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Bernoulli speculator and trading strategy risk

Abraham Lioui () and Patrice Poncet

Journal of Futures Markets, 2000, vol. 20, issue 6, 507-523

Abstract: In a continuous‐time model of a complete information economy, we examine the case of a “pure” speculator who chooses to trade only on forward or futures contracts written on interest‐rate‐sensitive instruments. Assuming logarithmic utility, we assess whether his strategy exhibits the same structure as when he uses primitive assets only. It turns out that when interest rates follow stochastic processes, as in the model of Heath, Jarrow, and Morton (1992), where the instantaneous forward rate is driven by an arbitrary number of factors, the speculative trading strategy involving forwards exhibits an extra term vis‐a‐vis the one using futures or primitive assets. This extra term, different from a Merton–Breeden dynamic hedge, is novel and can be interpreted as a hedge against an “endogenous risk,” namely the interest‐rate risk brought about by the optimal trading strategy itself. Thus, only the strategy using futures (or the cash assets themselves) involves a single speculative term, even for the Bernoulli speculator. This result illustrates another major aspect of the marking to market feature that differentiates futures and forwards, and thus has some bearing on the issue of the optimal design of financial contracts. Real financial markets being, in fact, incomplete, the additional “endogenous” risk associated with forwards cannot be hedged perfectly. Since using futures eliminates the latter, risk‐averse agents will find them attractive in relation to forward contracts, other things being equal. © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Jrl Fut Mark 20: 507–523, 2000

Date: 2000
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