Using Options To Trade Volatility

Using options to trade volatility

Question about Volcube?

Options trading basics teaches us that the VIX or CBOE Volatility Index reflects the market’s expectation of the upcoming 30-day volatility.

It measures market risk and is also known as the investor fear gauge.

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With this in mind, covered call writers are faced with a dilemma. Increased market volatility will translate into higher option premiums because the time value component of the premium is directly related to volatility.

On the other hand, a high overall market volatility increases our risk as share value can plummet and erase our initial gains.

So, is a higher VIX a positive or a negative?


Evaluating the VIX from a covered call writing perspective

One question that is frequently posed to me is that if the VIX is low do we stop selling calls because of lower premiums?

Using options to trade volatility

This implies that a high VIX is a positive for covered call writers. Let’s take a look at an extreme example in 2008 when the VIX went from the 20 – 30 level to the 70 – 80 level in the last 4 months of the year before it ultimately moved lower:


VIX in 2008


As a general rule, the VIX and the performance of the overall market (S&P 500) are inversely related as demonstrated in the chart below where the market takes a dive in the last 4 months of 2008:

S&P 500 in 2008

To confirm this relationship, let’s look at a comparison chart of the VIX and the S&P 500 in the 5 years after the 2008 recession.

In the chart below, note how when the VIX (black line) declined, the overall market (blue line) accelerated and vice-versa.

Options Trading: How to Trade Volatility Dispersion

Whenever there was a short-term spike up in the VIX, there was a corresponding decline in the market performance (yellow fields):

VIX vs. the S&P 500 from 2008 – 2013


The VIX in 2018


Inverse Relationship of the VIX and the S&P 500



VIX and covered call writing

Covered call writing is a conservative strategy and those who use it are generally conservative investors looking to generate cash flow with capital preservation in mind.

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As such, a high VIX is no friend of covered call writers although we can use our common sense principles to manage those scenarios. A low VIX (under 20) is usually a positive for us because it means a more stable market and oftentimes a rising market as we experienced from 2009 through 2017 and into 2018.

How to manage a high VIX:

We can “stay in the game” by selling in-the-money strikes (purple field), using options with lower implied volatility (set goals at 1 – 3% instead of 2 – 4%) and use low beta stocks from our premium reports and ETFs.

How to manage a low VIX:

This is one of the factors that will give us the confidence to take a more bullish stance and sell at-the-money and out-of-the-money strikes (yellow field) with higher beta stocks and higher implied volatility options.

The exit strategies selected in these environments are detailed in my books and DVD Programs.



The VIX is a factor that should be considered in our covered call writing decisions.

Using options to trade volatility

It should neither be feared nor embraced but rather managed using the fundamental, technical and common-sense principles of the BCI methodology.


New covered call writing DVD program now available with early-order $50 discount expiring soon

Our objective was to create the most complete and comprehensive video program on covered call writing found anywhere.

The 4-set video curriculum takes us through the 3-required skills: stock selection, option selection, and position management.

Using options to trade volatility

The 4th section highlights special circumstances like writing calls against long-term buy-and-hold portfolios.

You Will Learn:
– How to locate the greatest performing stocks for option-selling
– Which Is the best option to sell
– How To calculate your returns
– How To utilize exit strategies – Decrease losses & enhance gains

The program is based on 25 years of actual trading options, not on computer models.

All the rules and guidelines presented are based on these real-life experiences. This series will benefit both beginners and more experienced investors and addresses all scenarios that can arise before, during and after trade executions.

Use this promo code for a $50.00 discount off the $149.00 price:


The program also includes a downloadable workbook.


Your generous testimonials

Over the years, the BCI community has been incredibly gracious by sending our BCI team email testimonials sharing stories as to what our educational content has meant to their families.

Moving forward, we have decided to share some of these testimonials in our blog articles. We will never use a last name unless given permission:

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Hello Alan,

Thank you very much for all the knowledge you teach, it really changed my life.




Upcoming events

September 14, 2019: Charlotte Chapter of The American Association for Individual Investors

“Converting Non-Dividend Stocks to Dividend-Like Securities”

Live webinar (link to follow)

Saturday from 10 AM – 12:PM ET


September 27, 2019 at 1:30 PM ET: Philadelphia Money Show

“How to Select the Best Options in Bull and Bear Markets”



Market tone data is now located on page 1 of our premium member stock reports.



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