Volatility Smile

Definition of 'Volatility Smile'


A common graphical shape that results from plotting the strike price and implied volatility of a group of options with the same expiration date. The volatility smile is so named because it looks like a person smiling. The implied volatility is derived from the Black-Scholes model, and the volatility adjusts according to the option’s maturity and the extent to which it is in-the-money (moneyness).

Investopedia explains 'Volatility Smile'




Changes in an option’s strike price affect whether the option is in-the-money or out-of-the-money. The more an option is in-the-money or out-of-the-money, the greater its implied volatility becomes. The relationship between an option’s implied volatility and strike price can be seen in the graph below.

 

 

Volatility Smile

 

The volatility smile is used in the analysis of a number of investments. It cannot be directly observed in over-the-counter foreign exchange markets, though investors can use at-the-money volatility and risk data for specific currency pairs to create a volatility smile for a specific strike price. Equity derivatives show both price and volatility pairs, allowing the smile to be created relatively easily.

The volatility smile was first seen after the 1987 stock market crash, and was not present before. This may be the result in changes in investor behavior, such as a fear of another crash or black swan, as well as structural issues that go against Black-Scholes option pricing assumptions. 


Filed Under:

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Market Segmentation

    A marketing term referring to the aggregating of prospective buyers into groups (segments) that have common needs and will respond similarly to a marketing action. Market segmentation enables companies to target different categories of consumers who perceive the full value of certain products and services differently from one another.
  2. Effective Annual Interest Rate

    An investment's annual rate of interest when compounding occurs more often than once a year. Calculated as the following:
  3. Debit Spread

    Two options with different market prices that an investor trades on the same underlying security. The higher priced option is purchased and the lower premium option is sold - both at the same time. The higher the debit spread, the greater the initial cash outflow the investor will incur on the transaction.
  4. Odious Debt

    Money borrowed by one country from another country and then misappropriated by national rulers. A nation's debt becomes odious debt when government leaders use borrowed funds in ways that don't benefit or even oppress citizens. Some legal scholars argue that successor governments should not be held accountable for odious debt incurred by earlier regimes, but there is no consensus on how odious debt should actually be treated.
  5. Takeover

    A corporate action where an acquiring company makes a bid for an acquiree. If the target company is publicly traded, the acquiring company will make an offer for the outstanding shares.
  6. Harvest Strategy

    A strategy in which investment in a particular line of business is reduced or eliminated because the revenue brought in by additional investment would not warrant the expense. A harvest strategy is employed when a line of business is considered to be a cash cow, meaning that the brand is mature and is unlikely to grow if more investment is added.
Trading Center