Aug 25, 2016

CME Adding ES Wednesday Weeklys

It was only a matter of time, and is no surprise to anyone. Link Given half-year delay I predict CME Monday weeklys Q1 2017.

Aug 19, 2016

In Case You Missed It - SPX Monday Weeklys

Somehow I missed the press-release or other news sources, but earlier this week CBOE listed Monday-expiring weekly options. Right now 3 expirations are listed: Monday August 22nd, 29th, and Tuesday September 6th.

Volume, open interest, and bid-ask spreads look reasonable for just-launched series, and I believe this product is already a success.

Now, with 3 regular expirations per week, it is only a question of time when CBOE will have options expiring every day of the week. The challenge is not in the product itself, but rather in technological barriers - market making software, increased network traffic, etc. I expect that we will not see another weekly expiration for another year.

I would also speculate that perhaps the next launch will be in the VIX series, maybe Friday PM settled VIX options?

Aug 13, 2016

Regulators Getting It Right: Belgium Bans Binary Options, Leveraged CFDs

Top Belgian securities regulator, the Financial Services and Markets Authority announced in a recent communique, that distribution of binary options, leveraged CFDs, and ultra-short (<1 hour) derivatives contracts. Apparently there is some question regarding the exact translation (link), and since I don't know french or dutch I cannot comment on that.

Everyone in the industry knows that binary options is a festering pool of fraud, and responsible for much of spam marketing on the internet. I applaud actions of FSMA, and hope that more regulators around the word will follow suit.

Jul 11, 2016

PUT vs WPUT Analysis

Earlier this year Oleg Bondarenko, professor at U of Illinois published an excellent empirical analysis of CBOE's PUT index and more recent WPUT (same as PUT but using weekly options). I will review some of the points in the paper comparing theoretical values with the ones that were empirically observed.

Here is a summary, and complete research paper.

Professor Bondarenko notes:
Selling 1-month ATM puts 12 times a year can produce significant income. From 2006 to 2015, the average monthly premium is 2.01%.
From 2006 to 2015, the average weekly premium is 0.75%.
Although smaller, the premium is collected more frequently. Intuitively, the premium of the ATM put increases as the square root of maturity. This means that a one-week tenor option rolled over four times per month will approximately generate 2.0x the premium of a one-month tenor option rolled over once per month (i.e., 1/2 premium times 4). 
Premium by itself, of course, does not guarantee profit. Let's take a look at some basic formulas (assuming ABM,  zero rates, and unit price for simplicity. All formulas were generated using Mathematica )

So, as stated, assuming 4 weeks per month, we would expect theoretically to collect 2x more premium. Since in reality we are collecting about 1.5x more premium, it means that weekly premiums are smaller than expected, which is pretty much what we would expect as vol term structure is in contango most of the time.

Similarly, expected vol arb (implied vs realized) PL suffers from contango.

In theory, for the same implied vol value we would expect 2x more profit for WPUT, while in practice WPUT has slightly underperformed PUT.
This implies an interesting relationship (not a statistical or theoretical, just merely an observation) if we simply re-arrange the terms, that value of weekly implied volatility is in between monthly implied volatility and realized volatility.

As an approximation I took VXST index (available since 2011), VIX, and SPX returns. Because of the period mismatch, the results are not exact - average value of VXST is 17.14, between  average of VIX of 17.47, and realized volatility of 15.54.

Now, let's consider another aspect of put selling - what is the risk? We can derive expected volatility of put selling strategy:

Just like in the formulas above, the expression is "per trade". That means that individual weekly trade will have half the volatility of monthly trade, but since there are 4 of them, and vol scales with the square root of # of trades, the expected volatility of PUT and WPUT should be the same. In reality, WPUT has somewhat smaller standard deviation (2.84% vs 3.32% ). Since expected volatility of put selling strategy only (theoretically) depends on realized volatility, the difference is quite surprising.

Finally we can derive a formula for sharpe ratio for selling ATM options, it is

We can see that sharpe ratio does not depend on frequency of put sales, but rather proportional to the percent difference in implied vs realized volatility. As expected, SR for WPUT is lower than that of the PUT.