Title: Relative prices of options, forward contracts, and futures contracts
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Title: Relative prices of options, forward contracts, and futures contracts theory and evidence |c by Gautam Dhingra
Physical Description: viii, 85 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Dhingra, Gautam, 1961-
Publication Date: 1986
Copyright Date: 1986
 Subjects
Subject: Options (Finance)   ( lcsh )
Foward exchange   ( lcsh )
Financial futures   ( lcsh )
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
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Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1986.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 83-84.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000893019
notis - AEK1530
oclc - 015279744

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RELATIVE PRICES OF OPTIONS, FORWARD CONTRACTS,
AND FUTURES CONTRACTS: THEORY AND EVIDENCE










BY


GAUTAM DHINGRA


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY




UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1986


















To my parents














ACNOWLEDGEMENTS


I thank the members of my dissertation committee, Robert

Radcliffe (chairman), Stephen Cosslett, Roger Huang, and

M.P.Narayanan, for their guidance and for helpful comments on

earlier drafts of this study. Thanks are also due to Young

Hoon Byun who generously gave his valuable time to discuss

various issues pertaining to this dissertation.














TABLE OF CONTENTS


PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . ... .. .iii

LIST OF SYMBOLS . . . . . . . . . .. . vi

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .. . . . vii

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . 1

Objective of the Study . . . . . . . 2
Tasks of the Study . . . . . . . . 2


II FORWARD CONTRACTS AND FUTURES CONTRACTS . . . 6

Introduction . . . . . . . . . 6
Previous Research . . . . . . . . 7
A New Approach to Comparing Forward Prices
and Futures Prices . . . . . ... .12
Selection of an Appropriate Asset . . . .. .16
Data . . . . . . . . .. . . . 17
Empirical Results . . . . . . . ... .20
Direction and Magnitude of the Difference
between Forward and Futures Prices .... .20
Test of Settlement Price Effect . . . .. .22
Test of Daily Resettlement Effect . . .. .27
Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities in the
Futures Market . . . . . . ... .31
Transactions Costs and Quasi-Arbitrage . . .. .35
Time Trend in Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities . . 40
Conclusion . . . . . . . ... . . 42


III OPTIONS AND FORWARD CONTRACTS--THE ISSUE OF
EARLY EXERCISE . . . . . . ... .43

Forward Contracts and The European
Options Portfolio . . . . . ... .43
Forward Contracts and The American
Options Portfolio ............. 45
Early Exercise of American Options . . . .. .46
Previous Research . . . . . . .. .46
Data . . . . . . . . . . . 49









Empirical Results . . . . . . . 51
Summary statistics . . . . . . 52
Test of dividend effect . . . . .. 55
Choice between closing-out in secondary
market and exercising--Role of
transactions costs . . . . ... .57
Test of other early exercise propositions . 61
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . 64


IV FUTURES CONTRACT AND THE AMERICAN
OPTIONS PORTFOLIO . . . . ... .. .65

Introduction . . . . . . . . ... .65
Data . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Empirical Results . . . . . . . ... .67
Direction and Magnitude of the Difference
between Futures Prices and Inferred
Forward Prices . . . . . . ... 67
Test of Non-Synchronicity Effect . . . . 69
Time Trend in the Difference Between Futures
Prices and Forward Prices . . . . .. .71
Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities in the
Options Market . . . . . . ... 73
Transaction Costs and Quasi-Arbitrage ...... .76
Conclusion . . . . . . . .... . 79

V SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . . . . . .. .80

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . ... . . 83

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . .. 85









LIST OF SYMBOLS

t = Initiation date of the forward, futures and option

contracts

s = Maturity date of the forward, futures and option

contracts, s>t

B(T) a Price, at time T, of a default-free discount bond

which pays one dollar at s, t
S(T) a Price at time T of the asset on which the contracts

are written

f(T) a Futures price at time T

g(T) E Forward price at time T

g (T) e Forward price inferred from option prices at time T

c(T) E Value of a European call option at time T

C(T) a Value of an American call option at time T

p(T) a Value of a European put option at time T

P(T) e Value of an American put option at time T

k(T) a Difference between the value of a European call and

a European put option, i.e., k(T)=c(T)-p(T)

K(T) a Difference between the value of an American call and

an American put option, i.e., K(T)=C(T)-P(T)

E a Exercise price of calls and puts

D(T) E Future value of all dividends to be paid from T to s

X(T) a Difference between futures prices and forward

prices, i.t X(T)af(T)-g(T)

Z(T) = Difference between futures prices and inferred

forward prices, i.e, Z(T):f(T)-g (T)














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



RELATIVE PRICES OF OPTIONS, FORWARD CONTRACTS,
AND FUTURES CONTRACTS: THEORY AND EVIDENCE


By


Gautam Dhingra


August 1986


Chairman: Robert C. Radcliffe
Major Department: Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate


Options, forward contracts and futures contracts are

traded independently in the market. However, there are some

common linkages among them. Some of these linkages are

analyzed in this dissertation.

First, equilibrium forward prices are compared to observed

futures prices to determine the impact of daily resettlement

feature of futures contracts. Using the data on Major Market

Index futures, significant differences between futures prices

and forward prices are observed during 1985. The differences

are too Ilp-je to be explained by daily resettlement. In fact,

the differences are large enough to allow for the existence

of "quasi-arbitrage" opportunities between spot and futures

markets. However, such opportunities seem to have declined









over time, presumably as a result of the actions of the

arbitrageurs.

Second, a specific portfolio of options is compared to a

forward contract. It has been shown that if the options are

European, this portfolio is equivalent to a forward contract.

It is argued in this study that this portfolio closely

approximates a forward contract even when the options are

American. The argument is even stronger for the case of index

options. These options are used to infer forward prices which

are then compared with observed futures prices. It is found

that the difference between futures prices and inferred

forward prices is substantially smaller than the difference

between futures prices and equilibrium forward prices. This

implies that during 1985, quasi-arbitrage opportunities in

options and futures markets, if they existed at all, were

less abundant than similar opportunities in spot and futures

markets. Partial evidence regarding the existence of

quasi-arbitrage opporunties within the options market is

also uncovered.

As a by-product of the main analysis, a number of

propositions regarding early exercise of American options are

analyzed. It is found that dividends do not influence early

exercises of index options in the manner suggested by theory

for individual stock options.


viii














CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

Financial markets have experienced a proliferation of

securities in recent years. This propagation process is

nowhere more evident than in the options and futures markets

where a multitude of novel contracts have been introduced

since the mid-1970s. Some of these contracts have gained

widespread acceptance in the short span of time that they

have been in existence. This is evident from the following

table which provides an overview of the trading activity in

some of the most popular financial futures and options.

Table 1
Number of Contracts Traded on June 2, 1986


Underlying Options Futures
Instrument Volume Volume


1. NYSE Composite Index 7514 15400
2. Treasury Bonds 586 310718
3. Major Market Index 77591 7648
4. S&P 500 Index 6300 99929
5. S&P 100 Index 338823 NC
6. Value Line Index 9091 5316
7. Swiss Franc 14592 24516
8. W.German Mark 6924 26978


NC: no contracts available
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, June 3, and June 4, 1986)

Forward contracts do not find a place in this table

because of lack of reported data about their trading

activity. Nevertheless, they are an important part of the

discussion that follows.









In recent years it has been common to find a number of

assets on which all three types of contracts--options,

futures and forwards--are traded simultaneously. It should

not be surprising that some strong interrelationships exist

among them stemming directly from the fact that they have the

same underlying asset. Some of these interrelationships are

anlayzed in this dissertation.


Objective of the Study

The objective of this study is twofold:

(1) To consolidate our knowledge regarding the inter-

relationships among the following three types of

contracts

(a) Options

(b) Forward Contracts

(c) Futures Contracts

(2) To empirically test the interrelationships among these

contracts.


Tasks of the Study

The following tasks are undertaken in order to achieve the

objectives listed above.

The first issue addressed is the relationship between

forward contracts and futures contracts. The major economic

difference between the two contracts is that futures

contracts are settled daily (i.e., are marked-to-market),

whereas forward contracts are settled only at maturity.

Several researchers have shown that when interest rates are









non-stochastic, forward prices must be equal to futures

prices. However, in the presence of stochastic interest

rates, daily resettlement can cause futures prices to differ

from forward prices.

A number of researchers have empirically investigated the

effect of daily resettlement. A drawback of these studies is

that they are unable to isolate the economic cause of the

difference between futures prices and forward prices, namely,

the daily resettlement feature, from the institutional causes

such as higher liquidity and guaranteed performance of

futures contracts. Moreover, forward contracts present a

problem in testing, first, because there is a general lack of

good quality data regarding their trading activity, and

secondly, because the maturities of forward and futures

contracts are difficult to match.

The approach used in this study to solve these problems is

to compare futures prices observed in the market to the

forward prices based on a simple, yet powerful, arbitrage

model. In doing so the effect of daily resettlement can be

analyzed by abstracting from the institutional reasons that

may cause forward prices to differ from futures prices. A

second advantage of this approach is that a large data set

can be obtained so that more reliance can be placed on the

statistical results. An empirical study is carried out to

answer the following questions.


(1) Is there a difference between futures prices and forward

prices for stock index contracts?









(2) Is the difference related to marking-to-market?

(3) Is the difference a function of

(a) Time to maturity of the contracts?

(b) Procedure for establishing the settlement price of

futures contracts?

(4) Does the difference follow a systematic trend over time?

(5) Are there any arbitrage opportunities in the spot and

futures markets related to the difference between futures

prices and forward prices?


The detailed analysis and empirical results are presented

in Chapter II.

The second task of this study is to analyze the

relationship between a forward contract and a specific

portfolio of American options called "The American Options

Portfolio." It is easy to show that a portfolio of European

options, called "The European Options Portfolio" is exactly

equivalent to a forward contract on the underlying asset.

However, when extended to American options the relationship

between a similar options portfolio and a forward contract is

less definite because of the possibility that American

options may be exercised early.

To determine the importance of early exercise, it is

necessary to empirically analyze relevant data regarding

early exercises of American options. However, -.'ire have been

no studies, to my knowledge, which have undertaken this task.

I carry out an empirical study to ascertain the importance of

early exercise. This study consists of determining the









absolute magnitude of early exercises as well as testing some

theoretical conjectures regarding early exercise of American

options. The detailed analysis and relevant empirical results

are presented in Chapter III.

The third task of the dissertation has its roots in the

analysis done in Chapter III. It is argued that "The American

Options Portfolio" closely approximates a forward contract.

Therefore, the relationship between forward and futures

contracts can be extended to cover "The American Options

Portfolio" and futures contracts. This argument is used to

infer forward prices from options and compare them to

corresponding futures prices. It is expected that the results

obtained in this section will be consistent with those

reported in Chapter II. This task is described in detail in

Chapter IV.

Chapter V summarizes and concludes the discussion by

bringing together all the results that bind together options,

forward contracts and futures contracts.














CHAPTER II
FORWARD CONTRACTS AND FUTURES CONTRACTS


Introduction

Forward contracts and futures contracts are quite similar

in the sense that both involve buying or selling an asset at

a future date for a fixed nominal price determined at the

time the contract is written. However, there are some

important economic and institutional differences between the

two contracts. The economic difference is that futures

contracts are settled daily whereas forward contracts are

settled only at maturity. The institutional differences vary

from contract to contract but, in general, forward contracts

are less standardized, have poor secondary markets, and are

not guaranteed by the exchange.


Forward Contract

A forward contract is an agreement to buy (or sell) the

underlying asset at time s at a price called the forward

price, g(t), determined at time t. The investment required at

time t is zero and there are no payoffs from the contract

until the maturity date s.


Futures Contract

A futures contract is an agreement to buy (or sell) the

underlying asset at time s, at a futures price f(t) fixed at

time t. Like a forward contract, the investment required for









a futures contract at time t is zero.1 However, unlike a

forward contract, the futures contract is marked-to-market at

the end of every day. The holder of a long position (the

buyer) can withdraw profits at the end of the day, and, in

case of a loss, must pay the difference to the seller. Since

the profits from a futures contract are realized as they are

earned, at maturity the price paid by the buyer to the seller

is the spot price prevailing at that time.

