Relative pricing and risk premia in equity volatility markets
This paper provides empirical evidence that volatility markets are integrated through the time-varying term structure of variance risk premia. These risk premia predict the returns from selling volatility for different horizons, maturities, and products, including variance swaps, straddles, and VIX futures. In addition, the paper derives a closed-form relationship between the prices of variance swaps and VIX futures. While tightly linked, VIX futures exhibit deviations of varying significance from the no-arbitrage prices and bounds implied by the variance swap market. The paper examines these ...
The Low Volatility Puzzle: Are Investors Complacent?
In recent months, some analysts and policymakers have raised concerns about the unusually low level of stock market volatility. For example, in the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes ?a few participants expressed concern that subdued market volatility, coupled with a low equity premium, could lead to a buildup of risks to financial stability.? In this post, we review this concern and find the evidence on investor complacency is mixed. On one hand, we present a view suggesting that historical volatility may have been abnormally high, rather than current volatility being ...
The Low Volatility Puzzle: Is This Time Different?
As stock market volatility hovers near all-time lows, some analysts are questioning whether investors are complacent, drawing an analogy to the lead-up to the financial crisis. But, is this time different? We follow up on our previous post by investigating the persistence of low volatility periods. Historically, realized stock market volatility is persistent and mean-reverting: low volatility today predicts slightly higher, but still low, volatility one month and one year from now. Moreover, as of mid-September, the market is pricing implied volatility of 19 percent in one to two years? time. ...
Tax Reform's Impact on Bank and Corporate Cyclicality
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is expected to increase after-tax profits for most companies, primarily by lowering the top corporate statutory tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. At the same time, the TCJA provides less favorable treatment of net operating losses and limits the deductibility of net interest expense. We explain how the latter set of changes may heighten bank and corporate borrower cyclicality by making bank capital and default risk for highly levered corporations more sensitive to economic downturns.
Regulatory Changes and the Cost of Capital for Banks
In response to the financial crisis nearly a decade ago, a number of regulations were passed to improve the safety and soundness of the financial system. In this post and our related staff report, we provide a new perspective on the effect of these regulations by estimating the cost of capital for banks over the past two decades. We find that, while banks? cost of capital soared during the financial crisis, after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), banks experienced a greater decrease in their cost of capital than nonbanks and nonbank financial intermediaries (NBFI).
Since the 2007-09 financial crisis, the prices of closely related assets have shown persistent deviations?so-called basis spreads. Because such disparities create apparent profit opportunities, the question arises of why they are not arbitraged away. In a recent Staff Report, we argue that post-crisis changes to regulation and market structure have increased the costs to banks of participating in spread-narrowing trades, creating limits to arbitrage. In addition, although one might expect hedge funds to act as arbitrageurs, we find evidence that post-crisis regulation affects not only the ...
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Fed’s Response
The Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented actions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. households and businesses. These measures include cutting the Fed’s policy rate to the zero lower bound, purchasing Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to promote market functioning, and establishing several liquidity and credit facilities. In this post, we briefly review the developments motivating these actions, summarize what the Fed has done and why, and compare the Fed’s response with its response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.
The Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities
On April 9, the Federal Reserve announced that it would take additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the initiatives are the Primary Market and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities (PMCCF and SMCCF), whose intent is to provide support for large U.S. businesses that typically finance themselves by issuing debt in capital markets. Corporate bonds support the operations of companies with more than 17 million employees based in the United States and these bonds are key assets for retirees and pension ...
Merger options and risk arbitrage
Option prices embed predictive content for the outcomes of pending mergers and acquisitions. This is particularly important in merger arbitrage, where deal failure is a key risk. In this paper, I propose a dynamic asset pricing model that exploits the joint information in target stock and option prices to forecast deal outcomes. By analyzing how deal announcements affect the level and higher moments of target stock prices, the model yields better forecasts than existing methods. In addition, the model accurately predicts that merger arbitrage exhibits low volatility and a large Sharpe ratio ...
Global variance term premia and intermediary risk appetite
Sellers of variance swaps earn time-varying risk premia for their exposure to realized variance, the level of variance swap rates, and the slope of the variance swap curve. To measure risk premia, we estimate a dynamic term structure model that decomposes variance swap rates into expected variances and term premia. Empirically, we document a strong global factor structure in variance term premia across the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Japan. We further show that variance term premia are negatively correlated with the risk appetite of hedge funds, broker-dealers, and mutual funds. Our results ...