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An examination of the continuous-time dynamics of international volatility indices amid the recent market turmoil


  • Li, Minqiang


Volatility indices have been designed for many markets as gauges to measure investors' fear of market crash. The recent market turmoil has produced historically high volatility levels. We take a look at the behavior of the VIX and VSTOXX indices by including the recent market turmoil into the data. We estimate various continuous-time models with focus on the structure of the drift and diffusion functions. Two methodologies are utilized: the maximum likelihood estimation, and Aït-Sahalia's parametric specification test. While the results from the parametric specification test advocate strongly for specifying more flexible drift and diffusion functions, nonlinear drift structure often only adds negligible benefit in terms of the likelihood function value. Simulation is carried out to study the finite sample bias and jump omission bias. Our results call for caution against finite sample bias when adopting a particular model or fixing a particular parameter vector.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Minqiang, 2013. "An examination of the continuous-time dynamics of international volatility indices amid the recent market turmoil," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 128-139.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:22:y:2013:i:c:p:128-139 DOI: 10.1016/j.jempfin.2013.04.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ait-Sahalia, Yacine, 1996. "Testing Continuous-Time Models of the Spot Interest Rate," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 9(2), pages 385-426.
    2. Hideyuki Takamizawa, 2008. "Is Nonlinear Drift Implied by the Short End of the Term Structure?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 311-346, January.
    3. Windcliff, H. & Forsyth, P.A. & Vetzal, K.R., 2006. "Pricing methods and hedging strategies for volatility derivatives," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 409-431, February.
    4. Yacine Aït-Sahalia, 1999. "Transition Densities for Interest Rate and Other Nonlinear Diffusions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1361-1395, August.
    5. John C. Cox & Jonathan E. Ingersoll Jr. & Stephen A. Ross, 2005. "A Theory Of The Term Structure Of Interest Rates," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 5, pages 129-164 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. David A. Chapman & Neil D. Pearson, 2000. "Is the Short Rate Drift Actually Nonlinear?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(1), pages 355-388, February.
    7. Li, Minqiang, 2010. "A damped diffusion framework for financial modeling and closed-form maximum likelihood estimation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 132-157, February.
    8. Dotsis, George & Psychoyios, Dimitris & Skiadopoulos, George, 2007. "An empirical comparison of continuous-time models of implied volatility indices," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 3584-3603, December.
    9. Brenner, Menachem & Ou, Ernest Y. & Zhang, Jin E., 2006. "Hedging volatility risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 811-821, March.
    10. Bakshi, Gurdip & Ju, Nengjiu & Ou-Yang, Hui, 2006. "Estimation of continuous-time models with an application to equity volatility dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 227-249, October.
    11. Grunbichler, Andreas & Longstaff, Francis A., 1996. "Valuing futures and options on volatility," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 985-1001, July.
    12. Li, Minqiang & Pearson, Neil D. & Poteshman, Allen M., 2004. "Conditional estimation of diffusion processes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 31-66, October.
    13. Christopher S. Jones, 2003. "Nonlinear Mean Reversion in the Short-Term Interest Rate," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 793-843, July.
    14. Yacine Ait-Sahalia, 2002. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Discretely Sampled Diffusions: A Closed-form Approximation Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 223-262, January.
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    More about this item


    Volatility indices; Continuous-time dynamics; Maximum likelihood estimation; Parametric specification test;

    JEL classification:

    • C60 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - General
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing


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