By definition both forward price and futures price at

maturity equal the spot price, i.e., g(s)=f(s)=S(s).


Previous Research

The relationship between forward and futures contracts has

been studied extensively. Black (1976) was one of the first

researchers to distinguish between the two contracts by

explicitly taking into account the daily resettlement feature




1The margin required for forward and futures contracts
is not considered an investment since the investor is assumed
to be able to borrow at the riskfree rate. He can buy
treasury securities with borrowed funds and deposit them as
margin. As a result, the net cost of establishing a position
is zero. Moreover, the treatment of margin is different for
futures contract as compared to other assets. This fact is
explained by Dusak (1973) as follows.

Unlike other capital assets such as common stocks where
the margin is transferred from buyer to seller, the margin
on a futures contract is kept in escrow by the broker. Not
only does the seller not receive tir capital transfer from
the buyer but he actually has to .cposit an equivalent
amount of his own funds in the broker's escrow account.
. The margin . is . merely a good faith deposit
to guarantee performance by the parties to the contract.
(page 1391)









of futures contracts. Since then, other researchers have also

focused their attention on this distinction and derived some

important analytical results. Margrabe (1978) and Jarrow and

Oldfield (1981) have derived a common result that if interest

rates are non-stochastic, forward prices should be equal to

futures prices. The intuition behind this result is quite

simple, as explained below.

As a result of daily resettlement of futures contracts,

the investor benefiting from the futures price movement on

any given day receives the cash proceeds from the investor

holding the opposite position and has the opportunity to

invest those proceeds at the prevailing interest rate. The

investor holding the opposite position must come up with the

requisite cash, presumably by borrowing at the prevailing

interest rate. For both investors the future interest rate is

an important variable in determining the net benefit due to

daily resettlement. Therefore, if there is no uncertainty

regarding interest rate that will prevail at each point of

time until maturity (i.e., if interest rates are non-

stochastic), forward prices must be equal to futures prices.

(See Jarrow and Oldfield (1981) for a lucid proof of this

proposition).

Cox, Ingersoll and Ross (CIR) (1981) further investigate

the effect of stochastic interest rates on the magnitude of

the difference between forward prices and futures prices. CIR

derive an arbitrage proof to show that the difference between

the two prices depends upon the relationship between futures








prices and short-term interest rates. If the two variables

have positive covariance, then forward prices must be lower

than futures prices. The opposite is true if futures prices

and short-term interest rates have negative covariance. The

magnitude of the difference depends on the magnitude of the

covariance between futures price and short-term interest

rates and the time to maturity of the contracts.

The intution behind the CIR result is explained well by

Klemkosky and Lasser (1985) as follows.


when the futures price falls, if there is a negative
correlation between the futures price and short-term
interest rates, the buyer of the contract must borrow for
payment to the seller at a higher interest rate than
existed when the contract was issued. When the futures
price rises, the buyer will be able to invest the
resettlement, but at a lower rate. The seller, on the
other hand, will be able to invest when rates rise and
must borrow when rates fall. (page 610)


CIR (1981) show that if forward prices and futures prices

do not behave in this fashion, an arbitrage profit can be

obtained by undertaking the following strategy: Buy a forward

contract, sell B(j) futures contracts in each period j,

liquidate them in the next period and invest the (possibly

negative) proceeds into riskfree bonds. This arbitrage





Strictly speaking, it is the local covariance between
percentage changes in futures prices and percentage changes
in bond prices that should be either always negative or
always positive for this proposition to be meaningful (Cox,
Ingersoll, and Ross (1981), page 326). See French (1983) for
a discussion of this assumption for empircial testing (page
330, footnote 21).









process prescribes the following relationship between futures

prices and forward prices (CIR, Proposition 6, page 326).


s-1
f(t)-g(t) = PVt E [f(j+l)-f(j)][B(j)/B(j+l)-l]/B(t) (1)
j=t

where PV is the present value operator.


In a continuous-time framework this equation reduces to

the following equation.
s
g(t)-f(t) = PVt[jf(u)cov(f'(u),B'(u))dul/B(t) (2)
t

where cov(f'(u),B'(u)) is defined as the local

covariance of the percentage change in the

futures price, f'(u), and the percentage

change in bond price, B'(u).


This result implies that if the local covariance between

futures prices and bond prices is positive for every time

from t to s, forward prices will be greater than futures

prices. Conversely, for negative covariance futures prices

will be greater than forward prices. Note that this equation

does allow for the possibility that forward prices and

futures prices may be equal even when interest rates are

stochastic. This is possible if the local covariance between

bond prices and futures prices is zero for each period until

maturity.

A number of studies have empirically investigated the

difference between futures prices and forward prices. Some of









them have tested whether the observed differences are in line

with the prediction of the CIR model.

Cornell and Reinganum (1981) find that there is no

significant difference between forward prices and futures

prices on foreign currencies. Since they find that the

covariance between short-term interest rates and currency

futures prices is negligible, their findings are consistent

with the CIR model. Cornell and Reinganum also find that

T-bills show greater difference between forward prices and

futures prices even though the covariance between short-term

interest rates and T-bill futures prices is negligible. This

difference is apparently inconsistent with the CIR model.

Cornell and Reinganum suggest that the inconsistency may be

caused by factors other than marking-to-market. They offer

tax treatment of T-bills and problems associated with

shorting T-bills as primary candidates for explaining the

discrepancy.

French (1983) compares forward prices and futures prices

on two commodities--silver and copper--and finds significant

differences between them. He finds some support for the CIR

model in explaining the differences between the two prices.

Park and Chen (1985) find that there are no significant

differences between forward and futures prices on foreign

currencies, but such differences are significant for

contracts based on physical commodities. They find strong

support for the CIR model.









A New Approach to Comparina
Forward and Futures Prices


The empirical studies described above have one or both of

the following drawbacks.


(1) The data on forward contracts are not only difficult to

obtain, they are often of poor quality too. This problem

is evident in the studies by French (1983) and Park and

Chen (1985).

French compares forward and futures prices which are

observed in different countries and at different times

and are denominated in different currencies. Park and

Chen have problems in getting a large number of

observations because forward contracts and futures

contracts trade under different conventions. Forward

contracts are issued with standard maturity periods,

i.e., on every day, a one-month, a three-month, a

six-month, and other such contracts are available. On the

other hand, futures contracts are traded on the basis of

standard maturity dates. Therefore, a three-month futures

contract is available only on the day it is initiated or

when a longer maturity contract has exactly three months

left to maturity. For this reason it is difficult to

obtain enough observations for which forward contracts

and futures contracts have the same time to maturity.


(2) The second drawback of these studies is their inability

to take into account qualitative factors such as higher









liquidity, greater degree of standardization, and

guaranteed performance of futures contracts. These

studies use forward prices observed in the market,

compare them to futures prices and attribute the

difference to marking-to-market. Since forward contracts

differ from futures contracts along other qualitative

dimensions too, it is not clear how the differences

observed can be attributed solely to marking-to-market.


In order to isolate the marking-to-market effect forward

prices, that are free from these extraneous factors, are

needed. It is quite obvious that one cannot hope to observe

such "perfect" forward prices in the market. However, they

can be determined quite accurately by a simple, yet powerful,

arbitrage model.

This well-known arbitrage model of forward prices,

sometimes known as the cost-of-carry model, simply says that

the forward price of an asset must equal its spot price plus

the net costs associated with buying the asset today and

holding it until maturity of the contract. If such is not the

case then arbitrage will take place.

For a financial asset which provides no intermediate cash

flows, the cost associated with holding the asset is simply

the interest cost (the opportunity cost of money). Thus, the

forward price for such an asset is given by the following

model.









glT) (T) (3)
T (T)


where g is the forward price

S is the spot price of the asset

B is the price of a discount bond which

pays $1 at maturity, s.


If this price does not prevail, an arbitrage profit is

available. For example, if g(T)>S(T)/B(T), an investor can

buy the asset in the spot market by borrowing the money at

the riskfree rate, and short a forward contract on the same

asset. This strategy costs nothing and gives a positive

payoff of [g(T)-S(T)/B(T)J at maturity. If g(T)
then the strategy is reversed to make a riskless profit.

This model can be easily adjusted for assets that provide

intermediate cash flows (e.g., dividends on common stock).





3The assumption that investors can borrow and lend at
the riskfree rate is not inordinately restrictive. The
following quote from Cox and Rubinstein (1985) attests to
that.

The main reasons private borrowing rates exceed lending
rates are transaction costs and differences in default
risk. Transactions cost per dollar decline rapidly as the
scale increases, so they are of secondary importance in a
large operation. And if the arbitrage operation in which
we are using these funds is indeed riskless, it should be
possible to collateralize the loan so that the lender will
bear no possibility of default. (page 40)

Moreover, this assumption does not require that all investors
be able to borrow and lend at the riskfree rate. So long as
there are a few previleged investors who can do so, the
equilibrium forward prices will prevail.









Such cash inflows can be considered as negative carrying

costs and the model can be rewritten as follows.


g(T) S(T) D(T) (4)
g(T) = (T)- D(T)
B(T)

where D(T) is the known future value of all

dividends to be paid from T to s


This study proposes that in order to isolate the marking-

to-market effect, forward prices, to be used for comparison

with futures prices, be based upon the arbitarge model

described above. This will eliminate the extraneous factors

and also resolve the problem of mismatch of maturities of

forward and futures contracts.









4Most companies do not like their dividends to fluctuate
dramatically. Hence, dividends on individual companies are,
generally, quite predictable. The predictability of dividends
is substantially higher for stock indices because
fluctuations in the dividends of individual companies are
smoothed out when they are aggregated in an index. Therefore,
in my opinion, the assumption that dividends on a stock index
are known, is reasonable.
Wu (1984) does not agree with this assumption. He argues
that index futures prices are affected by uncertainty of
dividends. He reports that when this uncertainty is taken
into account the theoretical futures prices, given by the
cost-of-carry model, decrease significantly. Since this model
is used in this study to determine forward prices of stock
indices, the forward prices used in this study would be
upwardly biased according to Wu. A major result of this study
is that futures prices inordinately exceed forward prices
leading to quasi-arbitrage opportunities. This argument will
become even stronger if Wu's contention is correct.








Selection of an Appropriate Asset

To get the most reliable results from the approach

described above, one must be careful in the selection of

contracts for empirical testing. Some of the criteria for

selection are as follows.


(1) The underlying asset should be such that the cost of

buying the asset and carrying it over a period can be

determined fairly accurately. This criterion is essential

for the equilibrium forward price, given by equation (4),

to be measured accurately. On this criterion, all

non-financial assets are ruled out since it is difficult

to estimate their carrying costs precisely. For financial

assets the carrying cost can reasonably be assumed to be

the opportunity cost of money measured by the interest

rate which is easily observable.


(2) The asset selected should have sufficient liquidity in

futures trading so that a large sample can be obtained

for reliable statistical testing. A number of financial

assets satisfy this criterion as can be seen from Table

1. The most liquid futures contracts are T-Bond futures

but they are not given to easy testing of the marking-to-

market effect, primarily because of the delivery option

associated with them. Stock index futures offer a good

alternative since there is no delivery option associated

with them.









(3) The choice of a particular index futures contract is

dictated by the ease with which the index can be

duplicated in the spot market. This criterion is

essential for the arbitrage process, that determines the

equilibrium forward price, to be successful. In these

days of "program trading" it is quite easy to duplicate

even a large index such as the S&P 500, but it is even

easier to duplicate the Major Market Index (MMI) which

consists of only 20 blue-chip stocks.


On the basis of these three criteria, the Major Market

Index contracts are chosen for this study.


Data

The data for this part of the study are provided by the

Chicago Board of Trade. Included in the data are daily

observations on Major Market Index futures contracts for

different maturities. The sample period is from January 2,

1985, to December 31, 1985. Usually three or four different

maturities are available every day. The futures price used

for analysis is the settlement price established at the end

of trading every day. The closing values of the Major Market

Index are also provided by the Chicago Board of Trade. A

trtal of 945 observations are available for testing.

