Volatility Information Trading And Its Implications For Information Asymmetry, Option Spreads, And Implied Volatility Skew
Information asymmetry is a critical element in today's financial markets. While asymmetric information related to directional information trading has been extensively studied in the existing literature, there is limited research and evidence on how volatility information trading impacts the options market. This dissertation studies, both theoretically and empirically, the behaviors of volatility information traders in options markets and the implications of their behaviors on information asymmetry and options pricing. I develop a model in which investors can trade multiple option contracts with varying strikes under an asymmetric framework. I show that volatility information trading is more likely to occur in Out of The Money (OTM) options if the overall presence of informed traders is low or if the relative liquidity in OTM options is better than At The Money (ATM) options. Moreover, I show that due to the variation in implicit leverage embedded in the option contracts, the OTM option contract contains a higher volatility information risk than the ATM option contract in equilibrium. In addition, I show that this volatility information risk differential plays a central role in forming the spread structure within an option series with the same underlying asset. Finally, I show that the shape of implied volatility skew (smile) is jointly determined by volatility uncertainty and heterogeneous information risk across the option contracts. I empirically examine the implications of my theory using US equity options data, including two intra-day trade and quote datasets from the Chicago Board Option Exchange (CBOE). I estimate the Volume-Synchronized Probability of Informed Trading (VPIN) variable to measure the volatility information risk in the option market. I show that OTM contracts, on average, have a higher probability of information trading than ATM contracts. I also document that volatility risk explains a considerable proportion of the spread variations in the US equity options market. Finally, I provide evidence that the difference in information asymmetry across strike prices not only helps to explain the dynamics of implied volatility skew but also has a significant impact on the degree to which a change in historical volatility affects the shape of the implied volatility skew.
volatility information trading; option spreads; implied volatility skew
Jarrow, Robert A.
Easley, David Alan; Huang, Ming
Ph.D. of Economics
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis