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Jel Classification:G13 

Report
Simple and reliable way to compute option-based risk-neutral distributions

This paper describes a method for computing risk-neutral density functions based on the option-implied volatility smile. Its aim is to reduce complexity and provide cookbook-style guidance through the estimation process. The technique is robust and avoids violations of option no-arbitrage restrictions that can lead to negative probabilities and other implausible results. I give examples for equities, foreign exchange, and long-term interest rates.
Staff Reports , Paper 677

Report
Understanding mortgage spreads

Most mortgages in the U.S. are securitized in agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Yield spreads on these securities are thus a key determinant of homeowners? funding costs. We study variation in MBS spreads over time and across securities, and document a cross-sectional smile pattern in MBS spreads with respect to the securities? coupon rates. We propose non-interest-rate prepayment risk as a candidate driver of MBS spread variation and present a new pricing model that uses ?stripped? MBS prices to identify the contribution of this prepayment risk to the spread. The pricing model finds ...
Staff Reports , Paper 674

Report
Term structures of asset prices and returns

We explore the term structures of claims to a variety of cash flows: U.S. government bonds (claims to dollars), foreign government bonds (claims to foreign currency), inflation-adjusted bonds (claims to the price index), and equity (claims to future equity indexes or dividends). Average term structures reflect the dynamics of the dollar pricing kernel, of cash flow growth, and of their interaction. We use simple models to illustrate how relationships between the two components can deliver term structures with a wide range of levels and shapes.
Staff Reports , Paper 774

Report
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 ...
Staff Reports , Paper 789

Report
Risk-neutral systemic risk indicators

This paper describes a set of indicators of systemic risk computed from current market prices of equity and equity index options. It displays results from a prototype version, computed daily from January 2006 to January 2013. The indicators represent a systemic risk event as the realization of an extreme loss on a portfolio of large-intermediary equities. The technique for computing them combines risk-neutral return distributions with implied return correlations drawn from option prices, tying together the single-firm return distributions via a copula to simulate the joint distribution and ...
Staff Reports , Paper 607

Report
Broker-dealer risk appetite and commodity returns

This paper shows that the risk-bearing capacity of U.S. securities brokers and dealers is a strong determinant of risk premia in commodity derivatives markets. Commodity derivatives are the principal instrument used by producers and purchasers of commodities to hedge against commodity price risk. Broker-dealers play an important role in this hedging process because commodity derivatives are traded primarily over the counter. I capture the limits of arbitrage in this market in a simple asset pricing model where producers and purchasers of commodities share risk with broker-dealers who are ...
Staff Reports , Paper 406

Working Paper
Do Minimum Wage Increases Benefit Intended Households? Evidence from the Performance of Residential Leases

Prior studies debating the e?ects of changes to the minimum wage concentrate on impacts on household income and spending or employment. We extend this debate by examining the impact of changes to the minimum wage on expenses associated with shelter, a previously unexplored area. Increases in state minimum wages signi?cantly reduce the incidence of renters defaulting on their lease contracts by 1.29 percentage points over three months, relative to similar renters who did not experience an increase in the minimum wage. This represents 25.7% fewer defaults post treatment in treated states. To ...
Working Papers , Paper 19-28

Working Paper
Estimating Loss Given Default from CDS under Weak Identification

This paper combines a term structure model of credit default swaps (CDS) with weak-identification robust methods to jointly estimate the probability of default and the loss given default of the underlying firm. The model is not globally identified because it forgoes parametric time series restrictions that have aided identification in previous studies, but that are also difficult to verify in the data. The empirical results show that informative (small) confidence sets for loss given default are estimated for half of the firm-months in the sample, and most of these are much lower than and do ...
Supervisory Research and Analysis Working Papers , Paper RPA 17-1

Working Paper
Firm-Specific Risk-Neutral Distributions : The Role of CDS Spreads

We propose a method to extract individual firms' risk-neutral return distributions by combining options and credit default swaps (CDS). Options provide information about the central part of the distribution, and CDS anchor the left tail. Jointly, options and CDS span the intermediate part of the distribution, which is driven by moderate-sized jump risk. We study the returns on a trading strategy that buys (sells) stocks exposed to positive (negative) moderate-sized jump risk unspanned by options or CDS individually. Controlling for many known factors, this strategy earns a 0.5% premium per ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1212

Working Paper
Generating Options-Implied Probability Densities to Understand Oil Market Events

We investigate the informational content of options-implied probability density functions (PDFs) for the future price of oil. Using a semiparametric variant of the methodology in Breeden and Litzenberger (1978), we investigate the fit and smoothness of distributions derived from alternative PDF estimation methods, and develop a set of robust summary statistics. Using PDFs estimated around episodes of high geopolitical tensions, oil supply disruptions, and macroeconomic data releases, we explore the extent to which oil price movements are expected or unexpected, and whether agents believe ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1122

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