Several people have asked me for copies of this reserach article, which develops a new theoretical framework, the ARFIMA-GARCH model as a basis for forecasting volatility in the S&P 500 Index. I am in the process of updating the research, but in the meantime a copy of the original paper is available here
In this analysis we are concerned with the issue of whether market forecasts of volatility, as expressed in the Black-Scholes implied volatilities of at-the-money European options on the S&P500 Index, are superior to those produced by a new forecasting model in the GARCH framework which incorporates long-memory effects. The ARFIMA-GARCH model, which uses high frequency data comprising 5-minute returns, makes volatility the subject process of interest, to which innovations are introduced via a volatility-of-volatility (kurtosis) process. Despite performing robustly in- and out-of-sample, an encompassing regression indicates that the model is unable to add to the information already contained in market forecasts. However, unlike model forecasts, implied volatility forecasts show evidence of a consistent and substantial bias. Furthermore, the model is able to correctly predict the direction of volatility approximately 62% of the time whereas market forecasts have very poor direction prediction ability. This suggests that either option markets may be inefficient, or that the option pricing model is mis-specified. To examine this hypothesis, an empirical test is carried out in which at-the-money straddles are bought or sold (and delta-hedged) depending on whether the model forecasts exceed or fall below implied volatility forecasts. This simple strategy generates an annual compound return of 18.64% over a four year out-of-sample period, during which the annual return on the S&P index itself was -7.24%. Our findings suggest that, over the period of analysis, investors required an additional risk premium of 88 basis points of incremental return for each unit of volatility risk.