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An Economic Motivation for Variance Contracts

Nicole Branger

University of Muenster - Finance Center Muenster

Christian Schlag

Goethe University Frankfurt

March 15, 2005

AFA 2006 Boston Meetings Paper

Variance contracts permit the trading of 'variance risk', i.e. the risk that the (squared) volatility of stock returns changes randomly over time. We discuss why investors might want to trade this type of risk, and why they might prefer a variance contract to standard calls and puts for this purpose.

Our main argument is that the variance contract is superior to a dynamic replication strategy due to discrete trading, parameter risk, and model risk. To show this we analyze the local hedging errors for the variance contract under different scenarios, namely under pure estimation risk (or parameter risk) in a stochastic volatility and in a jump-diffusion model, under model risk when the wrong type of risk factor is assumed to be present (stochastic volatility instead of jumps or vice versa), and under model risk when risk factors are omitted (e.g. when the true model contains jumps which are not present in the model assumed by the investor). The results confirm that the variance contract is exposed to model risk to an economically significant degree, and that it is much harder to hedge than, e.g., deep OTM puts. We thus conclude that the improvement provided by the introduction of a variance contract is greater than the one offered by the introduction of additional standard options.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: Variance Risk, Stochastic Volatility, Jump-Diffusion, Model Risk, Parameter Risk, Hedging Error

JEL Classification: G12, G13

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Date posted: March 18, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Branger, Nicole and Schlag, Christian, An Economic Motivation for Variance Contracts (March 15, 2005). AFA 2006 Boston Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=686867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.686867

Contact Information

Nicole Branger (Contact Author)
University of Muenster - Finance Center Muenster ( email )
Universitatsstr. 14-16
Muenster, 48143
+49 251 83 22033 (Phone)
+49 251 83 22690 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.wiwi.uni-muenster.de/fcm/derivatives/organisation/details.php?weobjectID=162
Christian Schlag
Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
+49 69 798 33699 (Phone)
+49 69 798 33901 (Fax)
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References:  16
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