Risk Reversal

DEFINITION of 'Risk Reversal'

1. In commodities trading, it is a hedge strategy that consists of selling a call and buying a put option. This strategy protects against unfavorable, downward price movements but limits the profits that can be made from favorable upward price movements.

2. In foreign-exchange trading, risk reversal is the difference in volatility (delta) between similar call and put options, which conveys market information used to make trading decisions.

BREAKING DOWN 'Risk Reversal'

1. For example, say Producer ABC purchased an $11 June put option and sold a $13.50 June call option at even money (put and call premiums are equal). Under this scenario, the producer is protected against any price moves in June below $11 but the benefit of upward price movements reaches the maximum limit at $13.50.

2. Risk reversal refers to the manner in which similar out-of-the-money call and put options, usually FX options, are quoted by dealers. Instead of quoting these options' prices, dealers quote their volatility. The greater the demand for an options contract, the greater its volatility and its price. A positive risk reversal means the volatility of calls is greater than the volatility of similar puts, which implies that more market participants are betting on a rise in the currency than on a drop, and vice versa if the risk reversal is negative. Thus, risk reversals can be used to gauge positions in the FX market and can convey information to make trading decisions.

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