Simple Variance Swaps
The large asset price jumps that took place during 2008 and 2009 disrupted volatility derivatives markets and caused the single-name variance swap market to dry up completely. This paper defines and analyzes a simple variance swap, a relative of the variance swap that in several respects has more desirable properties. First, simple variance swaps are robust: they can be easily priced and hedged even if prices can jump. Second, simple variance swaps supply a more accurate measure of market-implied variance than do variance swaps or the VIX index. Third, simple variance swaps provide a better way to measure and to trade correlation. The paper also explains how to interpret VIX in the presence of jumps.
I am very grateful to Peter Carr, Darrell Duffie, Stefan Hunt, and Myron Scholes for their comments. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.