Besides going over the course syllabus during the first day of class on Tuesday, January 16, we will also discuss a particularly important “real world” example of financial risk. Specifically, we will study the relationship between realized daily stock market returns (as measured by daily percentage changes in the SP500 stock market index) and changes in forward-looking investor expectations of stock market volatility (as indicated by daily percentage changes in the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX)):

As indicated by this graph (which also appears in the lecture note for the first day of class), daily percentage changes in closing prices for the SP500 (the y-axis variable) and the VIX (the x-axis variable) are strongly negatively correlated with each other. The blue dots are based on 8,574 contemporaneous observations of daily returns for both variables, spanning 34 years starting on January 2, 1990, and ending on January 12, 2024. When we fit a regression line through this scatter diagram, we obtain the following equation:

,

where corresponds to the daily return on the SP500 index and corresponds to the daily return on the VIX index. The slope of this line (-0.1147) indicates that *on average*, daily closing SP500 returns are *inversely related* to daily closing VIX returns. Furthermore, nearly half of the variation in the stock market return during this period (specifically, 48.87%) can be statistically “explained” by changes in volatility, and the correlation between and during this period is -0.70. While a correlation of -0.70 does not imply that daily closing values for and always move in opposite directions, it *does* suggest that this will be the case more often than not. Indeed, closing daily values recorded for and during this period moved inversely 78% of the time.

You can also see how the relationship between the SP500 and VIX evolves prospectively by entering http://finance.yahoo.com/quotes/^GSPC,^VIX into your web browser’s address field.