Confidence building on Euro convergence: Evidence from currency options
We study the evolution of investor confidence in 1992-1998 over the chance of individual currencies to converge to the Euro, using data on currency option prices. Convergence risk, which may reflect uncertainty over policy commitment as well as exogenous fundamentals, induces a level of implied volatility in excess of actual volatility. This volatility wedge should gradually decrease as confidence grows over time as convergence policy is maintained, and the risk of a reversal is progressively resolved. Empirically, we indeed find a positive volatility wedge which declines over time only for currencies involved in the Euro convergence process. The wedge and other convergence risk measures are correlated with both exogenous fundamentals and proxies for policy commitment uncertainty. We also find that the wedge responds to policy shocks in an asymmetric fashion, suggesting that policy risk is resolved at different rates after negative and positive shocks. Finally, we estimate a regime-switching model of convergence uncertainty, using data on interest rates, currency rates, and currency option prices. The results confirm the time-varying and asymmetric nature of convergence risk, and indicate that investors demand a risk premium for convergence risk.
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