Just last friday (14th January 2005), I wrote a blog entry saying that the VIX was very low, and it made a lot of sense to buy protection using put options on the S&P-500 at an implied volatility of 11%.
The VIX just rose and rose after that! [News story about VIX on Friday] The first opening price after that friday was at 12%. On Friday the 20th, it went up to 14.56%. Here's a table of the relevant data. While it's risen sharply, it's still at very low values by historical standards. I think all eyes will be on the VIX on Monday.
What happened!? Global equity markets have certainly become a lot more nervous. I could discern one potentially important piece of new bad news: that high US consumption based on home equity extraction could be coming to an end.