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Tails, Fears and Risk Premia

  • Tim Bollerslev


    (Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham and CREATES)

  • Viktor Todorov


    (Department of Finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University)

We show that the compensation for rare events accounts for a large fraction of the equity and variance risk premia in the S&P 500 market index. The probability of rare events vary significantly over time, increasing in periods of high market volatility, but the risk premium for tail events cannot solely be explained by the level of the volatility. Our empirical investigations are essentially model-free. We estimate the expected values of the tails under the statistical probability measure from "medium" size jumps in high-frequency intraday prices and an extreme value theory approximation for the corresponding jump tail density. Our estimates for the risk-neutral expectations are based on short maturity out-of-the money options and new model-free option implied variation measures explicitly designed to separate the tail probabilities. At a general level, our results suggest that any satisfactory equilibrium based asset pricing model must be able to generate large and time-varying compensations for fears of disasters.

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Paper provided by School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus in its series CREATES Research Papers with number 2009-26.

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Length: 44
Date of creation: 11 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aah:create:2009-26
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