In order to determine the equilibrium forward price,

dividends on the stocks comprising the MMI as well as prices

of the discount bonds which mature on the same day as the

futures contracts, are required. The dividends are obtained









from Moody's Dividend Record and their dollar value is

adjusted to the index.5 The prices of the discount bonds are

proxied by the prices of T-Bills which mature one day before

the maturity of the futures contracts. The mismatch of one

day in the maturity of T-bills and the futures contract is

negligible and should not be of any consequence in

statistical testing. The T-bill prices are calculated from

the yields published daily in The Wall Street Journal.

The maturities of the futures contracts in the sample

range from one day to 186 days but maturities greater than

120 days are observed only infrequently.





bMajor Market Index (MMI) is an equally-weighted (or
price-weighted) index designed to emulate the Dow-Jones
Industrial Average. Changes in the index correspond to
changes in the sum of the prices of one share each of the
MMI's 20 stocks. The prices of 20 stocks are added and the
sum is divided by a standard divisor. Periodically, this
divisor is adjusted to reflect changes in the capitalization
of the 20 companies. During 1985, the divisor value was
changed twice--on May 20, 1985 and on December 31, 1985. The
second change is of no significance to this study since none
of the observations extend beyond the date of the change. The
first change, made to reflect a stock dividend by Eastman
Kodak, is relevant. On May 20, 1985, the value of the divisor
was changed from 4.49699 to 4.41560. The adjustment to the
dividends takes this fact into account. For example, a
dividend of 65 cents by Procter and Gamble, on January 14,
1985, is divided by 4.49699, but an identical dividend by the
same company on July 15, 1985, is divided by 4.41560.

usually, for the last two days before maturity of the
future contract, yield on a T-bill which expires one day
before the maturity of the futures contract, is not
available. In this case, the nearest T-bill, which in the
sample used in this study is always a T-bill expiring on the
thrusday after the maturity of the futures contract, is used.
The bias in bond prices caused by this approximation is
miniscule because the time to maturity is extremely small.









An interesting aspect of the data is related to the

procedure for establishing the settlement price. The concept

of settlement price is of special significance for futures

contracts and it is necessitated by the marking-to-market

feature of these contracts.7 The task of establishing the

settlement price is easy if trading in the contracts is heavy

and some trades take place near the end of the trading

session. In such a case the average price of the trades in

the last few seconds (usually 20-30 seconds) is used as the

settlement price. If, however, the trading in the contracts

is thin, the exchange establishes a settlement price which

may or may not reflect the true closing price.






A technical detail may be of interest to some readers.
The daily resettlement feature also applies to contracts
other than futures contracts, but it gets more prominence for
futures contracts. Any position in any security that requires
a margin, e.g., a short position in options, is generally
marked-to-market. An option seller must deposit additional
margin if the balance in the margin account is depleted as a
result of the losses. By the same token, he can withdraw the
excess balance in the margin account that may result because
of profits on the position.
For most conventional options traded on the Chicago Board
Options Exchange (CBOE), margin requirements are a function
of the price of the underlying asset with an adjustment for
the fact tht the option may be in- or out-of-the-money. For
some recently introduced options (e.g., option on S&P 500
futures, traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange), margin
is a function of the option price itself. For such options,
the exchange establishes a settlement price for the option.
A hidden reason behind establishment of settlement price
is to encourage "spread trading." If there is merit in this
argument it is conceivable that CBOE may attempt to change
its margin rules and start establishing settlement price even
for conventional options.









The data used in this study explicitly distinguish between

observations for which there is sufficient activity in the

contracts at the end of the day, from those observations for

which not enough trades take place at the close of the day.

One of the sub-tasks of the study is to find out if there is

a difference between observations for which the settlement

price reflects the true closing price and those for which the

settlement price is established, somewhat artificially, by

the exchange. The empirical results based on these data are

presented in the next section.


Empirical Results

Direction and Magnitude of the Difference
between Futures and Forward Prices

The first task is to examine the extent of the difference

between futures prices and forward prices. Since equation (2)

implies that the difference, if it exists, is likely to be

related to the time to maturity of the contracts, the sample





The data obtained from the Chicago Board of trade come
in a format that allows two closing prices to be published.
These two prices describe the closing range. However, two
prices are not available if trading at the close of the
trading session is thin. In that case, only one closing price
is published, and there is no way to determine the time at
which the trade took place. Whenever two closing prices are
published, it is reasonable to assume that the settlement
price reflects the true closing price. Such observations are
included in the first subset of observations. Whenever only
one price is available, it is indeterminate whether the
settlement price would also have been the closing price, if
some trades had taken place near the end of the trading
session. Such observations are included in the second subset
of observations.









is divided into five categories on the basis of this

criterion. The variable X is defined to denote the difference

between futures prices and forward prices, i.e., X=f-g. Some

relevant statistics for X are presented in Table 2.


Table 2
Difference between Futures Prices
and Forward Prices (in Cents)


Days to 0-14 15-29 30-59 60-89 >90 Total
Maturity


Number of
observations 128 126 253 219 219 945


X 12.1 20.5 47.1 81.0 160.1 72.9

** ** ** ** ** **
t-statistic 3.45 4.19 10.5 15.4 24.9 24.6

**
significant at 1% level



It is evident from this table that there is a significant

difference between futures prices and forward prices. Futures

prices are found to be in excess of forward prices by 73

cents on the average. The difference is highly significant as

can be judged from the t-statstic of 24.64. As expected, the

difference increases with an increase in time to maturity of

the contracts. The average difference for contracts with less

than 15 days to maturity is 12 cents but for contracts with

more than 90 days to maturity, it is as high as 160 cents.









Test of Settlement Price Effect

Having observed significant difference between futures

prices and forward prices, the next step is to check whether

the difference is real, or due to the fact that some of the

settlement prices used in testing may not reflect true

closing prices. To carry out this test, the total sample is

divided into two subsets.

The first set contains 405 observations for which there

are at least two trades in the closing seconds and,

therefore, it is almost certain that the settlement price is

also the true closing price. This set of observations is

loosely designated as the "Set of Liquid Contracts." The

second set contains 540 observations for which there are

either no trades or only one trade near the end of the

trading session and, therefore, the settlement price set by

the exchange may not reflect the true closing price. This set

of observations is loosely designated as the "Set of Illiquid

Contracts." The results obtained from the analysis are

presented in Table 3.









Table 3
Difference between Futures Prices
and Forward Prices (in cents)


Days to Maturity


0-14


15-29






30-59






60-89






>90






Total


Liquid Contracts Illiquid Contracts


106
15.9
**
4.39
t =2.25


100
27.7
**
5.09

t
117
63.2
**
8.87

t
53

101.7
**
9.52

t
29

192.9
**
22.19
t
405
56.4
14.33
14.33


3 **
= 3.17


S.35
- 3.35


= 2.23






= 2.34






= 5.03


significant 5% level
significant at 1% leave
significant at 1% level


22
-6.2

-0.69


26
7.0
**
0.74


136
33.4
**
6.21


166
74.4
**
12.46


190
155.2
**
22.19


540
85.3
20.40
20.40








Two types of t-statistics are presented in Table 3. First,

there is one t-statistic each for liquid contracts and

illiquid contracts corresponding to the null hypothesis that

the mean value of X is zero for each of the two sets of

observations. Second, there is a joint t-statistic which

corresponds to the null hypothesis that the mean values of X

for liquid contracts and illiquid contracts are equal.

At first glance there seems to be a sharp difference

between the two sets of observations. The difference between

futures prices and forward prices is consistently higher for

liquid contracts as compared to illiquid contracts. Care

should be taken in interpreting the average difference for

the total sample reported in the last row. Even though

illiquid contracts seem to have a higher mean difference,

just the opposite is true. The deceptive result in the last

row is a result of a sampling bias as illiquid contracts are

usually the contracts with long maturities, for which it is

natural to observe a greater difference between the two

prices.

The preceding results are somewhat puzzling at first. It

seems that the settlement price set by the exchange is

usually a downward biased estimate of the true closing price.

The term "settlement price effect" is used to refer to this

apparently systematic discrepancy between liquid cotnracts

and illiquid contracts. It seems odd that such a systematic

difference should exist between futures prices set by the

exchange and those observed in a liquid market. After a




25



thorough analysis, a partial explanation of this phenomenon

is uncovered. The apparent "settlement price effect" is

partly due to the period to which the observations belong. It

so happens that there were more illiquid contracts during the

latter part of 1985. During the same period, the difference

between futures prices and forward prices declined

significantly. This fact is evident from the results

presented in Table 4.









Table 4
Difference between Futures Prices
and Forward Prices (in Cents)


Quarter Liquid Contracts Illiquid Contracts Total


N = 137 N = 111 N = 248
Quarter 1 X = 91.5 X = 157.4 X = 120.9
** ** **
t = 13.55 t = 17.47 t = 20.63


N = 119 N = 130 N = 249
Quarter 2 X = 64.6 X = 130.5 X = 99.0
** X* **
t = 9.47 t = 18.97 t = 18.78


N = 85 N = 165 N = 250
Quarter 3 X = 39.5 X = 72.8 X = 61.5
** ** **
t = 5.47 t = 12.52 t = 13.31


N = 64 N = 134 N = 198
Quarter 4 X = -11.6 X = -3.1 X = -5.9
t = -1.84 t = -0.61 t = -1.46


N = 405 N = 540 N = 945
Total X = 56.4 X = 85.3 X = 72.9
t = 14.33 t = 20.40 t = 24.64

**
significant at 1% level




The results presented in Table 4 indicate that the

apparent "settlement price effect" implied by the results

presented in Table 3 may be illusory. The real cause of the

difference may, in fact, be the sampling feature that more

liquid contracts and fewer illiquid contracts are observed








during the time period when the differences between futures

prices and forward prices are higher.

It is possible to isolate the "settlement price effect,"

if it does exist, by eliminating the time-of-the-year effect.

However, an attempt to do so is thwarted by the small size of

the data at hand.


Test of Daily Resettlement Effect

Having observed significant differences between forward

and futures prices, the obvious question is "Are these

differences in line with our expectations?" To answer this

question, I go back to the CIR model which attmepts to

predict the difference between the two prices. The CIR

equation is reproduced below.


s-1
f(t)-g(t) = PV E [f(j+l)-f(j)][B(j)/B(j+l)-l]/B(t)
j=t

where PV is the present value operator.


The first noteworthy feature of the equation is the

present value operator in front of the parentheses. The lack

of a specific arithmetic expression for the present value

operator indicates that the model is not set in an

equilibrium pricing framework and, therefore, one does not

know the discount rate which would adjust for the risk of the

payoff given by the expression within the parentheses.

The second important feature of this equation is that it

is formulated at time t in terms of future values of









variables f (futures prices) and B (bond prices) which are

unknown ex-ante (at time t).

These two characteristics, at first, seem to render

testing of the model infeasible. However, the following

discussion shows that one can still make useful comparisons

between the predicted difference between forward and futures

prices and that actually observed in the market.

As a first pass, assume that the correct discount rate, to

be used for the payoff in question, is the riskfree rate.

Also assume, for the moment, that the realized values of the

two variables, f and B are exactly in line with ex-ante

expectations. Under these two assumptions, the predicted

value of the difference between futures and forward price is

calculated using ex-post data in equation (1). This variable

is denoted by X. Table 5 presents some relevant statistics

for X.

Table 5
Predicted Difference between Futures Prices
and Forward Prices (in Cents)


Days to 0-14 15-29 30-59 60-89 >90 Total
Maturity


Number of
observations 116 125 252 218 219 930

Mean(X) -0.03 -0.04 -0.13 -0.15 -0.42 -0.18

t-statistic -1.87 -1.84 -5.71 -4.18 -8.65 -10.80

**
significant at 1% level









A comparison of Table 2 and Table 5 reveals startling

differences between predicted values of X and those actually
9
observed in the market. Not only is the direction of the

difference between forward and futures prices exactly the

opposite of that predicted by the model, the difference in

magnitude also seems extremely large. For example, for

contracts with less than 15 days to maturity, the CIR model

predicts that forward prices should exceed futures prices by

three-hundredths of one cent. Instead, it is found that

futures prices on an average are higher than forward prices

by 12.1 cents. For contracts with more than 90 days to

maturity, futures prices exceed forward prices by 160 cents

on the average whereas the average difference predicted by

the CIR model is less than one-half of one cent.

