W-Shaped Implied Volatility Curves and the Gaussian Mixture Model
34 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2021 Last revised: 5 Jan 2022
Date Written: October 27, 2021
The number of crossings of the implied volatility function with a fixed level is bounded above by the number of crossings of the risk-neutral density with the density of a log-normal distribution with the same mean as the forward price. It is bounded below by the number of convex payoffs priced equally by the two densities. We discuss the implications of these bounds for the implied volatility in the $N$-component Gaussian mixture model, with particular attention to the possibility of W-shaped smiles. We show that the implied volatility in this model crosses any level at most $2(N-1)$ times. We give monotonicity properties of the implied volatility under stochastic orderings of the location parameters and volatilities of the mixture components. For some of these results we make use of a novel convexity property of the Black-Scholes price at one strike with respect to the price at another strike. In particular, for a mixture of log-normals with the same mean as the forward price, we prove that the implied volatility is always U-shaped and bounded above and below by the volatilities of the mixture components. The combined constraints from density crossings and extreme strike asymptotics restrict the allowed shapes of the implied volatility. As an application we discuss a symmetric $N=3$ Gaussian mixture model which generates three possible smile shapes: U-shaped, W-shaped and an oscillatory shape with two minima and two maxima.
Keywords: Convexity, Risk-neutral density, Option pricing
JEL Classification: C02, C63, G13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation