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Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns

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  • Jens Carsten Jackwerth

    (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

A relationship exists between aggregate risk-neutral and subjective probability distributions and risk aversion functions. Using a variation of the method developed by Jackwerth and Rubinstein (1996), we estimate risk-neutral probabilities reliably from option prices. Subjective probabilities are estimated from realized returns. This paper then introduces a technique to empirically derive risk aversion functions implied by option prices and realized returns simultaneously. These risk aversion functions dramatically change shapes around the 1987 crash: Precrash, they are positive and decreasing in wealth and thus consistent with standard economic theory. Postcrash, they are partially negative and increasing and irreconcilable with the theory. Overpricing of out-of-the-money puts is the most likely cause. A simulated trading strategy exploiting this overpricing shows excess returns even after accounting for the possibility of further crashes and transaction costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Carsten Jackwerth, 1998. "Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns," Finance 9803002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpfi:9803002
    Note: Revision, October 1997; postscript
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    5. Jackwerth, Jens Carsten & Rubinstein, Mark, 1996. " Recovering Probability Distributions from Option Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(5), pages 1611-1632, December.
    6. Mark Rubinstein, 1976. "The Valuation of Uncertain Income Streams and the Pricing of Options," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(2), pages 407-425, Autumn.
    7. Jens Carsten Jackwerth., 1996. "Implied Binomial Trees: Generalizations and Empirical Tests," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-262, University of California at Berkeley.
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    12. Merton, Robert C., 1980. "On estimating the expected return on the market : An exploratory investigation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 323-361, December.
    13. Joshua V. Rosenberg & Robert F. Engle, 1997. "Option Hedging Using Empirical Pricing Kernels," NBER Working Papers 6222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    • G - Financial Economics

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