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A VIX Trading Strategy


As you embark on your journey into the exciting world of algorithmic trading, one strategy that may intrigue you is the VIX Trading Strategy. Developed around the Volatility Index (VIX), this distinctive approach taps into the heart of market fear and uncertainty, offering unique opportunities for traders.

Deciphering the VIX

The Volatility Index, colloquially known as the ‘fear gauge,’ is a measure of expected market volatility. This unique index is designed to represent traders’ expectations for volatility over the coming 30 days, based on options prices for the S&P 500 index. When the VIX is high, it suggests that traders anticipate significant market movement. Conversely, a low VIX suggests an expectation of smaller price swings, indicating a calm market. Understanding these dynamics is key to effectively implementing the VIX Trading Strategy.

Implementing the Strategy

Implementing the VIX Trading Strategy can be surprisingly straightforward, especially when leveraged within an algorithmic trading context. At its core, the strategy involves going long (buying) when the VIX is high, indicating a high level of fear in the market, and going short (selling) when the VIX is low, signaling market complacency. However, like all trading strategies, it’s critical to understand that the VIX Trading Strategy isn’t foolproof and involves substantial risk.

VIX Trading Strategy

The Power of Algorithmic Trading with the VIX

Algorithmic trading simplifies the execution of the VIX Trading Strategy. It allows traders to make consistent, disciplined trading decisions based on predetermined rules, removing human emotion from the equation. This is particularly valuable with the VIX Trading Strategy, given the high level of market emotion it aims to exploit.

The Role of Backtesting

Backtesting is a vital part of algorithmic trading, particularly when employing the VIX Trading Strategy. This process involves applying your algorithmic trading strategy to historical data to evaluate its performance. Backtesting helps verify your strategy before live trading, enhancing your confidence in its potential efficacy.

The Importance of Risk Management

Risk management is critical when executing any trading strategy. Using stop-loss orders, setting trading limits, and diversifying your portfolio are all crucial risk management techniques that can help protect your investments.

The Code

This script initializes an algorithmic trading bot using the QuantConnect API. The bot is set to trade the VIX. When the VIX is high (over 30, indicating market fear), the bot buys. When the VIX is low (below 20, indicating market complacency), the bot sells. This is a very basic implementation. As always, please remember to thoroughly backtest and evaluate the risk of any trading algorithm before deploying it with real money.

#region imports
from AlgorithmImports import *
from QuantConnect import *
from QuantConnect.Algorithm import *
from QuantConnect.Data.Market import TradeBar
from QuantConnect.Indicators import SimpleMovingAverage

class VIXAlgorithm(QCAlgorithm):
    def Initialize(self):
        self.SetStartDate(2013, 1, 1)
        self.vixSymbol = self.AddData(Vix, "vix", Resolution.Daily).Symbol
        self.spy = self.AddEquity("SPY", Resolution.Daily)
        self.last_vix_close = None

    def OnData(self, data):
        if not data.ContainsKey(self.vixSymbol):
        vixClose = data[self.vixSymbol].Value
        self.last_vix_close = vixClose
        if data.ContainsKey(self.spy.Symbol):
            if self.last_vix_close is None:
            if self.last_vix_close >= 20 and self.Portfolio[self.spy.Symbol].Quantity <= 0:
                self.SetHoldings(self.spy.Symbol, 1)
            elif self.last_vix_close <= 12 and self.Portfolio[self.spy.Symbol].Quantity >= 0:
                self.SetHoldings(self.spy.Symbol, -1)

class Vix(PythonData):
    def GetSource(self, config, date, isLiveMode):
        return SubscriptionDataSource("", SubscriptionTransportMedium.RemoteFile)

    def Reader(self, config, line, date, isLiveMode):
        if line.strip() == '':
            return None

        index = Vix()
        index.Symbol = config.Symbol
            data = line.split(',')
            if data[0] == "DATE":
                return None
            index.Time = datetime.strptime(data[0], "%m/%d/%Y")
            index.Value = float(data[4])
        except Exception as e:
            return None
        return index
#region imports
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using QuantConnect.Data;
using QuantConnect.Indicators;
using QuantConnect.Data;
using System.Globalization;

namespace QuantConnect.Algorithm.CSharp 
    public class VIXAlgorithm : QCAlgorithm
        private Symbol vixSymbol;
        private Symbol spy;
        private decimal lastVixClose;

        public override void Initialize()
            SetStartDate(2013, 1, 1);

            vixSymbol = AddData<Vix>("vix", Resolution.Daily).Symbol;
            spy = AddEquity("SPY", Resolution.Daily).Symbol;

        public override void OnData(Slice data)
            if (!data.ContainsKey(vixSymbol)) return;

            var vixClose = data[vixSymbol].Value;
            lastVixClose = vixClose;

            if (data.ContainsKey(spy))
                if (lastVixClose >= 20m && Portfolio[spy].Quantity <= 0)
                    SetHoldings(spy, 1);
                else if (lastVixClose <= 12m && Portfolio[spy].Quantity >= 0)
                    SetHoldings(spy, -1);

    public class Vix : BaseData
        public override SubscriptionDataSource GetSource(SubscriptionDataConfig config, DateTime date, bool isLiveMode)
            var source = new SubscriptionDataSource("", SubscriptionTransportMedium.RemoteFile);
            return source;

        public override BaseData Reader(SubscriptionDataConfig config, string line, DateTime date, bool isLiveMode)
            if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(line))
                return null;

            var index = new Vix {Symbol = config.Symbol};

                var data = line.Split(',');
                if (data[0] == "DATE") return null;

                index.Time = DateTime.ParseExact(data[0], "MM/dd/yyyy", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
                index.Value = decimal.Parse(data[4]);
            catch (Exception)
                return null;

            return index;


The VIX Trading Strategy can be a powerful tool in your algorithmic trading toolkit. Remember, though, that understanding the VIX, backtesting your strategy, and implementing solid risk management techniques are all integral to successful trading. Happy trading!


The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham

Algorithmic Trading: Winning Strategies and Their Rationale” by Ernie Chan


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