Risk-Neutral and Physical Estimation of Equity Market Volatility

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The overall purpose of the PhD project is to develop a framework for making optimal decisions on the equity derivatives markets. Making optimal decisions refers e.g. to how to optimally hedge an options portfolio or how to make optimal investments on the equity derivatives markets. The framework for making optimal decisions will be based on stochastic programming (SP) models, which means that it is necessary to generate high-quality scenarios of market prices at some future date as input to the models. This leads to a situation where the traditional methods, described in the literature, for modeling market prices do not provide scenarios of sufficiently high quality as input to the SP model. Thus, the main focus of this thesis is to develop methods that improve the estimation of option implied surfaces from a cross-section of observed option prices compared to the traditional methods described in the literature. The estimation is complicated by the fact that observed option prices contain a lot of noise and possibly also arbitrage. This means that in order to be able to estimate option implied surfaces which are free of arbitrage and of high quality, the noise in the input data has to be adequately handled by the estimation method.The first two papers of this thesis develop a non-parametric optimization based framework for the estimation of high-quality arbitrage-free option implied surfaces. The first paper covers the estimation of the risk-neutral density (RND) surface and the second paper the local volatility surface. Both methods provide smooth and realistic surfaces for market data. Estimation of the RND is a convex optimization problem, but the result is sensitive to the parameter choice. When the local volatility is estimated the parameter choice is much easier but the optimization problem is non-convex, even though the algorithm does not seem to get stuck in local optima. The SP models used to make optimal decisions on the equity derivatives markets also need generated scenarios for the underlying stock prices or index levels as input. The third paper of this thesis deals with the estimation and evaluation of existing equity market models. The third paper gives preliminary results which show that, out of the compared models, a GARCH(1,1) model with Poisson jumps provides a better fit compared to more complex models with stochastic volatility for the Swedish OMXS30 index.

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