At the New York Fed, our mission is to make the U.S. economy stronger and the financial system more stable for all segments of society. We do this by executing monetary policy, providing financial services, supervising banks and conducting research and providing expertise on issues that impact the nation and communities we serve.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
Investors can buy volatility hedges on the stock market using variance swaps or VIX futures. One motivation for hedging volatility is its negative relationship with the stock market. When volatility increases, stock returns tend to decline contemporaneously, a result known as the leverage effect. In this post, we measure the cost of volatility hedging by decomposing the prices of variance swaps and VIX futures into volatility forecasts and estimates of expected returns (“equity volatility term premia”) from January 1996 to June 2020.
Can option traders take a square root? Surprisingly, maybe not. This post shows that VIX futures prices exhibit significant deviations from their option-implied upper bounds—the square root of variance swap forward rates—thus violating the law of one price, a fundamental concept in economics and finance. The deviations widen during periods of market stress and predict the returns of VIX futures. Just as the stock market struggles with multiplication, the equity volatility market appears unable to take a square root at times.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
Liberty Street Economics does not publish new posts during the blackout periods surrounding Federal Open Market Committee meetings.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
Economic Research Tracker
Liberty Street Economics is now available on the iPhone® and iPad® and can be customized by economic research topic or economist.
We encourage your comments and queries on our posts and will publish them (below the post) subject to the following guidelines:
Please be brief: Comments are limited to 1500 characters.
Please be quick: Comments submitted after COB on Friday will not be published until Monday morning.
Please be aware: Comments submitted shortly before or during the FOMC blackout may not be published until after the blackout.
Please be on-topic and patient: Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been reviewed to ensure that they are substantive and clearly related to the topic of the post. We reserve the right not to post any comment, and will not post comments that are abusive, harassing, obscene, or commercial in nature. No notice will be given regarding whether a submission will or will not be posted.
The LSE editors ask authors submitting a post to the blog to confirm that they have no conflicts of interest as defined by the American Economic Association in its Disclosure Policy. If an author has sources of financial support or other interests that could be perceived as influencing the research presented in the post, we disclose that fact in a statement prepared by the author and appended to the author information at the end of the post. If the author has no such interests to disclose, no statement is provided. Note, however, that we do indicate in all cases if a data vendor or other party has a right to review a post.