Option pricing where the underlying assets follow a Gram/Charlier density of arbitrary order

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Journal Article
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 2013, 37 (3), pp. 611 - 632
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If a probability distribution is sufficiently close to a normal distribution, its density can be approximated by a Gram/Charlier Series A expansion. In option pricing, this has been used to fit risk-neutral asset price distributions to the implied volatility smile, ensuring an arbitrage-free interpolation of implied volatilities across exercise prices. However, the existing literature is restricted to truncating the series expansion after the fourth moment. This paper presents an option pricing formula in terms of the full (untruncated) series and discusses a fitting algorithm, which ensures that a series truncated at a moment of arbitrary order represents a valid probability density. While it is well known that valid densities resulting from truncated Gram/Charlier Series A expansions do not always have sufficient flexibility to fit all market-observed option prices perfectly, this paper demonstrates that option pricing in a model based on these densities is as tractable as the (far less flexible) original model of Black and Scholes (1973), allowing non-trivial higher moments such as skewness, excess kurtosis and so on to be incorporated into the pricing of exotic options: Generalising the Gram/Charlier Series A approach to the multiperiod, multivariate case, a model calibrated to standard option prices is developed, in which a large class of exotic payoffs can be priced in closed form. Furthermore, this approach, when applied to a foreign exchange option market involving several currencies, can be used to ensure that the volatility smiles for options on the cross exchange rate are constructed in a consistent, arbitrage-free manner. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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