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Small-Caps Vs. Volatility: Who Blinks?

Though the Russell 2000 is off its highs, its volatility expectations are hitting 52-week lows; which is correct?

A couple times in recent months (here and here), we have written posts pointing out odd behavior between the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Volatility Index, a.k.a., the VIX. Since stocks and their related volatility indices typically move in opposite directions, it was odd to see the 2 moving in concert, even if it was just in the very short-term. Each time, we asked the question, “who will blink, the S&P 500 or the VIX?” As it turns out, arguably it was the VIX that blinked both times, eventually reversing course to a more conventional path given the direction of the S&P 500.

Today, we ask a similar question regarding the Russell 2000 Small-Cap Index (RUT), and the Russell 2000 Volatility Index (RVX). The impetus behind the question is the unusual set of circumstances currently present in the two data series. Specifically, The RVX recently closed at a 52-week low while the Russell 2000 was more than 2% off of its recent high.

That may not seem all that extraordinary. However, since the inception of the RVX in 2006, it is just the 6th unique time that the RVX has hit a 52-week low while the RUT was at least 1% below its 52-week high.

So what is the message being sent here? Judging by the prior events, there appears to be a clear favorite for who is most likely to blink.

See the “all-access” breakdown of this unusual and telling small-cap phenomenon – as well as our complete macro market analysis every day – at our new site, The Lyons Share.


Disclaimer: JLFMI’s actual investment decisions are based on our proprietary models. The conclusions based on the study in this letter may or may not be consistent with JLFMI’s actual investment posture at any given time. Additionally, the commentary provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a recommendation to invest in any specific securities or according to any specific methodologies. Proper due diligence should be performed before investing in any investment vehicle. There is a risk of loss involved in all investments.