(BLOOMBERG) — While the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) has continued moving lower following its February surge, suggesting that some calm has returned to the markets, Credit Suisse Group AG’s Fear Barometer just hit a new high.
The index, which measures the opportunity cost of buying protection against a decline in stocks, usually sees increases like this due to higher demand for “puts,” or options which give investors the right to sell equities, and lower demand for “calls,” which give the right to buy. Specifically, the barometer calculates how far “out of the money” an investor would have to go to purchase a three-month put on the S&P 500 that is the same price as a 10-percent out of the money three-month call option.
This time, however, the firm says the entire move was driven by lower demand for calls. This means that people are putting a much higher probability on stocks falling rather than rising.