Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A Subjective and Probabilistic Approach to Derivatives


Author Info

  • Ulrich Kirchner
Registered author(s):


    We propose a probabilistic framework for pricing derivatives, which acknowledges that information and beliefs are subjective. Market prices can be translated into implied probabilities. In particular, futures imply returns for these implied probability distributions. We argue that volatility is not risk, but uncertainty. Non-normal distributions combine the risk in the left tail with the opportunities in the right tail -- unifying the "risk premium" with the possible loss. Risk and reward must be part of the same picture and expected returns must include possible losses due to risks. We reinterpret the Black-Scholes pricing formulas as prices for maximum-entropy probability distributions, illuminating their importance from a new angle. Using these ideas we show how derivatives can be priced under "uncertain uncertainty" and how this creates a skew for the implied volatilities. We argue that the current standard approach based on stochastic modelling and risk-neutral pricing fails to account for subjectivity in markets and mistreats uncertainty as risk. Furthermore, it is founded on a questionable argument -- that uncertainty is eliminated at all cost.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    File Function: Latest version
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by in its series Papers with number 1001.1616.

    as in new window
    Date of creation: Jan 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1001.1616

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Related research


    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Ulrich Kirchner, 2009. "Market Implied Probability Distributions and Bayesian Skew Estimation," Papers 0911.0805,
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Ulrich Kirchner, 2010. "Managing Derivative Exposure," Papers 1004.1053,


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1001.1616. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (arXiv administrators).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.