The reader may wonder if the simplifying assumptions used

to calculate the predicted values of X may have caused the

discrepancy between observed and predicted values of X. The

following arguments will show that these two assumptions are

unlikely to explain the magnitude of the discrepancy.

First, consider the assumption that the riskfree interest

rate can be used for discounting the payoff inside the

present value operator in equation (1). we know that this




The total number of observations, 93'. reported in
Table 5, is smaller than the total number of observations,
945, reported in Table 2. This happens because in calculating
the value of predicted X using equation 2, the first
observation for every contract with a different maturity is
eliminated since it nas no lagged value.









payoff is not riskfree and, therefore, should be discounted

at a rate higher than the riskfree rate. But a higher

discount rate will have no effect on the direction of the

difference predicted by the CIR model. It would only affect

the magnitude of the predicted difference, and considering

the miniscule differences predicted by the model (e.g.,

one-half of one cent for contracts with greater than 90 days

to maturity), this effect would also pale in comparison with

the observed differences between the two prices. Hence, it

seems that the assumption of using the riskfree rate as the

discount rate has virtually no effect on the discrepancy

between observed X and predicted X.

The second assumption is somewhat more crucial. It says

that the futures prices and bond prices observed in the

market are exactly in line with the ex-ante expectations of

market participants. It is possible that this this assumption

may introduce some bias, but there is no reason to believe

that the bias will be systematic. So long as measurement

errors caused by this assumption are random, statistical

results presented in Table 5 should still be useful. More

importantly, an even stronger statement, without utilizing

this assumption, is made in the next section to show that the

CIR model does not correctly predict the difference between

futures and forward prices.








Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities
in the Futures Market

Since futures prices are found to be higher than forward

prices by an amount greater than that predicted by the CIR

model, and since the CIR model is based on a non-arbitrage

condition, it would seem that a profit opportunity exists

which can be exploited by taking opposite positions in spot

market and futures market. However, the problem with this

strategy is that it is not riskfree because futures prices

and bond prices in future are unknown. An investor shorting a

futures contract can lose on the futures position if futures

prices go up, and this loss can be accentuated if interest

rates also go up. At the same time, there will likely be a

profit on the long spot position since spot prices usually

move in tandem with futures prices. But the uncertainty

regarding the future values of futures prices, spot prices,

and bond prices implies that it is impossible to design a

"perfect" (riskless) arbitrage strategy. Nevertheless, it is

shown in this study that the market does offer opportunities

to design trading strategies which require zero investment

and still yield positive payoffs even under some of the most

pessimistic scenarios. In order to distinguish such

opportunities from "perfect" arbitrage opportunities, I use

the term "quasi-arbitrage" opportunities. A "quasi-arbitrage"

opportunity is one which requiFr.s zero investment but yields

a positive payoff even under some of the most pessimistic

scenarios.









Given the empirical result that futures prices seem

excessively higher than forward prices, the correct strategy

for the arbitrageur is to short a futures contract, buy the

20 stocks underlying the MMI using borrowed money and close

out the position at maturity. Table 6 describes the payoff

from this strategy.


Table 6
Payoff from the Quasi-Arbitrage Strategy


Time t t+l . s


Short one
futures 0 f(t)-f(t+l) . f(s-l)-f(s)

Buy Spot
Asset -S(t) 0 .. S(s)+D


Borrow S(t) f(t+l)-f(t) S(tl s2[E fj+l)-f()
B(t) B(j+l)



s-l f(j l)-f(j)
0 0 . g(s)-g(t)- Z B(j+l)
j=t



This strategy requires zero investment in every period

until maturity. The loss on the futures position to the
s-l
investor is E [(f(j+l)-f(j))/B(j+1)] and the profit on the
j=t
spot position is given by g(s)-g(T). The strategy is

profitable if

s-1
g(s)-g(T) > E [(f(j+l)-f(j))/B(j+l)] (5)
j=t









Before testing inequality (5) in order to examine the

possible existence of quasi-arbitrage opportunities, the

definition of a pessimistic scenario is needed. Instead of

one, three different definitions based on varying degrees of

pessimism are provided and the existence of quasi-arbitrage

opportunities is examined under all three definitions. Since

the arbitrageur shorts a futures contract, he stands to lose

if futures prices go up and also if interest rates go up.1

With this in mind the following three definitions of a


pessimistic scenario are given.

(1) Futures prices and interest

rate such that in 180 days they

levels.

(2) Futures prices and interest

rate such that in 180 days they

levels.

(3) Futures prices and interest

rate such that in 180 days they

levels.

Inequality (5) is tested for


rates go up every day at a

are 1.5 times their current



rates go up every day at a

are twice their current



rates go up every day at a

are 2.5 times their current



all three definitions using


daily data on Major Market Index futures. Out of a total of





It can be easily shown that the other possibility
where futures prices instead go down in every period is an
obviously profitable one. To see this simply modify Table 6
for this new scenario. It would be seen that the strategy
yields a non-negative payoff in each period, and the cash
outflow at maturity is less than the sum of the cash inflows
during intermediate periods.









945 observations a substantial proportion satisfy this

inequality indicating that they could have been exploited by

using the strategy outlined in Table 6. The number of such

quasi-arbitrage opportunities and their average profit is

given in Table 7.


Table 7
Number of Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities in
Spot and Futures Markets for MMI during 1985


Definition 1 Definition 2 Definition 3


Number of
Opportunities 430 301 249

Average Profit
Per Index 11
Unit (Cents) 55.22 49.34 45.56



This analysis shows that there are opportunities for

profit which are technically not riskfree but yield a profit

even under some severely pessimistic scenerios. The next step

is to check if these opportunities are profitable after

transactions costs are taken into account.








11The face value of a 1985 MMI futures contract is
calculated by multiplying the quoted price by 100. Thus, each
contract consists of 100 index units. The profit given in
Table 7 is cents per index unit. To get profit per contract
shorted, these figures should be multiplied by 100.
Incidentally, a similar contract with 250 index units (called
maxii') has become popular recently and the volume in the 100
unit contract has declined sharply.









Transactions Costs and Quasi-Arbitrage

The first thing to note in this regard is that any

arbitrage opportunities in the market are likely to be

exploited by market professionals. These traders obviously

have extremely low transaction costs since they pay no

brokerage fee for trading on their own account. The major

costs paid by them are mostly fixed in nature, e.g., the cost

of obtaining a seat on the exchange. It is assumed here that

these fixed cost are allocated to brokerage business for

customers. The only relevant costs, then, are the marginal

(or variable) costs of undertaking the arbitrage operation.

I know of only one truly variable cost for traders trading

on their own account--the cost of clearing the trade through

the clearing facility. For the type of arbitrage operation

described above, clearing charges will have to be incurred in

both futures and spot markets.

The clearing charge per MMI futures contract is 10 cents

per side. This implies that per index unit, the cost is

one-tenth of one cent. For spot assets, the 20 stocks that

make up the MMI, clearing charges are levied by the National

Securities Clearing Corporation. Two types of relevant costs

are Trade Comparison Fees and Trade Clearance Fees.

Trade Comparison Fees represents the fees to enter trade

data. Currently, for each side of each stock trade submitted,

the fees is 3.3 cents per 100 shares, with a minimum fee of

6.6 cents and a maximum fee of $1.65.









Trade Clearance Fees represents fees for netting, issuance

of instructions to receive or deliver and effecting book-

entry deliveries. Currently, there are seven types of

clearing fees out of which only the following two are

applicable to a simple trade.


1. Receipts from CNS (Continuous Net Settlement) to satisfy a

long valued position--45 cents per issue received.

2. Deliveries to CNS in the night processing cycle to cover a

short valued position--45 cents per delivery.


Either one of these two types of fees is paid by a

brokerage firm one time every day for each stock that it

bought or sold during the day, whether for its customers or

for its own account. For an arbitrage operation of the kind

described in the previous section, the marginal Trade

Clearance Fees is zero if the firm trades these stocks for

its customers. Since MMI consists of 20 blue-chip stocks it

is quite likely that there will a large number of customer

trades in these stocks. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that

Trade Clearance Fees of the kind mentioned above is zero.

Nevertheless, the following calculations are made on the

conservative assumption that customers do not trade in the

stocks on the day that the arbitradeurs wants to undertake

the arbitrage operation, and therefore, trade clearance fees

is allocated to the arbitrage operation.

Assuming a hypothetical arbitrage operation of $1 million

face value, some estimates are made for transactions costs.









It is worth mentioning that most arbitrage operations used in

practice are of much bigger size, thus reducing the per unit

cost even more.

July 1, 1985, is arbitrarily chosen as the day for which

transactions costs are calculated. The average price of a

share for 20 MMI companies on that day is $57.29375. These

stocks are to be bought in equal proportion so that the total

price is approximately $1 million. The number of shares thus

calculated (rounded to nearest 100 to reduce transactions

costs), is 900 per stock. The total investment is $1.03

million. The transactions costs are calculated as follows.


Trade Comparison Fees = (3.3 cents x 900/100) x 20

= $5.94

Trade Clearance Fees = (45 cents x 20)

= $9.00

Total Fees = $14.94


One-side fees of $14.94 is simply multiplied by 2 to get

the two-way transactions costs of $29.88. To find out

transactions costs per index unit, note that a face value of

$1,031,287.50 implies 3940.12 index units (base on spot index

value of 261.74 at the close of July 1, 1985). Thus,

transactions costs per index unit are 2988/3940.12 = 0.76

cents. The round-trip clearing cost for the futures contract

is 0.2 cents per index unit, thus giving the total round-trip

transactions costs of 0.96 cents per index unit for the whole

arbitrage operation.








Comparing these transactions costs with the discrepancy

between observed and predicted differences, given in Table 7,

it is easy to see that even after taking transactions costs

into account, substantial pre-tax profit can still be made.

As regards taxes, there is no need to distinguish between

ordinary gains and capital gains for professional traders.

The only effect of taxes, then, is that they reduce, but do

not eliminate, the profit from quasi-arbitrage.

It is worth noting that the strategy outlined in Table 6

involves buying the underlying stocks which is easier than

shorting the stocks. Therefore, none of the objections

concerning shorting of stocks apply to this strategy.

Out of curiosity, I decide to check whether the transaction

costs for ordinary individuals are large enough to eliminate

their participation in quasi-arbitrage activities. To get

some idea of transactions costs for such individuals,

commission schedules for stocks and futures contracts are

obtained from two discount brokers.12

For the futures contract, a quote of $27 per contract, per

side for minimum volume and minimum frequency, is obtained.

For larger volume and frequent trades, the cost declines to

$12 per contract, per side. For a $1 million face value

arbitrage program, the lower rate is applicable.




1The commission schedules used in this study are not
claimed to be representative of the market. Moreover,
commission rates do vary frequently. Therefore, any results
presented in this study should be interpreted accordingly.









Unfortunately, the quoted commission on futures contracts

is for the newer and more popular MMI contract (called

"Maxi") which contains 250 index units. The 1985 Major Market

Index contracts consisted of only 100 units. The transactions

costs for the old contracts are almost certainly lower than

those specified above. By using these higher transactions

costs, this study is being more conservative in its approach

to finding quasi-arbitrage opportunities.

The commission schedule on stocks is used to calculate the

transaction costs for buying 900 shares of each of the 20

stocks. For all stocks, except A T & T, the commission is

5112 plus 0.10 percent of the dollar amount. For A T & T, the

commission is $61 plus 0.31 percent of the dollar amount. The

total one-way commission thus calculated is $1250.12. The

number of index units was calculated earlier to be 3940.12.

Hence, per index unit cost for stocks is 31.73 cents per

side. Adding to this the per side cost of 12 cents on the

futures contract, the total one-way cost is 43.73 cents. The

round-trip cost, therefore, is about 87 cents.

