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So, this might look like gambling, but I recently read about a get-rich-quick scheme: trading SVXY or XIV or ZIV or whatever ETF/ETN there is that shorts the VIX futures in some way, buying whenever the VIX spikes to some high number (e.g. 25+) and selling after x% profit is achieved, rinse and repeat.

Now, I saw a big problem: Google Finance reported that XIV went from $190 to $5 in 2011. Was that true? On both Yahoo Finance and Nasdaq, they claimed that it went from $19 to $5. Which should I believe?

Of course, even $19 to $5 is bad, so I won't buy if VIX is (1) going up and (2) in backwardation--as buying while the crash is happening is the quickest way for me to wipe out my portfolio.

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On Monday, the 27th of June 2011, the XIV ETF underwent a 10:1 share split.

The Yahoo Finance data correctly shows the historic price data adjusted for this split. The Google Finance data does not make the adjustment to the historical data, so it looks like the prices on Google Finance prior to 27 June 2011 are being quoted at 10 times what they should be.

Coincidentally, the underlying VIX index saw a sudden surge on the Friday (24 June) and continued on the Monday (27 June), the date that the split took effect. This would have magnified the bearish moves seen in the historic price data on the XIV ETF.

Here is a link to an article detailing the confusion this particular share split caused amongst investors. It appears that Google Finance was not the only one to bugger it up. Some brokers failed to adjust their data causing a lots of confusion amongst clients with XIV holdings at the time.

This is a recurring problem on Google Finance, where the historic price data often (though not always) fails to account for share splits.

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