VIX All-Time High

VIX All-Time Highest Close

All-time highest VIX close was 80.86 on 20 November 2008.

The second highest VIX close was 80.06 on 27 October 2008.

These were the only two days in history when the VIX closed above 80.

VIX All-Time Intraday High

All-time highest VIX intraday value was 89.53 reached on 24 October 2008.

The VIX closed “only” at 79.13 on that day – the third highest close in history.

10 Highest VIX Closing Values in History

The following table shows 10 days with highest VIX closing values:

Rank Date Open High Low Close
1 20 November 2008 74.26 81.48 72.76 80.86
2 27 October 2008 79.13 81.65 65.90 80.06
3 24 October 2008 67.80 89.53 67.80 79.13
4 19 November 2008 68.46 75.00 67.34 74.26
5 21 November 2008 80.74 80.74 71.63 72.67
6 17 October 2008 67.65 74.48 59.82 70.33
7 29 October 2008 66.96 71.14 62.72 69.96
8 10 October 2008 65.85 76.94 65.63 69.95
9 22 October 2008 63.12 72.56 60.05 69.65
10 15 October 2008 55.69 69.47 55.69 69.25

All the 10 highest VIX closes occurred in October and November 2008, during the financial crisis. In fact, all 35 all-time highest VIX closes occurred in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 63 highest VIX closes occurred in the 6-month period from October 2008 to March 2009. The VIX has never been above 50 outside that period. This is also obvious from the long-term VIX chart:

VIX long term chart (1990-2013, closing values only)

Highest VIX Closing Values Outside October 2008 – March 2009

Outside the 2008-2009 financial crisis the highest VIX closes have been the following:

Rank Date Open High Low Close
1 8 August 2011 36.90 48.00 35.29 48.00
2 20 May 2010 41.79 46.37 40.30 45.79
3 8 October 1998 47.07 49.53 45.58 45.74
4 3 October 2011 44.25 45.55 41.51 45.45
5 10 September 1998 43.89 46.56 43.72 45.29
6 5 August 2002 41.95 45.21 41.77 45.08
7 23 July 2002 42.27 46.13 42.05 44.92
8 31 August 1998 39.74 45.02 38.80 44.28
9 11 September 1998 47.95 48.06 43.74 43.74
10 20 September 2001 41.40 43.76 41.17 43.74

VXO (Old VIX) All-Time High

Although the VIX above 80 from October and November 2008 seems extremely high, VIX all-time high would have been almost twice that level if it had been calculated since the 1980’s already. Data for the VIX index is available starting from 1990, but big part of that was back-calculated, because the current VIX calculation method is used only since 22 September 2003. Data for the old method is still being published by CBOE under the symbol VXO. It goes back to 1986 and therefore also includes the 1987 stock market crash.

All-time high close for VXO is 150.19 from 19 October 1987 (the Black Monday).

All-time intraday high for VXO is 172.79 from 20 October 1987 (the Tuesday after the Black Monday).

Below on the VXO chart (1986-2013) you can see how the 1987 highs compare with the 2008 highs:

VXO long term chart (1986-2013, closing values only)

Although the calculation and even the underlying market for VXO is different from the VIX, the differences in values are quite small. Here you can see the differences in VIX vs. VXO calculation (“New vs. Old VIX Calculation” – almost at the end of the page).

The VIX could have been even higher during big market crashes earlier in history (especially in the 1920’s), but we will never know that, because options were not traded at those times and there is no way to calculate or estimate anything even remotely close to VIX (because the VIX is calculated from option prices).

Here you can see similar statistics for VIX and VXO all-time lows.