A tactical asset allocation strategy that exploits variations in VIX

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Buy and hold strategies make staying disciplined difficult for investors, especially given the variability of returns for different asset classes/strategies during divergent market conditions. Market timing strategies, on the other hand, present significant theoretical benefits, but in reality these benefits are difficult to obtain. Tactical asset allocation, where limited deviations from the strategic allocation are allowed permits the portfolio manager to take advantage of market conditions fits between these two extremes. The authors correlate daily returns for each of eighteen separate asset classes typically used in diversified institutional portfolios and daily closing values of the VIX (the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index). This information is used to select those classes whose returns are most responsive to the level of the VIX. Portfolio allocations for eight selected asset classes are revised depending on the level of the VIX at the daily close of the market. The portfolio is rebalanced on the business day following the day the VIX hits the trigger value. The VIX tactical allocation overlay yields an increase in return over the buy and hold portfolio of approximately 38 basis points. The authors conclude that the tactical asset allocation strategy based on the level of VIX provides a higher return than the neutral buy and hold allocation with a higher Sharpe ratio and lower volatility.

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    • Table 1. Asset class returns vs the VIX
    • Table 2. Asset allocation vs the VIX
    • Table 3. Annual return statistics
    • Table 4. Difference in returns and standard deviations, VIX minus neutral
    • Table 5. Difference in Sharpe Ratio, VIX minus Neutral