Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

The 'Black Swan Index' is on a scary flight higher

'Black Swan' index outlook

Where some investors see nothing but rolling green fields and placid summer lakes, others see black swans circling high above.

Such is the picture painted when comparing the widely followed Chicago Board Options Exchange —the market's "fear" gauge— and its sister measure, the Skew, aka the "Black Swan Index," which charts, well, lots of fear. (The black swan is a metaphor for a highly unusual occurrence and took on added significance in the market following Nassim Taleb's 2007 book, "The Black Swan.")

While the VIX is closing in on historic lows and has tumbled nearly 20 percent year-to-date meaning there is a high level of complacency among investors the Skew has surged in June, rising more than 12 percent for the month.

Taken together, the two measures reflect an interesting dichotomy among investors.