Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Finance

First Advisor

Amir Yaron

Abstract

In the first chapter ``Gold, Platinum, and Expected Stock Returns'', I show that the ratio of gold to platinum prices (GP) reveals variation in risk and proxies for an important economic state variable. GP predicts future stock returns in the time-series and explains variation in average stock returns in the cross-section. GP outperforms existing predictors and similar patterns are found in international markets. GP is persistent and significantly correlated with option-implied tail risk measures. An equilibrium model featuring recursive preferences, time-varying tail risk, and shocks to preferences for gold and platinum can account for the asset pricing dynamics of equity, gold, and platinum markets, and quantitatively explain the return predictability. In the second chapter ``Risk Adjustment and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty: Evidence from Options Markets'', we examine risk-neutral probabilities, which are observable from option prices and combine objective probabilities and risk adjustments across economic states. We consider a recursive-utility framework to separately identify objective probabilities and risk adjustments using only observed market prices. We find that a preference for early resolution of uncertainty is important in explaining the cross-section of risk-neutral and objective probabilities in the data. Failure to incorporate a preference for the timing of the resolution of uncertainty (e.g., expected utility models) can significantly overstate the implied probability of, and understate risk compensations for, adverse economic states. In the third chapter ``Volatility-of-Volatility Risk'', we show that time-varying volatility of volatility is a significant risk factor which affects the cross-section and time-series of index and VIX option returns, beyond volatility risk itself. Volatility and volatility-of-volatility movements are identified from index and VIX option prices, and correspond to the VIX and VVIX indices in the data. Delta-hedged returns for index and VIX options are negative on average, and more negative for strategies more exposed to volatility and volatility-of-volatility risks. In the time-series, volatility and volatility of volatility significantly predict delta-hedged returns with a negative sign. The evidence is consistent with a no-arbitrage model featuring time-varying volatility and volatility-of-volatility factors which are negatively priced by investors.

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