Cboe exchange files to list new short volatility ETF

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By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cboe BZX Exchange has sought permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission to list shares of an exchange traded fund that would let investors bet against stock market gyrations, according to a regulatory filing.

The filing, dated Dec. 10, comes nearly two years after another short volatility exchange traded product, the VelocityShares Daily Inverse Short Term ETN, popularly called ‘XIV’, collapsed leading to billions of dollars in losses for investors.

The Cboe BZX Exchange ETF is designed to track the daily move in the Short VIX Futures index index, which itself measures a rolling positioning in the first and second month contracts on the Cboe VIX futures () , the filing said.

Owning the ETF’s share would essentially be a bet on stock market calm. Cboe BZX Exchange is operated by Cboe Global Markets (Z:).

U.S. stocks have risen sharply this year even as daily stock moves have remained muted, drawing interest from investors looking to make money from bets that the calm in equity markets will persist.

Exchange traded products (ETPs) that try to track stock market volatility have seen massive adoption since they were first introduced in 2009. These ETPs offer investors stock-like access to financial strategies that would be typically out of reach for retail investors.

In recent years, investors have poured billions of dollars into ETPs, such as the iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (P:) and the VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (O:).

VXX and TVIX, together have about $2 billion in assets, according to the fund’s website.

Since these products are designed to rise when stocks fall, they provide investors with a way to guard against a hit to equity markets.

The popularity of these ETPs led to the launch of other ETFs that sought to provide inverse returns to stock market volatility.

An extended period of stock market calm in 2016-2017 boosted the returns for these inverse ETPs with assets in XIV – the most popular of these products – growing to about $2 billion.

These products drew criticism when a sudden drop in the U.S. stock market in February 2018 wiped out most of the value of these ETPs and led to the collapse of some products, including XIV.

Demand for shorting volatility remains strong and the demise of XIV has led some investors to take to shorting long volatility ETPs as a way to bet against volatility.

Volatility Shares LLC will serve as sponsor for Cboe proposed ETF, while Tidal ETF Services LLC will serve as its administrator.

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