Two More VIX ETNs Makes It a Baker’s Dozen (VZZ, VXZ, VXX)

In addition to the six new VIX-based ETNs launched yesterday by VelocityShares, two new VIX-based ETNs also traded yesterday for the first time.

Barclays added the iPath Long Enhanced S&P 500 VIX ETN (NYSE:VZZ) to their product lineup, bringing the total number of Barclays products in the space to five. VZZ is essentially a +2x version of the iPath S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN (NYSE:VXZ), with a target maturity of five months.  VZZ is the first leveraged volatility ETN from Barclays and is interesting in that the absence of a corresponding +2x iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSE:VXX) product suggests Barclays does not see the need for a leveraged VXX equivalent or perhaps finds the combination of leverage and high contango at the front end of the VIX futures term structure to be a daunting combination.

Elsewhere, UBS makes its entry into the VIX-based ETN fray with a huge splash. Their new product, XVIX, ups the innovation ante by combining a 100% long position in the S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures Excess Return Index with a 50% short position in the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Excess Return Index. Translated into Barclays terms, this would be roughly the equivalent of two units long VXZ and one unit short VXX. Depending upon the shape of the VIX futures term structure, UBS is hoping that XVIX will benefit from contango and also get a lift from an increase in volatility. The performance of XVIX going forward will be particularly interesting to watch.

I would expect the land grab in the volatility ETP space to settle down for a little while as investors evaluate the new menu of options.  In the meantime the chart below should help.  I have grayed out those products which have been announced, but not launched.

The most difficult part may be unlearning roman numerals in the process. I’m sure on some trading floor, however, some joker is yelling out, “I’m long 25 and 15, but short 70.”

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Written By Bill Luby From The VIX and More   Disclosure(s): short VXX at time of writing

Bill is a private investor who also authors the VIX and More ( blog and an investment newsletter from just north of San Francisco. His research and trading interests focus on volatility, market sentiment, technical analysis, and ETFs. Prior to becoming a full-time investor, Bill was a business strategy consultant for two decades and advised clients across a broad range of industries on issues such as strategy formulation, strategy implementation, and metrics. When not trading or blogging, he can often be found running, hiking, and kayaking in Northern California. Bill has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

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