Tails, Fears and Risk Premia
CREATES Research Paper No. 2009-26
46 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2009
Date Written: June 12, 2009
We show that the compensation for rare events accounts for a large fraction of the equity and variance risk premia in the S&P 500 market index. The probability of rare events vary significantly over time, increasing in periods of high market volatility, but the risk premium for tail events cannot solely be explained by the level of the volatility. Our empirical investigations are essentially model-free. We estimate the expected values of the tails under the statistical probability measure from "medium" size jumps in high-frequency intraday prices and an extreme value theory approximation for the corresponding jump tail density. Our estimates for the risk-neutral expectations are based on short maturity out-of-the money options and new model-free option implied variation measures explicitly designed to separate the tail probabilities. At a general level, our results suggest that any satisfactory equilibrium based asset pricing model must be able to generate large and time-varying compensations for fears of disasters.
Keywords: rare events, jumps, high-frequency data, options, fears, extreme value theory, equity risk premium, variance risk premium
JEL Classification: C13, C14, G10, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation