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Exploit VIX Percentile Threshold Rule Out-of-Sample?

July 11, 2023 • Posted in Equity Premium, Volatility Effects

Is the ability of the VIX percentile threshold rule described in “Using VIX and Investor Sentiment to Explain Stock Market Returns” to explain future stock market excess return in-sample readily exploitable out-of-sample? To investigate, we test a strategy (VIX Percentile Strategy) that each month holds SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) or 3-month U.S. Treasury bills (T-bills) according to whether a recent end-of-month level of the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is above or below a specified inception-to-date (not full sample) percentage threshold. To test sensitivities of the strategy to settings for its two main features, we consider:

  • Each of 70th, 75th, 80th, 85th or 90th percentiles as the VIX threshold for switching between T-bills and SPY.
  • Each of 0, 1, 2 or 3 skip months between VIX measurement and strategy response.

We focus on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) as essential performance metrics and use buy-and-hold SPY as a benchmark. We do not quantify frictions due to switching between SPY and T-bills for the VIX Percentile Strategy. Using end-of-month VIX levels since January 1990 and dividend-adjusted SPY prices and T-bill yields since January 1993 (SPY inception), all through May 2023, we find that: (more…)

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