QuikSkew™: A Snapshot of the Vol Curve

You can think of QuikSkew™ as a snapshot of the shape of the volatility curve that normalizes for high/low volatility environments. The format is a number followed by the letter “P” and then another number followed by the letter “C” as shown here:

This example is from the TWiO Report, so the QuikSkew™ measure on top (bold, blue text) is the current value and the measure on the bottom (normal, black text) is a historical measure such as prior day, prior week, etc. (specified by the user in the report controls at the top of the page). The values shown are for 25-delta options (also specified by the user). We’ll examine the current value – e. g. 24.5P-18.1c.

Interpreting QuikSkew™

The first value is the richness or cheapness of the puts to the at-the-money (ATM) volatility followed by the letter “P.” If the “P” is capitalized it indicates that the put volatility is rich to the ATM – e. g. the put volatility is greater than the ATM volatility – while a lowercase “p” indicates that the puts are cheaper – e. g. the put volatility is less than the ATM volatility. Therefore, the number, 24.5, with a capital “P” indicates that the 25-delta puts are 24.5% rich to the ATM. That is, if the ATM volatility is 10, then the 25-delta put volatility is

10 + 10 * 24.5% = 12.45

The second value is the richness or cheapness of the calls to the ATM, followed by either a capital “C” denoting that the calls are rich to the ATM or a lowercase “c” denoting that they’re cheap by comparison. In the above example – “18.1c” – the lowercase “c” indicates that the 25-delta calls are 18.1% cheap to the ATM volatility. Mathematically, if the ATM volatility is 10, then the 25-delta call volatility is equal to

10 - 10 * 18.1%  = 8.19

Change over time

The historical measure – “24.9P-20.1c” – shows that 25-delta puts went from being 24.9% rich vs. the ATM to 24.5% rich vs. the ATM – that is, the puts are less rich now than previously; while the 25-delta calls went from being 20.1% cheap vs. the ATM to 18.1% cheap vs. the ATM – that is, they are less cheap now than they were previously. We can imagine this as a flattening of the volatility curve when normalized for any changes in the ATM volatility level.