VIX All-Time Lows and Sub-10 Days Overview

All-Time Lowest VIX Close

All-time lowest VIX close was 9.31 on 22 December 1993.

The second lowest VIX close was 9.36 on 21 July 2017.

The third is actually two days, both with 9.43 close: 24 and 25 July 2017.

All-Time Lowest Intraday VIX

All-time lowest intraday VIX value was 8.84 on 26 July 2017.

The second lowest intraday VIX was 8.89 on 27 December 1993.

These are the only two days in history when the VIX got below 9.

Rank 3 is 25 July 2017 with 9.04.

The above figures are correct as at 1 September 2017.

Summer 2017 Record Low VIX

In the last few months we have seen some of the lowest VIX values in history. Actually, measured by the number of sub-10 VIX days, summer 2017 is unprecedented.

Up to the end of August, there have been 18 days so far in 2017 when the VIX closed below 10 (4 days in May, 3 in June, 10 in July, and 1 in August).

Compare this to the 27 years ending 2016 (available history goes back to January 1990), when there were only 9 days with sub-10 VIX closes in that entire period.

Sub-10 VIX Closes before 2017

1. 22 December 1993 = 9.31
2. 23 December 1993 = 9.48
3. 27 December 1993 = 9.70
4. 28 December 1993 = 9.82
5. 24 January 2007 = 9.89
6. 21 November 2006 = 9.90
7. 28 January 1994 = 9.94
8. 20 November 2006 = 9.97
9. 14 December 2006 = 9.97

You can see that all these sub-10 closes occurred in only two periods: winter 1993-1994 (the first four are the quiet days around Christmas 1993) and winter 2006-2007.

The lowest summer VIX close (actually, the lowest for all months from March to October) before 2017 was 10.23 on 20 July 2005.

Sub-10 Intraday VIX Days before 2017

Looking at intraday lows, there were only 18 sub-10 days before 2017, including of course the 9 days with sub-10 close listed above.

1. 27 December 1993 = 8.89
2. 12 July 1993 = 9.11
3. 23 December 1993 = 9.17
4. 22 December 1993 = 9.28
5. 15 December 2006 = 9.39
6. 28 January 1994 = 9.59
7. 14 December 2006 = 9.64
8. 13 December 1993 = 9.65
9. 28 December 1993 = 9.70
10. 14 February 2007 = 9.70
11. 22 November 2006 = 9.81
12. 21 November 2006 = 9.84
13. 24 January 2007 = 9.87
14. 20 July 2005 = 9.88
15. 20 November 2006 = 9.91
16. 25 January 2007 = 9.95
17. 2 February 2007 = 9.96
18. 16 February 2007 = 9.98

The periods represented are again mostly the winters of 1993-1994 and 2006-2007, with only 2 days outside these: 12 July 1993 and the already mentioned 20 July 2005.

Up to the end of August, we’ve had 38 days with sub-10 VIX low in 2017.

What Happens After Major Lows?

It is tempting to jump to the conclusion that given the record low VIX values, the index must surge to much higher values very soon (and, possibly, a stock market crash is just around the corner).

Let’s have a look at the long-term chart.

You can clearly identify three periods of historical VIX lows – the already mentioned 1993-1994, 2006-2007, and summer 2017. From a closer look at the chart, you should notice two things about the lows and the things that followed.

Firstly, such periods of very low VIX can last for years. While the index rises to mid teens (and sometimes 20’s) quite often, betting on a jump to the 30’s and 40’s is a gamble, which may cost you a lot of money (remember that due to the contango in VIX futures, betting on the VIX to rise when it’s very low is very expensive). There have been periods of many years when the VIX didn’t get above 30 even once.

Secondly, while many of us still clearly remember the wild swings of 2008-2009 which followed after the low volatility period of 2005-2007, when you look at the other major VIX low in the 1990’s, you will see that the way the VIX climbed from there was much more gradual and we only saw some real action during the financial crises of 1997-1998.

We should also keep in mind that, apparently, we are only in the third major long-term VIX low in the entire VIX history, which doesn’t give us a statistical sample large enough to drive any strong conclusions.

In sum, anything can happen. The VIX can jump to 50 next month, but it can also keep on lingering in the low teens for a few more years, with occasional spikes to high teens or 20’s. All-time VIX low alone is probably not a sufficient reason for wild long volatility bets. That said, there has been a slight seasonality pattern in the VIX history with lower volatility winters and summers (which we can also base on logical real world assumptions, i.e. holidays) – but VIX seasonality is a topic for another piece.

See also the overview of VIX all-time highs.