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Modelling Market Crashes: The Worst Case Scenario

Philip Hua, Paul Wilmott


Jump diffusion models have two weaknesses: they don't allow you to hedge and the parameters are very hard to measure. Nobody likes a model that tells you that hedging is impossible (even though that may correspond to common sense) and in the classical jump-diffusion model of Merton the best that you can do is a kind of average hedging. It may be quite easy to estimate the impact of a rare event such as a crash, but estimating the probability of that rare event is another matter. In this paper we discuss a model for pricing and hedging a portfolio of derivatives that takes into account the effect of an extreme movement in the underlying but we will make no assumptions about the timing of this 'crash' or the probability distribution of its size except that we put an upper bound on the latter. This effectively gets around the difficulty of estimating the likelihood of the rare event. The pricing follows from the assumption that the worst scenario actually happens i.e. the size and time of the crash are such as to give the option its worst value. And hedging, delta and static hedging, will continue to play a key role.

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