Tests of the expectations hypothesis reveal that the slope of the VIX futures term structure predicts the direction but not the magnitude of the evolution of the short-end of the curve, but predicts neither the direction nor the magnitude of short-term changes in the long-end of the curve. Relative value seeking spread trades, constructed to exploit such violations, deliver excess returns with annualized Sharpe ratios equal or greater than those of volatility-writing strategies deployed by VIX ETN’s for a majority of the 32 spread trade combinations tested. I demonstrate that profits from beta-neutral variations of the spread trades, which are not compensation for taking on equity downside risk by design, are propagated by inflows of capital into VIX futures markets, after controlling for factors that measure changes in the availability of hedge fund capital, risk appetite, and momentum. At the heart of profits, and by extension the term structure anomalies, is a disproportionally elevated basis propagated by long VIX demand that enters the futures market through ETN channels.
Asensio, Ivan Oscar, "VIX futures term structure and the expectations hypothesis" (2019). Finance. 16.