R.J. McGee, F. McGroarty: The Risk Premium That Never Was: A Fair Value Explanation of the Volatility Spread

October 1, 2017

We present a new framework to investigate the profitability of trading the volatility spread, the upward bias on implied volatility as an estimator of future realized volatility. The scheme incorporates the first four option-implied moments in a growth-optimal payoff that is statically replicated using a portfolio of options. Removing the upward bias on implied volatility worsens the likelihood score of risk-neutral densities obtained from S&P 500 index options when they are used as forecasts of the underlying index return distribution.