 30 DTE             ;** the next rung, the next expiry after that, etc. This is to allow lower rungs additional time to work out since they have "have farther to go," so to speak, although if you look at the last "spike" around elections, this wouldn't have mattered much -- VIX             went from 23 to below 15 in a matter of days and a similar laddered setup in mid-November would have probably resulted in reaching max profit on "all the rungs" in fairly short order.

A variation is to "ratio" the number of contracts used, weighting the top rung, for example, with 3 contracts; the next one with 2; the third, with 1.

As far as trade management is concerned, I generally look to "money, take, run" with VIX/VIX derivatives. The "money, take, run" point is subjective, but I start thinking about taking stuff off at 50% max profit. If volatility doesn't recede below your short call strike by expiry, roll the setup out "as is" for duration and credit; VIX             inevitably drops below 15 at some point in time.

* -- If you're going to use VXX             (which is subject to contango), look at VIX             levels first and consider entering a VXX             laddered setup at based on VIX's price extreme. Alternatively, I've used Bollinger Bands (set to 2 SD             ) on a daily VXX             chart to give me a rough place to consider entering (around the upper Bollinger Band ).
** -- This can naturally be varied, starting the first rung two weeks out, the next, three, etc. I personally like to have at least 10-14 days to work with on my shortest duration setup.
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