Herrick Payoff Index

A forward-looking technical analysis tool that uses price, volume, and open interest to find trends and reversals

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What is the Herrick Payoff Index?

The Herrick Payoff Index is a forward-looking technical analysis tool used to identify trends in derivative markets. Using price, volume, and open interest, the index provides an overview of money flow in the derivative markets, which investors can use as an indication of bullish or bearish trends. Open interest is the number of outstanding derivative contracts that are still open at the end of the trading day.

Herrick Payoff Index


  • The Herrick Payoff Index is a forward-looking technical analysis tool. The index uses price, volume, and open interest to find trends and reversals.
  • The index offers four situations – bullish continuation, bullish reversal, bearish continuation, and bearish reversal.
  • The benefit of the Herrick Payoff Index is its forward-looking capacity to predict trends, as well as its ability to distinguish between short rallies and significant trends. The downside is that it can produce false signals, which can cause investors to incur losses.

How to Interpret the Herrick Payoff Index

To interpret the index, investors must compare the trends of price and index. There are four possible situations:

1. Bullish Continuation (rising prices and open interest)

The bullish continuation situation is characterized by rising prices and open interest, confirming the upwards trend of the derivative.

2. Bullish Reversal (falling prices and open interest)

The bullish reversal situation consists of both falling prices and open interest, signaling a decrease in selling pressure and, therefore, a potential rise in price in the future.

3. Bearish Continuation (falling prices and rising open interest)

The bearish continuation situation is a result of the divergence between price and open interest. Prices are falling while the open interest is rising, meaning that investors are continuing selling off the derivative and thus reaffirming that prices will continue to fall.

4. Bearish Reversal (rising prices and falling open interest)

The bearish reversal situation sees a divergence between price and open interest; while prices are rising, the open interest is actually falling. It signals that bullish investors are buying in at a lower rate, perhaps resulting in prices falling in the near future.

Herrick Payoff Index - Four Situations

When the index rises above zero, money is flowing into the market – a bullish outlook. Conversely, when the index falls to zero, money is flowing out of the market – a bearish outlook.

Benefits of the Herrick Payoff Index

Because the Herrick Payoff Index is a forward-looking indicator, it predicts trends that can be beneficial for investors looking ahead to make decisions. Investors can use the signals to sell their derivatives before the price drops or buy into the derivative just before prices rise. This is in contrast to many popular lagging indicators, such as moving averages, which use historical data to confirm long-term trends.

Another benefit of the indicator is its ability to distinguish between short rallies and significant trends. When the index is far above or below 0, it indicates a long-term trend. On the other hand, if the index hovers around 0, the trend is predicted to be short-lived.

Downsides of the Herrick Payoff Index

Just as any indicator, the Herrick Payoff Index cannot always accurately predict the future. With that said, the biggest downside with the index is that false signals can result in investors losing out.

For example, investors may choose to sell their assets because the index suggests that the upwards trend of prices may see a reversal in the near future. If the reversal does not materialize, the investor may feel regret for selling too early and not realizing the potential gains due to their decision to sell.

Conversely, investors may buy into derivatives thinking there will be a bull reversal coming up when in reality, the price just keeps falling. The best way to mitigate the false signal risk is by using the Herrick Payoff Index in conjunction with other indicators.

Additional Resources

CFI is the official provider of the global Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA)® certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional CFI resources below will be useful:

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