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Interpreting the volatility smile: an examination of the information content of option prices

  • Steven A. Weinberg
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    This paper evaluates how useful the information contained in options prices is for predicting future price movements of the underlying assets. We develop an improved semiparametric methodology for estimating risk-neutral probability density functions (PDFs), which allows for skewness and intertemporal variation in higher moments. We use this technique to estimate a daily time series of risk-neutral PDFs spanning the late 1980's through 1999, for S&P 500 futures, U.S. dollar/Japanese yen futures and U.S. dollar/deutsche mark futures, using options on these futures. For the foreign exchange futures, we find little discernable additional information contained in the estimated PDFs beyond the information derived from the Black-Scholes model, a fully parametric specification. For S&P 500 futures, we find that the risk-neutral distribution implied by the volatility smile better fits the realized returns than the Black-Scholes model, although this better overall fit is not exhibited in the second and third moments.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 706.

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    Date of creation: 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:706
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    16. Jose M. Campa & P.H. Kevin Chang & Robert L. Reider, 1997. "Implied Exchange Rate Distributions: Evidence from OTC Option Markets," NBER Working Papers 6179, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Nakamura, Hisashi & Shiratsuka, Shigenori, 1999. "Extracting Market Expectations from Option Prices: Case Studies in Japanese Option Markets," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 17(1), pages 1-43, May.
    18. JosÈ B. Campa & P.H. Kevin Chang & Robert L. Reider, 1997. "ERM bandwidths for EMU and after: evidence from foreign exchange options," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(24), pages 53-89, 04.
    19. Dilip B. Madan & Frank Milne, 1992. "Contingent Claims Valued and Hedged by Pricing and Investment in a Basis," Working Papers 868, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
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