Does variance risk have two prices? Evidence from the equity and option markets

BIS Working Papers No 521
October 2015

We formally compare two versions of the market Variance Risk Premium (VRP) measured in the equity and option markets. Both VRPs follow common patterns and respond similarly to changes in volatility and economic conditions. However, we reject the null hypothesis that they are identical and find that their difference is strongly related to measures of the financial standing of intermediaries. These results shed new light on the information content of the VRP, suggest the presence of market frictions between the two markets, and are consistent with the key role played by intermediaries in setting option prices.

JEL classification: G12, G13, C58

Keywords: variance risk premium, option, equity, financial intermediaries