After the twin surprises last year of Brexit and Trump, most investors hoped that 2017 would be a quieter year from a political perspective. That is now looking like wishful thinking. Seemingly whilst last year was all about the breaking news, this year’s focus is on the implementation of that news. In the UK, voters have been asked to return to the ballot box for the third consecutive year whilst over the pond the odds continue to shorten on Donald Trump not seeing out his full first term as President. With this uncertain political backdrop, it might come as a surprise to learn that the stock market’s most commonly used measure of uncertainty and fear – the VIX index – recently touched its lowest level for 20 years. In this overview, we explain the concept of the VIX index and consider its relevance in judging the risk inherent in equity markets along with its usefulness in protecting portfolios against the volatility that it measures.