Comparing this cost with the average differences mentioned

in Table 7, it can be seen that it is much more difficult for

ordinary individuals to undertake the quasi-arbitrage

operation. It is true that there will be some observations

for which the discrepancy will be more than the transactions

cost of 87 cents. But the profitability of such opportunities

is, at best, substantially reduced and at worst, almost

completely eliminated.









Time Trend in Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities

Given that quasi-arbitrage opportunities existed in the

market it seems reasonable to expect that they must have been

utilized by discerning investors. It is also likely that

actions of such investors would cause these opportunities to

disappear over time. Since the quasi-arbitrage opportunities

exist because of futures prices being inordinately higher

than forward prices, the conjecture is that the difference

between the two prices declined over time. To test this

conjecture the sample is divided into four quarterly subsets.

Table 8 presents the results of the test carried out to test

this conjecture.









Table 8
Difference between futures prices
and forward prices (in cents)


Quarter Qtr.l Qtr.2 Qtr.3 Qtr.4 Total
Days to Mat.


N
0-14 X
t


N
15-29 X
t


N
30-59 X
t


N
60-89 X
t


N
>90 IX
t


N
Total X
t


33
26.9
**
4.48


30
62.7
**
6.55


64
105.7
**
13.46


54
120.8
**
9.82


67
208.2
**
22.19


248
120.9
20.63


29
16.2
2.35


32
23.0
**
2.79


64
61.1
**
9.41


61
118.4
**
20.40


63
195.5
**
23.33


249
99.0
**
18.78


33
10.1
1.63


32
3.7
0.42


65
39.9
**
6.32


62
60.3
**
8.81


58
148.1
17.90
17.90


33
-4.3
-0.55


32
-4.6
-0.56


60
-22.3
**
-3.28


42
6.0
0.63


31
7.1
0.57


250 198
61.5 -5.9
13.21 -1.46


128
12.1
X*
3.45


126
20.5
**
4.19


253
47.1
**
10.5


219
81.0
**
15.40


219
160.1
**
24.98


945
72.9
**
24.64


significant at 5 % level
Esrnificant at 1 % level


The results presented in Table 8 lend support to the

conjecture that quasi-arbitrage opportunities in MMI








contracts disappeared over time. This is reflected in the

narrowing difference between futures and forward prices. The

decline from the third to the fourth quarter is dramatic. One

possible explanation for this behavior is that "program

trading," which became extremely popular during 1985, caused

arbitrage opportunities to decline sharply over time. The

following quote from a recent news article by Zaslow (1986)

supports this hypothesis.


Arbitrage is one technique often employed by inter-
market traders, who frequently swap baskets of large-
capitalization stocks for offsetting stock-index futures
to take advantage of price discrepencies. . .
Diminishing opportunities in the four-year old S&P 500
futures contract are driving some arbitragers to seek new
trading frontiers. . With stock prices at their
current lofty levels, professional traders find the MMI a
cheaper vehicle for arbitrage (emphasis added). "To
replicate the S&P index by buying underlying securities
you need 40 to 50 stocks" . "You could replicate the
entire MMI, all 20 stocks, and still get away cheaper."


Conclusion

Significant differences are found between futures and

forward prices for MMI contracts during 1985. The differences

are significantly higher than those predicted by the CIR

model. This discrepancy between observed and predicted

differences implies that quasi-arbitrage opportunities

existed in MMI spot and futures markets during 1985. The

empirical analysis confirms the existence of such

quasi-arbitrage opportui-ties. However, it is also found that

these opportunities have since disappeared, presumably

because of the actions of the arbitrageurs.













CHAPTER III
OPTIONS AND FORWARD CONTRACTS--THE ISSUE
OF EARLY EXERCISE

It has been shown by researchers (for example, Moriarty,

Phillips, and Tosini (1981) and Cox and Rubinstein (1985))

that a specific portfolio of European options can be created

such that its payoff is identical to the payoff from a

forward contract on the underlying asset. However, the same

is not quite true if instead the portfolio consists of

American options because American options may be exercised

before expiration. In this chapter the issue of early

exercise and its effect on the relationship between "The

American Options Portfolio" and a forward contract are

discussed. The empirical analysis is done using daily data

regarding actual exercises of MMI options. As a by-product of

the main analysis, some well-known theoretical conjectures

regarding early exercises of options are also tested.


Forward Contracts and
The European Options Portfolio

At time t, "The European Options Portfolio"3 is created

by taking a long position in a European call option and a




3Moriarty, Phillips, and Tc-ini (MPT), 1981, first
described this portfolio as being equivalent to a futures
contract under certain restrictive assumptions. Cox and
Rubinstein (1985) realizing the nature of one of the
restrictions imposed by MPT, correctly describe the portfolio
as being equivalent to a forward contract.









short position in a European put option with the same

maturity and identical exercise price. To finance this

portfolio the investor borrows k(t) so that the investment

required at time t is zero (recall that k(t)sc(t)-p(t)). The

assumption here is that investors can borrow and lend at the

riskfree rate.

The payoff from this portfolio, if held until maturity, is

given in Table 9.

Table 9
Payoff from The European Options Portfolio


Initial Cash Flow at Expiration
Cash Flow S(s)>E S(s)=E S(s)

Buy a call -c(t) S(s)-E 0 0

Sell a put +p(t) U 0 S(s)-E

Borw k) -k(t) -k(t) -k(t)
Borrow k(t) Bt Bt-- Bt
B(t) B(t) B(t)


0 S(s)-E- k(t) -k(t) S(s)-E- k(t)
B(t) B(t) B(t)



Intuitively, it is easy to see why this portfolio is like

a forward contract on the underlying asset. If it is held

until maturity, the holder of the portfolio ends up buying

the underlying asset either by exercising the call option, if

(S(s)-E)'C, or by being forced to buy by the put holder, if

(S(s)-E)<0. In either case, he owns the underlying asset by

paying the exercise price E and repaying the loan whose value

at time s is k(t)/B(t). Thus, "The European Options









Portfolio" is like a forward contract with the implied

forward price, g given by the following equation.


k(t) (6)
g (t) = E +(t
B(t)


Forward Contracts and
The American Options Portfolio

If the portfolio of a long call and a short put is created

with American options it is not sufficient to consider the

payoff only at maturity because an American option gives its

holder the right of early exercise. This causes a distortion

in the possible equivalence of a forward contract and "The

American Options Portfolio" because if either of the options

comprising the portfolio is exercised before expiration,

there is an intermediate payoff from the portfolio but no

such payoff is forthcoming from the forward contract.

Note that once the equivalence is distorted due to early

exercise it cannot, theoretically, be restored by simply

buying or selling an identical option because the exercised

option is exercised presumably because it is "optimal" for

everyone to do so. Under this scenario the open interest in

the option should go to zero.

It is quite obvious that the exact equivalence of a

forward contract and "The European Options Portfolio" is of

little practircl interest since almost all traded options are

American. The more interesting issue is that of the

relationship between "The American Options Portfolio" and a

forward contract. In order to make any meaningful statement









about this relationship it is imperative that the issue of

early exercise be analyzed in greater depth. This task is

described in the next section.



Early Exercise of American Options

Previous Research

The theoretical implications of the possibility of early

exercise have been discussed by a number of researchers. The

most important contribution in this area is by Merton (1973)

who developed a number of propositions regarding early

exercise of options. Since then, other researchers (e.g., Cox

and Rubinstein (1985), Geske and Shastri (1985), Evnine and

Rudd (1985)) have elaborated on and supplemented his work.

The major results known regarding early exercise of

options are summarized below. For ease of understanding,

these propositions are presented assuming the option is

written on a share of common stock.


(1) A call option on a stock that pays no dividend before the

expiration of the option, should not be exercised before

expiration. A call option on a stock that does pay some

intermediate dividends may be exericsed early but the

only times when it may be optimal to do so are when the

stock is about to go ex-dividend.

(2) A put option on a stock which pays no dividend may be

exercised early. Theoretically, it may be optimal to

exercise a put at any time before expiration, but the









more likely points of time are immediately after the

stock goes ex-dividend.

(3) If it is optimal to exercise a call then it is never

optimal to leave unexercised an otherwise identical call

that has either a lower exercise price or a shorter time

to expiration.

(4) If it is optimal to exercise a put then it is never

optimal to leave unexercised an otherwise identical put

that has either a higher exercise price or a shorter time

to expiration.

(5) It is not optimal to exercise an option if a better

price can be obtained in the secondary market. By the

same token, if it is optimal to exercise an option, its

price in the secondary market should be exactly equal to

its exercise value.

(6) Assuming that future dividends and interest rates are

known, if the present value of all future dividends is

less than the present value of the interest that can be

earned on the exercise price, the call should never be

exercised before expiration. Thus, higher dividends

increase the probability of early exercise of call

options.

(7) Assuming that future dividends and interest rates are

known, if the present value of all future dividends is

greater than the present value of interest that can be

earned on the exercise price, a put option should not be









exercised early. This proposition implies that higher

dividends deter early exercise of put options.

(8) From Propositions (3) and (4) it follows that an option

with a longer time to expiration is less likely to be

exercised than an otherwise identical option with a

shorter time to expiration. Also, an option with smaller

exercise value is less likely to be exercised than an

otherwise identical option with higher exercise value.

(9) The last proposition has special relevance for index

options. The dividend on an index is far more continuous

than the dividend on an individual stock. Combining this

knowledge with Proposition (7) and Proposition (7) one

can see that dividends act as a weaker stimulant for

early exercise of index call options than they do for

individual stock options. Analogously, dividends act as a

weaker deterrent to the early exercise of index put

options than they do for individual stock options.


Even though the analytical results listed above have been

known for quite some time, I know of no empirical research to

validate these conjectures. The lack of data may partially

explain the lack of research in this area. In order to carry

out the second task outlined in the beginning, it is

necessary to carry out an empirical study of early exercises

of index options--specifically, MMI options.









Data

The data regarding early exercise of MMI options are

provided by the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). These

data contain a listing of calls and puts exercised every day

during 1985. The exercises are categorized according to

exercise price and expiration month. These data are

supplemented by other data regarding volume and open interest

from The Wall Street Journal and Stock Option Guide

respectively.

The data regarding open interest have two deficiencies

which need to be pointed out. First, they are available for

only 32 of the most popular MMI options contracts. This

implies that a small number of contracts are left out.

However, the contracts that are so missed are those for which

open interest is low. The remaining sample is still of

sufficient size to yield good statistical results. The second

deficiency is that only weekly observations are available.

This compels one to estimate daily open interest by

interpolating between two adjacent weekly observations and

making an adjustment for the number of options exercised. It

is possible that this estimation may create some bias but it

is not likely to be systematic. Moreover, a look at open

interest data shows that they usually do not fluctuate

dramatically over short periods and, therefore, the magnitude

of the bias caused by interpolation is likely to be small.

Open interest for each series of calls and puts for each

day is estimated by using the following equation.










EOI(t) = EOI(t-l) + DAILY(w) EX(t) (7)

where EOI(t) = Estimated Open Interest for day t

EOI(t-1) 5 Estimated Open Interest for day t-i

EX(t) 5 Number of Options Exercised on day t

DAILY(w) 5 Daily factor defined as

(OI(W) OI(w-l) + TOTEX(w))/5

OI(w) S Actual Open interest at the end of

the current week

OI(w-l) = Actual Open Interest at the end of


TOTEX(w) ]


the previous week

Total Number of Options Exercised

during the current week.


The last piece of information needed is the number of

"Opening Purchases." This term refers to purchases which give

the investor a new position where previously he had none. In

contrast to "Opening Purchases," the term "Closing Purchases"

refers to purchases which are entered into in order to close

out an existing position. The following equation is used to

determine the number of "Opening Purchases."


