Using Option Pricing Theory to Infer About Historical Equity Premiums
In this paper we make use of option pricing theory to infer about historical equity premiums. This we do by comparing the prices of an American perpetual put option computed using two different models: One is the standard model with continuous, zero expectation, Gaussian noise, the other is a very similar model, except that the zero expectation noise is of Poissonian type. Since a Poisson random variable is infinitely divisible, by the central limit theorem it is approximately normal. The interesting fact that makes this comparison worthwhile, is that the probability distribution under the risk adjusted measure turns out to depend on the equity premium in the Poisson model, while this is not so for the standard, Brownian motion version. This difference is utilized to find the intertemporal, equilibrium equity premium. We apply this technique to the US equity data of the last century, and find an indication that the risk premium on equity was about two and a half per cent if the risk free short rate was around one per cent. On the other hand, if the latter rate was about four per cent, we similarly find that this corresponds to an equity premium of around four and a half per cent. The advantage with our approach is that we only need equity data and option pricing theory, no consumption data was necessary to arrive at these conclusions. We round off the paper by investigating if the procedure also works for incomplete models.
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