This week’s chart of the week takes a closer look at the CBOE volatility index (“VIX”) and the German implied volatility index (“VDAX”) in light of recent geopolitical events. Volatility indices are often described as “fear indices” that tend to increase with market uncertainty. As uncertainty increases, investors typically prefer the safety of U.S. Treasuries, driving up bond prices and pushing yields lower.
• On August, 1st, President Obama announced sanctions on Russia; VIX and VDAX reached their highest levels in more than five months over concern of Russian retaliation.
• On August, 7th, President Obama authorized a targeted strike against Iraq; triggering the VDAX to reach the highest level of the year as concern over global equity markets lead investors to push the 10-Year Treasury yield to 2.43%.
• Finally, August, 15th marked the fall of the 10 Year-U.S. Treasury yield to the lowest in 14 months at 2.34%, due in part to the global tension in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East.
After spiking in early August on geopolitical worries, the VIX has returned to more normal levels seen throughout most of the year. However, with many of the geopolitical hotspots right on Germany’s doorstep, German market volatility has remained elevated. While U.S. investors may have put the latest crisis behind them, it is worth noting that markets closer to the epicenter of the conflict are not as sanguine.
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