Theses Doctoral

Asset Pricing Implications of the Volatility Term Structure

Xie, Chen

This dissertation aims to investigate the asset pricing implications of the stock option's implied volatility term structure. We mainly focus on two directions: the volatility term structure of the market and the volatility term structure of individual stocks.
The market volatility term structure, which is calculated from prices of index options with different expirations, reflects the market's expectation of future volatility of different horizons. So the market volatility term structure incorporates information that is not captured by the market volatility itself. In particular, the slope of the volatility term structure captures the expected volatility trend. In the first part of the thesis, we investigate whether the market volatility term structure slope is a priced source of risk or not. We find that stocks with high sensitivities to the proxies of the VIX term structure slope exhibit high returns on average. We further estimate the premium for bearing the VIX slope risk to be approximately 2.5% annually and statistically significant. The effect cannot be explained by other common risk factors, such as the market excess return, size, book-to-market, momentum, liquidity and market volatility. We extensively investigate the robustness of our empirical results and find that the effect of the VIX term structure risk is robust. Within the context of ICAPM, the positive price of VIX term structure risk indicates that it is a state variable which positively affects the future investment opportunity set.
In the second part of the thesis, we provide a stylized model that explains our empirical results. We build a regime-switching rare disaster model that allows disasters to have short and long durations. Our model indicates that a downward sloping VIX term structure corresponds to a potential long disaster and an upward sloping VIX term structure corresponds to a potential short disaster. It further implies that stocks with high sensitivities to the VIX slope have high loadings on the disaster duration risk, thus earn higher risk premium. These implications are consistent with our empirical results.
In the last part, we study the relationship between individual stock's volatility term structure and the stock's future return. We use a measure of stock's implied volatility term structure slope, defined as the difference between 3-month and 1-month implied volatility from at-the-money options, to demonstrate that option prices contain important information for the underlying equities. We show that option volatility term structure slopes are significant in explaining future equity returns in the cross-section. And we further find evidence that the implied volatility term structure is a measure of event risk: firms with the most negative volatility term structure are those for which the market anticipates news that may affect stock price within one month. Relevant events include, but are not limited to, earnings announcements.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Glasserman, Paul
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 20, 2016