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Pricing Currency Options in Tranquil Markets: Modelling Volatility Frowns


  • G.C. Lim
  • G.M. Martin


  • V.L. Martin


Volatility smiles arise in currency option markets when empirical exchange rate returns distributions exhibit leptokurtosis. This feature of empirical distributions is symptomatic of turbulent periods when exchange rate movements are in excess of movements based on the assumption of normality. In contrast, during periods of tranquility, movements in exchange rates are relatively small, resulting in unconditional empirical returns distributions with thinner tails than the normal distribution. Pricing currency options during tranquil periods on the assumption of normal returns yields implied volatility frowns, with over-pricing at both deep-in and deep-out-of-the-money contracts and under-pricing for at-the-money contracts. This paper shows how a parametric class of thin-tailed distributions based on the generalized Student t family of distributions can price currency options during periods of tranquility.

Suggested Citation

  • G.C. Lim & G.M. Martin & V.L. Martin, 2002. "Pricing Currency Options in Tranquil Markets: Modelling Volatility Frowns," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 4/02, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:msh:ebswps:2002-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yacine Aït-Sahalia & Andrew W. Lo, 1998. "Nonparametric Estimation of State-Price Densities Implicit in Financial Asset Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(2), pages 499-547, April.
    2. Chernov, Mikhail & Ghysels, Eric, 2000. "A study towards a unified approach to the joint estimation of objective and risk neutral measures for the purpose of options valuation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 407-458, June.
    3. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
    4. Clement, E. & Gourieroux, C. & Monfort, A., 2000. "Econometric specification of the risk neutral valuation model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 117-143.
    5. Ait-Sahalia, Yacine, 1996. "Nonparametric Pricing of Interest Rate Derivative Securities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 527-560, May.
    6. Bates, David S, 1996. "Jumps and Stochastic Volatility: Exchange Rate Processes Implicit in Deutsche Mark Options," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 9(1), pages 69-107.
    7. Bates, David S., 2000. "Post-'87 crash fears in the S&P 500 futures option market," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 181-238.
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    More about this item


    Option pricing; volatility frowns; thin-tails; generalized Student t.;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing

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