Would I Initiate an Iron Condor Trade with VIX at 12?

Answer is yes!

The question posed in the title implies that you might trade Iron Condors some months and possibly not others.  Maybe when the implied Volatility is up a bit you will sell the Iron Condor, but when it’s  low you won’t. That’s what Volatility Trading is all about, selling high volatility and buying low volatility. Though in the last few years, option volatilities have basically been low consistently.

I teach Retail traders to trade Iron Condors in the same vehicle every month or every week, depending on your preference of Weekly versus Monthly Iron Condors. The Iron Condor is a Probability trade and when you have probabilities in your favor , you need to play every hand and you expect to win over time. So the long winded answer is yes, we sell Iron Condors when VIX is 12, 15, 18, 24, etc. How we manage them when VIX is 12 versus 25 may be a bit different,

I will explain.  let’s look at an example of an Iron Condor in SPX for the February Expiration ( 42 days from expiration. Editors Note: Dan sent this trade to us a few days ago). With SPX at $1836 I am looking at the 1890-1900 Call credit spread and the 1745-1755 Put credit spread.  I am picking the strikes in this example by selling the strikes at about a 16 delta, making this roughly a 1 standard deviation Iron Condor.  Combining the two credit spreads makes an Iron Condor, the current credit for this would be around $2.60.

Is this a little lower than a normal 42 day Iron Condor with the short strikes sold at about a 16 delta?  On October 4th when VIX was around 17, a similar 42 day Iron Condor with shorts sold at around a 16 delta, the credit was around $2.80, a bit higher than the current $2.60 credit, but the short  strikes I would be selling on Oct 4 were 15-25 points farther out-of-the money, giving more price protection. So on October 4, would we get more credit and room for a 42 day Iron Condor in SPX than we would today?  Yes.  But does that mean we shouldn’t trade Iron Condors when Implied Volatility is low?

No, I advocate trading every week or every month. I also advocate having a profit and loss plan when you start. But how might I trade an Iron Condor a bit differently when VIX is 12 and premiums are low? Three Choices: #1 Just do the SPX call side  #2  Do both sides, but if we start going down and I need to adjust, I would grab a long SPX put. This would really help me survive a further Volatility expansion and a big price decline.  #3  Don’t do the Iron Condor. I would choose #1 or #2, probably #2, and buying a put if we start declining.

The key is to trade Iron Condors every week or month, but how we adjust or tweak them depends on the price and Volatility levels in the market.   Have a great trading Year!  dan@sheridanmentoring.com