With rapid fluctuations becoming commonplace in the major stock indexes, about the only thing there is to be certain of is uncertainty.
That's why the Chicago Board of Options Exchange's Volatility Index, or Vix as it is commonly known, provides a fascinating barometer on the market's changes over the past several weeks. In fact, the index has risen more than 30 percent since Nov. 1, providing a snapshot of a broader market prone to do just about anything on any given day.
"Everyone is a lot more nervous than they were the last four years," said Stacey Gilbert of Susquehanna Financial Group. "I think there is an expectation for more volatility."
The Vix's roots go back to 1993, when it was launched as a way to gauge market movement. The index measures options trading among Standard & Poor's 500 companies over a 30-day period. There is some disagreement over what represents true volatility on the Vix, though it's generally accepted that a reading over 20 represents a volatile market and 30 represents high volatility. The Vix currently stands at about 27.
With markets likely to continue to tumble and roll, analysts say the results will be visible in the Vix.