OP = (VOL + EX + EXP)/2 (8)

where OP C Number of Opening Purchases

VOL 5 Total Volume (i.e., Total Number of

Options Traded)

EX S Number of Options Exercised

EXP S Number of Options that Expired without

being Exercised










The number of options that expired without being exercised

is estimated by aggregating the open interest in options that

are out-of-the-money at expiration. The implicit assumption

here is that all options that are in-the-money are either

exercised or closed-out in secondary market. This assumption

is reasonable since every rational investor will likely
14
exercise an in-the-money option at maturity. Since at any

time, data regarding only 32 contracts is available, some

observations for variable EXP (Number of Options that Expired

without being Exercised) in equation (8) are missed. However,

it is not expected to introduce a serious bias since the

number of contracts so missed is likely to be small.

Moreover, the effect of a small error in estimating EXP is

miniscule since the major driving force in equation (8) is

Total Volume (VOL).


Empirical Results

The data are analyzed with the objective of determining

the importance or non-importance of early exercise of MMI

options. This is achieved by two different means. First, some

summary statistics regarding the magnitude of early exercise

are presented. Second, a test of some of the propositions





14
14Investors for whom transactions costs of exercising
are not close to zero may decide to let an option expire
without being exercised if transactions costs are more than
the exercise value of the option.









regarding early exercise is conducted in order to understand

the motivation behind early exercises by investors.


Summary statistics

During the year 1985 a total of 11.17 million MMI options

contracts were traded. Of these, 6.44 million were call

options and 4.73 million were put options. During the same

period a total of 231,272 calls and 115,631 puts were

actually exercised. The rest were either closed-out by taking

an opposite position or allowed to expire worthless.

To measure the percentage of options that were actually

exercised, one should not calculate the number exercised as a

percentage of total number of options traded. In order to

make a meaningful statement about the magnitude of the

options exercised, the number of exercised options should be

expressed as a percentage of total "Opening Purchases" for

the following reason. An "Opening Purchase" can either be

closed-out by taking an opposite position or the option can

be exercised or the option can be allowed to expire if it is

worthless. Therefore, to find out how many of the originating

contracts are indeed exercised it is necessary to take the

number of contracts exercised as a percentage of "Opening

Purchases."

Using equation (8), it is found that there are a total of

3.70 million "Opening Purchases" for call options and 2.P)

million "Opening Purchases" for put options, thus giving a

total of 6.50 million "Opening Purchases" for MMI options

during 1985.









Using these numbers in conjunction with the early exercise

data it is found that 6.25 percent of MMI calls and 4.13

percent of MMI puts were actually exercised during 1985.

However, for this study the important variable is not the

percentage of options that were exercised, but the percentage

of options that were exercised early. The analysis shows that

out of a total of 231,272 calls that were exercised, 61.8

percent were exercised on maturity date itself. Out of a

total of 115,631 puts exercised, 69.2 percent were exercised

on maturity date. This implies that the number of calls and

puts that were exercised early is 88,395 and 35,595

respectively. As a percentage of "Opening Purchases," it

implies that a mere 2.39 percent of calls and 1.27 percent of

puts were exercised early. For both types of options put

together 1.91 percent of all opening contracts were exercised

early. A summary of these statistics is provided in Table 10.


Table 10
Summary Statistics for
Major Market Index Options (1985)


(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Total Opening Number (3) as Early (5) as (5) as
Volume Purchases Exer- % of Exer- % of % of
(millions) (millions) cised (2) cises (3) (2)



Calls 6.44 3.70 231,272 6.25 88,395 38.2 2.39

Puts 4.73 2.80 115,631 4.13 35,595 30.8 1.27

Total 11.17 6.50 346,903 5.34 124,190 35.8 1.91









From these statistics it is clear that a very small

percentage of options are acutally exercised. Not only is the

proportion of options exercised small in absolute terms, it

is even smaller as compared to marketwide statistics

presented in Table 11.


Table 11
Comparison of Early Exercises
for MMI Options Vs. All Others (1985)


Percent of Opening Purchases

MMI Options All Options

Closing Early Exercises Expired Closing Total Expired
Sales Exer- at Sales Exer-
cises Maturity cises



Calls 74.01 2.39 3.86 19.74 58.4 12.5 31.2

Puts 68.89 1.27 2.86 26.98 63.6 13.0 27.3



Note: The figures for "All Options" do not add up to 100
percent for technical reasons. See CBOE brochure entitled
Market Statistics, for details.

(Source: Chicago Board Options Exchange and Options Clearing
Corporation)


The statistics given in Table 11 show that the magnitude of

exercise for MMI options is substantially lower than the

magnitude for all options put together. For all options on

all exchanges, the percentage of "Opening Purchases" settled

by exercising during 1985 is 12.3 percent for call options

and 7.5 percent for put options. The comparable figures for

MMI options are 6.25 percent and 4.13 percent respectively.









These results are not all that surprising considering the

cash settlement feature of index options. Since exercising an

index option does not involve physical transfer of the

underlying stocks it eliminates investors who otherwise may

have wanted to exercise the options in order to obtain the

underlying stocks. For call options, there is an additional

reason for fewer exercises. The dividend on an index is much

more continuous than the dividend on an individual stock and,

therefore, the non-exercise condition (given by Proposition

6) is satisfied more easily for call index options.

Even though summary statistics strongly support the view

that early exercises are negligible, the data are further

examined to test some of the early exercise propositions. Of

particular interest is the role of dividends in the decision

to exercise since most propositions have it as an important

variable.


Test of dividend effect

The first task is to test the dividend effect on exercises

as hypothesized by Proposition (1) and Proposition (2). This

test should shed light on investors' motivations behind

exercising options before expiration.

To carry out this test a distinction is made between

"relevant days" and "other days." The term "relevant days"

simply means the days for which there is a greater likeli.'od

of early exercise than on other days, other things being

equal. From Proposition (1), it can be seen that a "relevant

day" for call options is the day just before the stock goes









ex-dividend. From Proposition (2). a "relevant day" for put

options is the ex-dividend day itself. If investors are

indeed swayed by the dividend factor in making the decision

to exercise, one should observe a greater percentage of

exercises taking place, on an average, on "relevant days"

than on "other days."

During 1985, dividends were paid by one or more Major

Market Index companies on 59 different days. This implies

that there were 59 "relevant days" for calls as well as for

puts. For both types of options, the data are divided into

two groups. The first group consists of observations from

"relevant days," and the second group consists of all other

observations. These data are used to test the null hypothesis

that the mean value of percentage of options outstanding

exercised on any day is equal for both the groups. The

results for this hypothesis are presented in Table 12.


Table 12
Test of Dividend Effect on Option Exercises


% of Calls % of Calls % of Puts % of Puts
outstanding outstanding outstanding outstanding
exercised on exercised on exercised on exercised on
relevant days other days relevant days other days


N = 781 N = 2541 N = 744 N = 2470

a = 0.99 u = 0.72 u = 0.41 u = 0 55

t = 1.04 t = 0.85



The t-statistics presented in Table 12 show that the null

hypothesis cannot be rejected even at 10 percent level of









significance, i.e., it cannot be claimed with a high level of

confidence that more exercises take place on "relevant days."

Moreover, the results show that for put options the direction

of the difference between the two groups is just the opposite

of that suggested by theory. A smaller percentage of

outstanding puts are exercised on "relevant days" than on

"other days" but the difference is statistically

insignificant. For call options the difference is in line

with that predicted by Proposition (1). A larger percentage

of outstanding calls are exercised on "relevant days" than on

"other days," but the difference between the two groups is

not statistically significant.

These results seem to imply that not only the magnitude of

early exercises for index options is negligible, it is also

not systematically related to dividends as predicted by

Propositions (1) and (2). This does not, by any means, imply

that Propositions (1) and (2) are incorrect. It simply means

that for the special case of index options they do not hold

as strongly as they are expected to, and probably do, for

individual stock options.


Choice between closing-out in secondary market
and exercising--Role of transactions costs

Propositions (3) and (4) alongwith some other propositions

are tested in a regression analysis framework in the next

section. Proposition (5) which is related to the choice

between exercising and closing out an option in the secondary

market is interesting. It is analyzed in detail next.









The data are examined to see if the price that could have

been realized in the secondary market, at the time the option

was exercised, is greater than the exercise value (intrinsic

value) of the option. In order for the test to be reliable,

the time at which the price of the option is observed should

coincide with the time the option is exercised. A special

feature of index options ensures that the optimal time to

make a decision regarding exercising the option is after 4:00

P.M. (Eastern Time) each day. The feature which causes such a

phenomenon is cash settlement. When an index option is

exercised, there is no delivery of underlying stocks. The

holder of the option simply gets the difference between

exercise price and the spot index value at the close of the

day on which the exercise notice is tendered to the Options

Clearing Corporation. It is, therefore, in the interest of

the option holder to wait until the stock market has closed

and the closing index value has been determined. Since the

stock market closes at 4:00 P.M. (Eastern Time) the optimal

time to make the exercise decision is after 4:00 P.M.

The next step is to check if there are any trades between

4:00 P.M. and 4:10 P.M. for the options that were exercised

during 1985. Since this study focuses exclusively on early

exercises, the data for 88,395 calls and 35,595 puts that

were exercised early, are examined further. It is found .hat

for 40,862 calls and 15,590 puts a better price in the

secondary market was foregone by the investors.









At first glance, such behavior on the part of the

investors seems to be irrational. However, there is one

important variable that has not been considered yet. So far

transactions costs have been ignored on the basis that for

professional traders, they are minimal. However, when data on

actual exercises is analyzed, it is inappropriate to make

such an assumption since a number of these exercises are

possibly undertaken by ordinary individuals, who are not

immume from transactions costs.

The most common practice regarding transactions costs for

exercising an index option is to charge the customer assuming

the option had been closed out in the secondary market. For

such cases there is no difference between transactions costs

for exercising and those for closing out. 5 Therefore, the

regular commission is irrelevant for comparing closing-out

and exercising. However, there is another type of transaction

cost that is still relevant. The bid-ask spread of the dealer

is relevant when considering closing-out in the market. Cox

and Rubinstein (1985) state that the one-way spread borne by

an option investor is less than 1/16 of one dollar. With this

in mind, I calculate the number of options for which the

price available in the secondary market was higher than



1All four brokerage houses (2 discount brokers anJ2 2
full- service brokers) contacted, follow the practice of
charging a customer for exercising an option by assuming that
the option had been closed-out in secondary market. The
possibility that some brokers may not follow this practice,
cannot be denied.









exercise value to cover a bid-ask spread of $1/16. A second

scenario envisaged is that of a higher bid-ask spread of

$1/8. These calculations are presented in Table 13. The

numbers in the second column entitled "Number Analyzable"

refer to the number of options for which a trade between 4:00

P.M. and 4:10 P.M. could be traced. The term "Prem." refers

to the premium over exercise value of the option.


Table 13
Choice between Exercising and Closing-Out


(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

4 of Number 4 for (3) as # for (5) as # for (7) as
Early Analy- which % of which % of which % of
Exer- zable Prem. (2) Prem. (2) Prem. (2)
cises >0 >1/16 >1/8



Calls 88395 64949 40862 62.9 16502 25.4 13506 20.8


Puts 35595 29070 14768 50.8 7562 26.0 3843 13.2



From the results presented above it can be seen that when

bid-ask spread is taken into account, the number of options

that apparently should not have been exercised declines

sharply. Nevertheless, there are still a few option exercises

that cannot be explained even by a bid-ask spread of $1/8.

An interesting phenomenon is discovered for some

exercises. There are instances where options are being

exercised at maturity even though their exercise value is

extremely low, and apparently not enough to cover the









transaction costs. Two cases stand out in this regard. On

March 16, 1985, a total of 2,678 March 250 calls were

exercised at a time when their exercise value was a mere

eight cents. Similarly, on May 18, 1985, a total of 10,827

May 255 puts were exercised when their exercise value was

eight cents. Since the transaction costs of exercising are

usually greater than eight cents (see Chapter IV for details

regarding transactions costs) it seems surprising that these

options should have been exercised. Three possible

explanations exist.


(1) These exercises were undertaken by brokers themselves

and, therefore, transactions costs were limited to the

nominal sum charged by the OCC.

(2) It is possible that some brokerage houses do not follow

the practice of charging their customers for exercises as

if they had been closed-out.

(3) These exercises are irrational.


