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Market Extra: How Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ is being rigged, according to one whistleblower

One of the most popular measures of volatility is being manipulated, charges one individual who submitted a letter anonymously to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The letter makes the claim to regulators that fake quotes for the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.26% are skewing levels of the Cboe Volatility Index VIX, -2.50% which reflects bearish and bullish options bets 30-days in the future on the S&P 500 to gauge implied stock-market volatility (see excerpt from the letter below).

The flaw allows trading firms with sophisticated algorithms to move the VIX up or down by simply posting quotes on S&P options and without needing to physically engage in any trading or deploying any capital.

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