November 10, 2006
We document widespread violations of stochastic dominance by one-month S&P 500 index call options market over 1986-2006. These violations imply that a trader can improve her expected utility by engaging in a zero-net-cost trade. We allow the market to be incomplete and also imperfect by introducing transaction costs and bid-ask spreads. Even though pre-crash option prices conform to the Black-Scholes-Merton model reasonably well, they are incorrectly priced if the distribution of the index return is estimated from time-series data even with a variety of statistical adjustments.