The first two explanations seem more likely, but it is

impossible to prove one way or the other since no information

is available as to who indeed exercised these options.


Test of other early exercise propositions

Propositions (6), (7), and (8) are tested next in a

regression analysis framework. Since Proposition (8) _, based

on Propositions (3) and (4), the following test also applies

to the latter two. These propositions offer the following

conjectures.










(1) The greater the exercise value (intrinsic value) of an

option, greater the likelihood of its early exercise.

12) The greater the present value of future dividends minus

the present value of interest on exercise price, greater

the likelihood of early exercises for call options. For

put options, the opposite holds true.

(3) The greater the time to maturity of an option, lower the

likelihood of its early exercise.


Based on these three conjectures the following regression

model is formulated.


Y = a + 1 2X2 + 3X3 + e


where Y s Percentage of Outstanding Options Exercised

(i.e., Y = EX(t)/EOI(t)*100)

X1, Exercise Value (Intrinsic Value) of Option

(for calls: X1 = S-E, for puts: X1 = E-S)

X2 = Difference between PV(Dividend) and PV(Interest)

(for calls:X2 a PV(Dividend)-PV(Interest on E)

for puts: X2 2 PV(Interest on E)-PV(Dividend)

X3 3 Time to Maturity of the Contract


On the basis of the analytical results listed earlier, a

priori, the coefficients are expected to have the following

signs.


Bi>0, P2>0, B3<0









The results from this regression model are presented in

Table 14.


Table 14
Results from the Regression
Y = a + )3X1 + |2X2 + 3X3 + e



Y N Intercept X1 X2 X3 R2



Calls 3322 2.004 0.099 0.326 -0.023 5.5 %
** ** **
(11.06) (9.99) (1.61) (3.72)


Puts 3214 1.849 0.095 0.024 -0.021 6.1 %
** ** **
(13.10) (12.55) (0.16) (5.16)


Total 6536 1.753 0.098 0.158 -0.025 5.8 %
** ** **
(17.22) (16.29) (2.50) (9.597)


significant at 5 % level
**
significant at 1 % level




All three coefficients have their expected signs. The

difference, however, is that "Intrinsic Value" and "Time to

Maturity" are good explanatory variables, but the "Difference

between Present Value of Dividends and Present Value of

Interest on Exercise Price" is not as significant in

explaining the magnitude of early exercise. Once again, a

relative lack of dividend effect for index options is

demonstrated.





64




Conclusion

In this chapter a number of results regarding early

exercises of index options were presented. It was shown that

a small number of options are exercised early, and especially

for index options, a negligible number are exercised early.

Given this information it seems plausible that even "The

American Options Portfolio" can closely approximate a forward

contract. The next chapter uses this conjecture further for

exploring the relationship between options and futures

contracts.














CHAPTER IV
FUTURES CONTRACTS AND
THE AMERICAN OPTIONS PORTFOLIO


Introduction

The year 1985 will be remembered in financial circles as

the year when words like "arbitrage" and arbitrageurss"

became commonly known. Much of the credit for this goes to

"program trading" which was increasingly used by arbitrageurs

to lock in nearly riskfree profits by taking advantage of the

discrepancy in prices between different markets. The Major

Market Index contracts were not immune from this phenomenon

as this quote from a news article by Zaslow (1986) confirms.


A growing number of big institutional traders are using
a Chicago Board of Trade futures contract and an American
Stock Exchange option on the Major Market Index . As
traders buy or sell underlying MMI stock or options and
offset their positions in futures, they are creating some
of the most unpredictable price moves yet in the booming
stock and stock-index markets. (emphasis added) (April 7,
1986, page 40)


The analysis presented in the preceding chapters provides

the tools to explore the relationship between MMI options and

MMI futures. From the analysis of early exercises of MMI

options presented in Chapter III, it seems that their effect

is minimal, and that "The American Options Portfolio" can b1

used to approximate a forward contract. In that case, the

relationship between forward and futures contracts described









and tested in Chapter II should also hold true for "The

American Options Portfolio" and a futures contract.

Recall that equation (6) provided the definition of

inferred forward prices using European options. This equation

is now rewritten for American options.


K(T) (9)
g = E + (T)
B(T)


Forward prices inferred using this equation are compared

to futures prices to determine the direction and magnitude of

the differences between them. Futher, the possibility of

existence of arbitrage opportunities is examined.


Data

To study the relationship between "The American Options

Portfolio" and a futures contract, daily observations for all

MMI calls and puts traded during 1985 are obtained from Daily

Market Publications. A major strength of the data is that

they are trade-by-trade with time of trade stamped alongside

the price of the option. This feature of the data enables me

to minimize the non-synchronicity problem so common in

studies using options data.

The non-synchronicity problem arises when the prices of

two contracts being compared are observed at different times.

The following process is used to minimize the effect of this

problem. It is known that trading in the three markets, i.e.,

the stock market, the options market, and the futures market,

stops within a span of 15 minutes. The market for spot asset









is the New York Stock Exchange and it stops trading at 4:00

P.M. (Eastern Time). The MMI options, traded on the American

Stock Exchange, stop trading at 4:10 P.M. (Eastern Time) and

the futures contracts, traded on the Chicago Board of Trade,

stop trading at 4:15 P.M. (Eastern Time).

A data set containing the last trade of each call and put

for every day in 1985 is created, provided a trade took place

between 4:00 P.M. and 4:10 P.M. This means that the maximum

discrepancy between the time the option prices and the

futures prices are observed, is 15 minutes. Even though, in

my opinion, this is within acceptable limits, I double-check

by creating two subsets of data--one consisting of only those

options for which a trade took place exactly at 4:10 P.M.,

and another consisting of all other options. The results of

this exercise are presented in the next section.

Minimizing the non-synchronicity problem has one drawback

in that the deep in- and out-of-the-money and longer maturity

options are represented only infrequently in the sample.


Empirical Results16

Direction and Magnitude of the Difference between
Futures Prices and Inferred Forward Prices

Similar to Chapter II, the first task is to examine the

direction and the magnitude of the difference between futures




16The empirical results presented in this section should
be interpreted carefully. An unexpected phenomenon, found in
later research, seems to weaken these results. See footnote
17 for more details regarding this phenomenon.









prices and inferred forward prices. The data are divided into

four categories on the basis of time to maturity. The

following table contains some statistics regarding the

difference between futures prices and inferred forward

prices. The difference (f-g ) is denoted by variable Z.


Table 15
Difference between Futures Prices
and Inferred Forward Prices (in cents)


Days to 0-14 15-29 30-44 >45 Total
Maturity


Number of
observations 340 350 254 153 1097

Z 7.9 11.9 21.2 24.2 14.5
** ** ** ** **
t-statistic 5.55 6.29 8.77 6.40 13.37



Comparing the results presented in Table 15 to those in

Table 2, a few similarities as well as several important

differences are obvious. The two sets of results are similar

in that futures prices are found to be greater than forward

prices as well as inferred forward prices. In both cases, the

difference between the two prices increases with time to

maturity. Even though the direction of the results in both

tables is identical, the difference in magnitude is

unmistakable. The difference between futures prices and

inferred forward prices is substantially smaller than the

difference between futures prices and forward prices. To

examine the cause of this discrepancy the first possibility

examined is the effect of non-synchronicity.











Test of Non-Synchronicity Effect

To examine whether a significant difference is caused by

the small degree of non-synchronicity left in the sample, the

sample is divided into two sets. The first set contains only

those option trades which took place at 4:10 P.M. Since the

futures market closes at 4:15 P.M., the non-synchronicity for

such trades is 5 minutes. The second set contains the last

trade for each call and put series, provided the trade took

place between 4:00 P.M. and 4:09 P.M. The non-synchronicity

for this set ranges from 6 minutes to 15 minutes. Table 16

presents the results of a test of the difference in the value

of Z for the two groups.












Difference
inferred


Table 16
between futures prices and
forward prices (in cents)


Days to Maturity 4:10 P.M. Trades 4:00-4:09 P.M. Trades


N = 186 N = 154

0-14 X = 8.1 X = 7.7
** **
t = 4.57 t = 3.32
t = 0.13


N = 188 N = 162

15-29 X = 11.5 X = 12.4
** **
t = 4.57 t = 4.31
t = 0.24


N = 85 N = 169

30-44 X = 19.3 X = 22.1
** **
t = 4.79 t = 7.34
t = 0.56


N = 32 N = 121

>45 X = 13.9 X = 26.9
**
t = 1.61 t = 6.43
t = 1.36


significant at 5% level
**
significant at 1% level




The results presented in the Table 16 indicate that the

two groups are are very similar. It is not surprising that

observations from 4:00 P.M. trades are, on an average,

similar to those observed at 4:10 P.M. because an important

determinant of option prices, the spot index, is fixed at










4:00 P.M. when the stock market stops trading. Since the two

groups are so similar, the following discussion does not

distinguish between the two sets.


Time Trend in the Difference between Futures
Prices and Inferred Forward Prices

Recall that in Chapter II it was argued that the

differences between futures and forward prices are large

enough to allow for the existence of quasi-arbitrage

opportunities. If a similar argument is be applied to the

difference between futures prices and inferred forward

prices, it would seem that quasi-arbitrage opportunities, if

they exist, may not be as abundant in options and futures

markets as they are in futures and spot markets because the

differences between futures and inferred forward prices are

relatively smaller.

Another argument advanced in Chapter II was that there is

a decline in the difference between forward and futures price

over time, presumably as a result of the actions of the

arbirageurs. A similar reasoning can be applied to inferred

forward prices and futures prices. It is expected that the

difference between futures prices and inferred forward prices

will decline over time but the decline may not be as sharp or

consistent since the difference is relatively small to begin

with. To test this conjecL-re the sample is divided into four

quarters and the trend in Z is observed over time.









Table 17
Difference between Futures Prices
and Inferred Forward Prices (in Cents)


Days to Qtr.l Qtr.2 Qtr.3 Qtr.4 Total
Maturity


N = 86 70 82 102 340
0-14 Z = 7.4 15.3 10.4 1.3 7.9
t = 3.37 5.47 4.13 0.40 5.55


N = 83 81 81 105 350
15-29 Z = 14.1 17.8 16.9 1.7 11.9
** ** ** **
t = 2.94 4.35 5.34 0.59 6.29


N = 53 47 66 88 254
30-44 Z = 23.2 12.4 33.2 15.6 21.2
** ** ** ** **
t = 3.28 3.17 6.82 4.68 8.77


N = 14 30 55 54 153
>45 Z = 8.8 45.8 22.4 17.9 24.2
** ** ** **
t = 0.67 5.44 4.04 2.69 6.40


N = 236 228 284 349 1097
Total Z = 13.4 19.6 19.9 7.6 14.5
t = 5.18 8.66 9.96 4.03 13.37

**
significant at 1 % level




As expected the decline in the difference between futures

prices and inferred forward price is not as noticeable as the

decline in the difference between futures prices and forward

prices as reported in Table 8. This is consistent with the

conjecture that quasi-arbitrage opportunities in options and









futures market, if they existed at all during 1985, were

probably not very large to begin with and, therefore, the

difference between futures price and inferred price does not

decline as dramatically.


Quasi-Arbitrage Opportunities
in Options Markets

An interesting aspect of equation (9) is that g the

inferred forward price, can be observed from any exercise

price so long as the corresponding call and put prices can be

observed. It can be easily shown that if two different

exercise prices yield two different g for European options,

arbitrage profit can be made as described below.

Without any loss of generality, assume that E1
prices inferred from these options are denoted by gl and g2

respectively. An arbitrage strategy is described in Table 18
A* **
for the case where gl>g2. In case g
simply be reversed.









Table 18
Arbitrage Strategy Using European Options


At Maturity
Initial
Cash Flow S(s)>E >E1 E2>S(s)>E1 E2>E >S(s)



Buy Call 2 -c2 S(s)-E2

Sell Put 2 p S(s)-E, S(s)-E2

Buy Put 1 -p E1-S(s)

Sell Call 1 c! E1-S(s) E1-S(s)

Lend -B(E2-E1) E2-E1 E2-E1 E2-E1



e>0 0 0 0



This strategy gives a positive payoff at the beginning and

a zero payoff at maturity date. In an efficient market, such

opportunities should be eliminated instantly. Thus, for

European options, a non-arbitrage condition is that options

with two different exercise prices should yield the same g

In chapter III it was argued that the early exercise

feature of American options on stock indicies is sparingly

utilized. Hence, it seems that even for American options, a

change in the exercise price should have a negligible effect

on the inferred forward price.

