To start, for those of you wondering exactly what the “VIX” is, formally, it is an index of expected volatility in the returns of the S&P 500 Index. It’s calculated based on the prices of eight different put and call options. If that doesn’t mean much, it might help to think of the VIX as a fear index. When the market tanks, the VIX rises; when the market is smooth—and expected to remain so—the VIX is low. In other words, low VIX equals low fear.

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