E. Lazarus: Horizon-Dependent Risk Pricing: Evidence from Short-Dated Options

September 28, 2018

I present evidence from index options that the price of risk over the value of the S&P 500 increases as the investment horizon becomes shorter. I show first how these risk prices may be estimated from the data, by translating the risk-neutral probabilities implied by options prices into physical probabilities that must provide unbiased forecasts of the terminal outcome. The risk price can be interpreted as the marginal investor’s effective risk aversion, and estimating this value over different option-expiration horizons for the S&P, I find that risk aversion is reliably higher for near-term outcomes than for longer-term outcomes: the market’s relative risk aversion over terminal index values decreases from around 15 at a one-week horizon to around 3 at a 12-week horizon.