To test this conjecture the data are divided into two

subsets. Every day for which inferred forward prices based on

two or more different exercise prices are available, is

selected for the test. Prices of options with the lowest









exercise price are denoted by CMIN and PMIN and those with

highest exercise price are denoted by CMAX and PMAX. Based on

these two sets of observations, two different values of g

are calculated using the following equations.


CMIN-PMIN
g MIN = EMIN M B

SCMAX PMAX
g'MAX = EMAX B


(10)


(11)


*
To test whether the mean value of g is equal to the

mean value of qMAX' a simple t-test is performed. A new
*
variable, W, is defined to denote the difference between gMIN

and gMAX. The relevant statistics for W are presented in

Table 19.


Table 19

between gMIN


and gMAX (in Cents)


Days to 0-14 15-29 30-44 >45 Total
Maturity


Number of
observations 116 114 82 38 350

W 14.4 21.7 21.2 16.9 18.6
** ** ** **
t-statistic 5.49 4.97 4.63 1.53 8.07

**
significant at 1 % level



The results presented in Table 19 are somewhat surprising.

The variable gMIN is higher than gMAX for all maturities.


Difference








This implies that as exercise price decreases, the inferred

forward price, g also increases.17

If early exercise is not an issue then an arbitrage as

shown in Table 18 should be feasible. Since it was argued in

the previous chapter that early exercise is minimal, but not

zero, a "perfect" arbitrage strategy seems infeasible. A

quasi-arbitrage strategy may be to adopt the strategy

outlined in Table 18 and take positions with different

brokers. It has been shown empirically that early exercise

probability itself is small. Even if that small probability

were to become a reality, it is unlikely that it would happen

for investor's positions with all brokers. It is, however,

difficult to quantify the net effect of this strategy given

the subjective factors involved.


Transactions Costs and Quasi-Arbitrage

A casual check of transactions costs for floor traders

shows that they are minimal. The only kind of transactions

costs that these traders pay are clearing charges to the OCC

and any per contact charges levied by the options exchange.

At present, the OCC charges 7.5 cents per contract per side

for clearing the trade. Since the strategy outlined in Table



1This unexpected phenomenon reduces the credibility of
the results presei-'-ed in the previous section. It was shown
that futures prices, f,,exceeded inferred forward prices, g*.
Now that we find that g varies systematically with E, it is
not clear whether the difference between f and g* is real or
caused by the exercise prices that happened to be selected
for the results presented in Table 15 through Table 19.









18 involves taking a position in four different options, the

total one-way transaction costs are 30 cents for one contract

in each option. For each index unit it implies a total one-

way transactions cost of 0.3 cents. As regards the charges by

the options exchange, traders must pay the exchange 6 cents

per contract per side for trading on their own account. This

implies an additional charge of 24 cents per side charge for

trading in four options simultaneously. The addition to the

per index unit cost is a negligible 0.24 cents.

From this discussion it is obvious that the transactions

costs for floor traders are negligible. Therefore, such costs

will not be a deterrent to exploitation of quasi-arbitrage

opportunities, if such opportunities exist.

I also check to see if transactions costs for ordinary

individuals are low enough for them to consider jumping into

the fray to exploit the quasi-arbitrage opportunities.

Ignoring early exercise, this strategy is feasible for

ordinary individuals if the transactions costs are less than

the differences reported in Table 19. The transactions costs

are obtained from two discount brokers and two full-service

brokers. Since similar results are obtained from different

transactions costs data, only one of them is reported here.


Dollar Amount Commission

$ 0 2,000 $18 + 1.8 % of dollar anount

$ 2,001 $11,000 $38 + 0.8 % of dollar amount

$ 11,001 and over $98 + 0.25 % of dollar amount








These commission rates are applied to the data on options

to see if the arbitrage strategy described in Table 18 is

feasible for ordinary individuals. Three different scenerios

are envisaged on the basis that the arbitrage strategy is

undertaken by taking a position in 10 contracts, 100

contracts, and 1,000 contracts. Table 20 presents the summary

of one-way transactions costs for all three scenerios.8


Table 20
One-Way Transactions Costs Per Index Unit for Ordinary
Individuals using the Strategy Outlined in Table 18
(in cents)


Days to
Maturity 0-14 15-29 30-44 >44 Total
No. of Contracts


10 21.2 25.7 28.4 29.9 25.3


100 6.0 7.5 8.4 8.8 7.4


1000 3.3 4.3 5.0 5.4 4.2



Comparing the transaction costs given in Table 20 to the
*
magnitude of difference between gMIN and gMAX given in Table





18
18Only one-way transactions costs are presented in this
table since they are sufficient to make the point here. The
round-trip costs cn be approximated by noting that out of
the four options in which a position is taken, two will
expire worthless. For the other two, closing trades will have
to be made and transactions costs will have to be incurred. A
rough estimate of round-trip transaction costs, therefore, is
to multiply the numbers presented in Table 20 by 1.5.









19, it is easy to see that it is much more difficult for

ordinary individuals to undertake the operation, unless they

are willing to take on large positions. The transactions

costs for ordinary individuals are not negligible as they are

for floor traders.


Conclusion

It was shown in this chapter that for the sample used,

futures prices exceed forward prices inferred from option

prices. The difference between the two prices is a function

of time to maturity, but not a function of time of trade for

observations taken between 4:00 P.M. and 4:10 P.M. A weakness

of the results is that they are sensitive to the exercise

prices chosen for inferring forward prices. Such sensitivity

weakens the results presented in Table 15 through Table 18.

However, it proves to be the basis of the discovery of

potential quasi-arbitrage opportunities in the options

market.














CHAPTER V
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

This dissertation examines the interrelationships among

options, forward contracts and futures contracts. The first

issue addressed is the relationship between forward contracts

and futures contracts. The controversy about the difference

between forward prices and futures prices is addressed from a

different perspective using stock index futures. It is shown

that during 1985 significant differences existed between

equilibrium forward prices and observed futures prices on

Major Market Index. The differences were too large to be

explained by the CIR model which takes into account the daily

resettlement feature of futures contracts. The magnitude of

the differences is large enough to allow for the existence of

quasi-arbitrage opportunities between spot and futures

markets. Even after the transactions costs are taken into

account, profitable opportunities exist for professional

traders. For ordinary investors, transactions costs are

apparently high enough to perclude their participation in

arbitarge operations. Further, it is found that during 1985

such opportunities declined over time presumably because of

the actions of the aihitrageurs.

The second issue addressed is the relationship between a

forward contract and a specific portfolio of options. It is

well-known that the two are equivalent if the portfolio









consists of European options. It is argued in this study that

even when the portfolio consists of American options, it may

closely approximate a forward contract. The essence of this

argument is that a miniscule proportion of options are

exercised early thus reducing the distinction between

European and American options. The argument is especially

strong for the special case of index options which experience

a much smaller incidence of early exercise. It is also shown

that for index options, some of the theoretical conjectures

regarding early exercises are not very useful in explaining

even the small incidence of early exercise. In particular,

dividends do not seem to influence early exercise of index

options in the manner suggested by theory for individual

stock options.

The third issue addressed is the relationship between

American options and futures contracts. It is argued that

since "The American Options Portfolio" closely approximates a

forward contract, it should be related to a futures contract

in the same way as a forward contract. In other words,

forward prices inferred from option prices should be related

to futures just like the eqlibrium forward prices would be. A

test of this conjecture cofirms that the direction of the

difference between inferred forward prices and futures prices

is the same as the difference between equilibrium forward

prices and futures prices, but their magnitudes differ

significantly. The difference between futures prices and

inferred forward prices are much smaller indicating that









fewer, if any, quasi-arbitrage opportunities existed between

options and futures markets as compared to such opportunities

in spot and futures markets. In doing this analysis, it is

discovered that a different kind of quasi-arbitrage

opportunity may have existed within the options market. This

discovery is a result of the observation that option prices

based on different exercise prices yield different inferred

forward prices. Lower exercise prices yield systematically

higher forward prices. If early exercise is not a major

problem, as argued in chapter III, then a quasi-arbitrage

opportunity seems to exist. However, the gain from this

opportunity is not quantifiable.










BIBLIOGRAPHY


Black, F., 1976, The pricing of commodity contracts, Journal
of Financial Economics, 3, 167-179.

Cornell, B. and M. R. Reinganum, 1981, Forward and futures
prices: evidence from the foreign exchange markets,
Journal of Finance, 36(5), 1035-1045.

Cox, J., J. Ingersoll and S. Ross, 1981, The relationship
between forward prices and futures prices, Journal of
Financial Economics, 9, 321-346.

Cox, J. and M. Rubinstein, 1985, Options Markets (Englewood
Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall).

Daily Market Publications: Option Sales on the American Stock
Exchange, 1985, published by Francis Emory Fitch, Inc.,
New York, NY.

Dusak, K., 1973, Futures trading and investor returns: An
investigation of commodity market risk premiums, Journal
of Political Economy, November-December, 1386-1407.

Evnine, J. and A. Rudd, 1985, Index options: the early
evidence, Journal of Finance, 40(3), 743-756.

French, K. R., 1983, A comparison of futures and forward
prices, Journal of Financial Economics, 12, 311-342.

Geske, R. and K. Shastri, 1985, The early exercise of
American Puts, Journal of Banking and Finance, 9,
207-219.

Jarrow, R. and G. Oldfield, 1981, Forward contracts and
futures contracts, Journal of Financial Economics, 9,
373-382.

Klemkosky, R. C. and D. J. Lasser, 1985, An efficiency
analysis of the T-bond futures market, Journal of Futures
Markets, 5(4), 607-620.

Margrabe, W., 1976, A theory of forward and futures prices,
Working paper (The Wharton School, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA).

Merton, R. C., 1973, Theory of rational option pricing, Bell
Journal of Economics, 4, 141-183.

Moody's Dividend Record, 1986, published by Moody's Investors
Service, New York, NY, 56(1).









Moriarty, E., S. Phillips and P. Tosini, 1981, A comparison
of options and futures in the management of portfolio
risk, Financial Analysts Journal, January-February, 61-67.

Park, H. Y. and A. H. Chen, 1985, Differences between futures
and forward prices: a further investigation of the
marking-to-market effects, Journal of Futures Markets,
5(1), 77-88.

Stock Option Guide: Daily Graphs, 1985, published by William
O'Neil and Co., Inc., Los Angeles, CA, Volume X.

The Wall Street Journal, 1985, published by Dow-Jones and
Company, Inc., New York, NY, Volumes CCVI and CCVII.

Wu, S., 1984, An equilibrium model of index futures pricing,
Ph.D. dissertation (University of Florida, Gainesville,
FL).

Zaslow, J., 1986, Blue chip stock-index contracts fuel
unusually volatile swings in prices, The Wall Street
Journal, April 7, 1986, Page 40.














BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Gautam Dhingra was born on December 11, 1961, in New

Delhi, India. He earned a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors)

degree from University of Delhi in 1980 and was awarded the

MBA degree in 1982 by the same institution. In 1983, he

entered the University of Florida and was awarded a doctoral

degree in Finance in August 1986. Upon completion of the

degree he joined Hewitt Associates, Lincolnshire, Illinois,

as an Investment Analyst.








I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Phil sophy.

---- -G/---- ------
Robert C. Radcliffe, airman
Associate Professor of Finance


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


r ^}-----------^----------
Stephen Cosslett
Associate Professor of Economics


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


R-o-g-_--an-g------- T-------------
Roger uang "
Associate Professor of Finance


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree o Doctor o Philosophy.



M.P.N fyanan
Assistant Professor of Finance


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of
the Department of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate in the
College of Business Administration and to the Graduate
School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.



August 1986 -------------------------------
Dean, Graduate School




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