What's Vol Got to Do With It
63 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008 Last revised: 14 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 1, 2009
Uncertainty plays a key role in economics, finance, and decision sciences. Financial markets, in particular derivative markets, provide fertile ground for understanding how perceptions of economic uncertainty and cashflow risk manifest themselves in asset prices. We demonstrate that the variance premium, defined as the difference between the squared VIX index and expected realized variance, captures attitudes toward uncertainty. We show conditions under which the variance premium displays significant time variation and return predictability. A calibrated, generalized Long-Run Risks model generates a variance premium with time variation and return predictability that is consistent with the data, while simultaneously matching the levels and volatilities of the market return and risk free rate. Our evidence indicates an important role for transient non-Gaussian shocks to fundamentals that affect agents' views of economic uncertainty and prices.
Keywords: Return Predictability, Variance Premium, Long Run Risks, Stochastic Volatility, Jump Risks
JEL Classification: G12, D84, E37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation