Volatility shock triggered switch from risk-on to risk-off in January

Several benchmark equity indices hit new all-time highs in the first half of January.

The positive performance of high-risk assets came to an abrupt halt at the end of the month, however. In a single day, volatility determined using the VIX index increased from 23% to 37%; the third-largest surge on record measured relative to starting point. The financial shock was partly triggered by extraordinarily large price movements and high trading activity in the most heavily shorted companies in the equity market.

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