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Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns

  • Jens Carsten Jackwerth

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

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.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Finance with number 9803002.

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Date of creation: 13 Mar 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpfi:9803002
Note: Revision, October 1997; postscript
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  1. Banz, Rolf W & Miller, Merton H, 1978. "Prices for State-contingent Claims: Some Estimates and Applications," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 653-72, October.
  2. Melick, William R. & Thomas, Charles P., 1997. "Recovering an Asset's Implied PDF from Option Prices: An Application to Crude Oil during the Gulf Crisis," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 91-115, March.
  3. Hayne E. Leland., 1996. "Beyond Mean-Variance: Performance Measurement of Portfolios Using Options or Dynamic Strategies," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-263-rev, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Jackwerth, Jens Carsten & Rubinstein, Mark, 1996. " Recovering Probability Distributions from Option Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(5), pages 1611-32, December.
  5. Leland, Hayne E, 1980. " Who Should Buy Portfolio Insurance?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(2), pages 581-94, May.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Rubinstein, Mark E, 1973. "A Comparative Statics Analysis of Risk Premiums," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(4), pages 605-15, October.
  9. Yacine Aït-Sahalia & Andrew W. Lo, . "Nonparametric Estimation of State-Price Densities Implicit in Financial Asset Prices," CRSP working papers 332, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  10. Constantinides, George M, 1982. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers and without Demand Aggregation," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 253-67, April.
  11. Jens Carsten Jackwerth., 1996. "Implied Binomial Trees: Generalizations and Empirical Tests," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-262, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Joshua V. Rosenberg & Robert F. Engle, 1997. "Option Hedging Using Empirical Pricing Kernels," NBER Working Papers 6222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Brennan, M.J. & Solanki, R., 1981. "Optimal Portfolio Insurance," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(03), pages 279-300, September.
  14. Ross, Stephen A, 1976. "Options and Efficiency," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 75-89, February.
  15. Breeden, Douglas T & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1978. "Prices of State-contingent Claims Implicit in Option Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 621-51, October.
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