Many eyes are watching the VIX as it has not decayed recently and made another new low. This holding pattern could be due to concerns over Russia possibly invading the Ukraine (who believes them when they say "nyet"), concerns over lackluster earnings, the dreaded "taper", fear of rising rates and a long-in-the-tooth bull run.
Looking back over recent history, the VIX did a similar basing in the Spring/Summer of 2013 when each month, there seemed to be a "fear" the Fed would announce removing their foot from the QE gas pedal during their FOMC meeting. 18 Italian banks being downgraded just poured more fuel on that short term fire spiking it even higher. Of course, the market recovered but there seems to be much more going on behind the curtain at this point.
To quote Marvin Zonis from last weeks CBOE Risk Management Conference, "“We are in the age of major, major political risk.” Not only is taper on people's minds, but larger geo-political concerns are out there as well such as (of course) the Ukraine/Russia, China/Japan tensions, Korean Peninsula, Pakistan, Iran/Israel, nuclear weapons, Egypt/Syria/Turkey, China both politically and economic slowdown, political stagnation, etc.)
Let us also not forget that growth worldwide is lackluster. For short term investors and traders, this may not be the number one concern on their mind but for long term investors; just where growth will come from remains the big question.............and when.