Today I am sharing with the community a volatility indicator that uses the Nasdaq VXN Volatility Index to help you or your algorithms avoid black swan events. This is a similar the indicator I published last week that uses the SP500 VIX, but this indicator uses the Nasdaq VXN and can help inform strategies on the Nasdaq index or Nasdaq derivative instruments.

Variance is most commonly used in statistics to derive standard deviation (with its square root). It does have another practical application, and that is to identify outliers in a sample of data. Variance is defined as the squared difference between a value and its mean. Calculating that squared difference means that the farther away the value is from the mean, the more the variance will grow (exponentially). This exponential difference makes outliers in the variance data more apparent.

Why does this matter?

There are assets or indices that exist in the stock market that might make us adjust our trading strategy if they are behaving in an unusual way. In some instances, we can use variance to identify that behavior and inform our strategy.

Is that really possible?

Let’s look at the relationship between VXN and the Nasdaq100 as an example. If you trade a Nasdaq index with a mean reversion strategy or algorithm, you know that they typically do best in times of volatility . These strategies essentially attempt to “call bottom” on a pullback. Their downside is that sometimes a pullback turns into a regime change, or a black swan event. The other downside is that there is no logical tight stop that actually increases their performance, so when they lose they tend to lose big.

So that begs the question, how might one quantitatively identify if this dip could turn into a regime change or black swan event?

The Nasdaq Volatility Index ( VXN ) uses options data to identify, on a large scale, what investors overall expect the market to do in the near future. The Volatility Index spikes in times of uncertainty and when investors expect the market to go down. However, during a black swan event, historically the VXN has spiked a lot harder. We can use variance here to identify if a spike in the VXN exceeds our threshold for a normal market pullback, and potentially avoid entering trades for a period of time (I.e. maybe we don’t buy that dip).

Does this actually work?

In backtesting, this cut the drawdown of my index reversion strategies in half. It also cuts out some good trades (because high investor fear isn’t always indicative of a regime change or black swan event). But, I’ll happily lose out on some good trades in exchange for half the drawdown. Lets look at some examples of periods of time that trades could have been avoided using this strategy/indicator:

Example 1 – With the Volatility Warning Indicator, the mean reversion strategy could have avoided repeatedly buying this pullback that led to this asset losing over 75% of its value:

Example 2 - June 2018 to June 2019 - With the Volatility Warning Indicator, the drawdown during this period reduces from 22% to 11%, and the overall returns increase from -8% to +3%

How do you use this indicator?

This indicator determines the variance of VXN against a long term mean. If the variance of the VXN spikes over an input threshold, the indicator goes up. The indicator will remain up for a defined period of bars/time after the variance returns below the threshold. I have included default values I’ve found to be significant for a short-term mean-reversion strategy, but your inputs might depend on your risk tolerance and strategy time-horizon. The default values are for 1hr VXN data/charts. It will pull in variance data for the VXN regardless of which chart the indicator is applied to.

Disclaimer: Open-source scripts I publish in the community are largely meant to spark ideas or be used as building blocks for part of a more robust trade management strategy. If you would like to implement a version of any script, I would recommend making significant additions/modifications to the strategy & risk management functions. If you don’t know how to program in Pine, then hire a Pine-coder. We can help!

Variance is most commonly used in statistics to derive standard deviation (with its square root). It does have another practical application, and that is to identify outliers in a sample of data. Variance is defined as the squared difference between a value and its mean. Calculating that squared difference means that the farther away the value is from the mean, the more the variance will grow (exponentially). This exponential difference makes outliers in the variance data more apparent.

Why does this matter?

There are assets or indices that exist in the stock market that might make us adjust our trading strategy if they are behaving in an unusual way. In some instances, we can use variance to identify that behavior and inform our strategy.

Is that really possible?

Let’s look at the relationship between VXN and the Nasdaq100 as an example. If you trade a Nasdaq index with a mean reversion strategy or algorithm, you know that they typically do best in times of volatility . These strategies essentially attempt to “call bottom” on a pullback. Their downside is that sometimes a pullback turns into a regime change, or a black swan event. The other downside is that there is no logical tight stop that actually increases their performance, so when they lose they tend to lose big.

So that begs the question, how might one quantitatively identify if this dip could turn into a regime change or black swan event?

The Nasdaq Volatility Index ( VXN ) uses options data to identify, on a large scale, what investors overall expect the market to do in the near future. The Volatility Index spikes in times of uncertainty and when investors expect the market to go down. However, during a black swan event, historically the VXN has spiked a lot harder. We can use variance here to identify if a spike in the VXN exceeds our threshold for a normal market pullback, and potentially avoid entering trades for a period of time (I.e. maybe we don’t buy that dip).

Does this actually work?

In backtesting, this cut the drawdown of my index reversion strategies in half. It also cuts out some good trades (because high investor fear isn’t always indicative of a regime change or black swan event). But, I’ll happily lose out on some good trades in exchange for half the drawdown. Lets look at some examples of periods of time that trades could have been avoided using this strategy/indicator:

Example 1 – With the Volatility Warning Indicator, the mean reversion strategy could have avoided repeatedly buying this pullback that led to this asset losing over 75% of its value:

Example 2 - June 2018 to June 2019 - With the Volatility Warning Indicator, the drawdown during this period reduces from 22% to 11%, and the overall returns increase from -8% to +3%

How do you use this indicator?

This indicator determines the variance of VXN against a long term mean. If the variance of the VXN spikes over an input threshold, the indicator goes up. The indicator will remain up for a defined period of bars/time after the variance returns below the threshold. I have included default values I’ve found to be significant for a short-term mean-reversion strategy, but your inputs might depend on your risk tolerance and strategy time-horizon. The default values are for 1hr VXN data/charts. It will pull in variance data for the VXN regardless of which chart the indicator is applied to.

Disclaimer: Open-source scripts I publish in the community are largely meant to spark ideas or be used as building blocks for part of a more robust trade management strategy. If you would like to implement a version of any script, I would recommend making significant additions/modifications to the strategy & risk management functions. If you don’t know how to program in Pine, then hire a Pine-coder. We can help!

Want to build custom alerts and custom strategies? Interested in automated trading?

Hire me to code or automate your trading strategy, or schedule a free consultation at:

www.TradeAutomation.net

Hire me to code or automate your trading strategy, or schedule a free consultation at:

www.TradeAutomation.net