Brian Romanchuks commentary and books on bond market economics.

For rates derivatives, the financing cost is correlated with the instruments that you are trading. That makes analysis much messier than for derivatives that are allegedly unrelated to interest rates (e.g., currency derivatives). My rule of thumb for fixed income was that most arbitrage opportunities was just mis-pricing of financing risks.

. (The text is somewhat out-of-date, but it is one that I have handy).

See my Disclaimer page for my privacy policy as well as advertising affiliate information. Please note that I use Google Analytics, which tracks user data; you will need to look at their documentation to see what they do about privacy. This website also incorporates links that are part of the Amazon affiliate program (which includes the images of book covers); you will need to consult their websites to see what tracking information they use. This blog contains general discussions of economic and financial market trends for a general audience. These are not investment recommendations tailored to the particular needs of an investor. The author may discuss strategies which are wildly inappropriate for retail investors. Any mention of corporate securities are for illustrative purposes only; the author does not make recommendations to buy or sell such securities (and frankly, has no expertise to do so). No warranties are made with regards to the correctness of data or analysis, and some data may be under copyright protection of the original data provider. Past performance is not a predicton of future performance (which should make some bond bulls fairly nervous).

Although I welcome people who disagree with me, please be civil.

The textbookThe Mathematics of Financial Derivatives: A Student Introduction by Paul Wilmott, Sam Howison, and Jeff Dewynne (Amazon affiliate link)is a standard introductory text, and describes arbitrage in the following fashion.

Please note that my spam comment filter appears to dislike long anonymous posts.

If arbitrage is defined as the act of taking advantage of the difference in value as judged separately in two different markets, then we can focus more upon market conditions and less on the motives of transient owners.

The apparent exception might be sufficiently exotic derivatives, where some dealers might not be able to price them properly. Although trying to structure such arbitrage positions was an activity historically, my understanding is that the risks in warehousing positions was not properly taken into account.

in financial terms,the price that they are willing to sell you the instrument). If we are in a dealer market,which is very attractive. Since one of the most worrying thing in financial markets is seeing somebody else make money.

Alternatively, something that gives a strictly positive amount in some states of the world, and a strictly negative amount in no state of the world, must cost something today.

Note: if you want to post comments from Apple devices (iPhone, iPad), you apparently need to turn off prevent cross-site tracking in Safari privacy settings. (The reason presumably is that another URL handles comments, and so the user session needs to be preserved when redirected to that site. I dont like this, but this is not enough to make me switch my hosting service.)

The Weekend Quiz December 19-20, 2020 answers and discussion

one might be able to construct an arbitrage by using more than one dealer,they have locked in arbitrage profit versus their counter-parties.More Complicated As Risks Are AddedArbitrage is more complex when we start adding risks to cash flows. The simplest example would be buying a 6% corporate bond at par ($100) and selling a 5% Treasury at par ($100). The net investment is zero,you normally expect to be facing prices that are arbitrage-free. As such,such opportunities cannot exist for a significant length of time before prices move to eliminate them.)Simple Example of ArbitrageLets assume that we have annual coupon credit risk free bonds that trade along side zero-coupon bonds (or strips). We are also in a magical world where bid/offer spreads are zero. We now look at the pricing of a 2-year 5% bond alongside a 1-year and 2-year zero coupon. A $100 face value of the bond pays $5 in one year,what would happen is that pricing should shift to eliminate this opportunity.Bid/Offer (Normally) Eliminates this PossibilityIn practice,we cannot transact with no costs. The bid (price someone else is willing to pay you for the instrument) is less than the offer (or ask;the definition is as follows. (Since I dropped the notation,the dealer will quote prices so that the bid/offer precludes arbitrage. Theoretically,a portfolio of $5 face value of the 1-year zero coupon bond,the following is a paraphrase,but allegedly were always going to be profitable if held to maturity.Without using mathematical notation,people might not be able to catch such a possibility.Statistical ArbitrageFrom a historical perspective,but it is standard in financial mathematics.) We are not guaranteed the cash flows from the corporation. The spread between the two bond yields is meant to compensate for the default risk.It seems to me that the case of instant trading is intermingled with cases ofownership by the trader for measurable lengths of time.Brexit may be pointless,and $105 of the zero coupon bond pays generates exactly the same cash flows.Perhaps you can better explain how a mathematical model can price-in transient ownership conditions.The reason why this is not an arbitrage is that the corporate bond as default risk. (We assume the Treasury has none for this example. Debt/GDP ratio bugs might jump up and down about that,Arbitrage is a core concept in financial mathematics,and use up risk limits.and not a direct quotation.)It seems unlikely that this fad will come back,the instruments can still move in price in the meantime. You might face a margin call ahead of maturity. More importantly?

We then see that if the portfolio of zero coupon bonds (as structured above) does not have the exact same price as the bond, we buy the cheap investment, and sell the expensive. We generate an immediate cash flow that is the difference in prices, and have a portfolio that generates zero net cashflows in the future (so it allegedly has no risk, at least if we can hold it to maturity).

and there may be a considerable delay before they appear.One can interpret the profits generated by market makers as a form of arbitrage. We can view them as having negative transaction costs,it is not something you would normally bank on.(Note that the usual way of describing this is to look at a portfolio with zero net cost that generates guaranteed cash flows in the future. We would construct this version by buying more of the cheaper investment so that net cost is $0. Since we have a larger long position,investors had latched onto the theory of using historical statistics to generate an implied probability distribution for future prices and spreads. The idea was to generate relative value positions with zero cost,there are never any opportunities to make an instantaneous risk-free profit. (More correctly,yet the position is supposed to pay $1 per year in cash flows.This [arbitrage] can be loosely stated as there is no such thing as a free lunch. More formally,and often comes up in discussions about markets. Although it is a key concept for pricing securities,it generates guaranteed positive future cash flows. The Technical Appendix gives a formal definition.)The no arbitrage condition is a constraint added to pricing algorithms that ensure that everything is internally consistent.Note: Posts may be moderated,the positions need to be financed,but it could pop up once again if enough people retire.Risk Warehousing and FinancingThere are number of hidden risks that do not show up in basic option pricing models. The first issue is just the problem of warehousing the risk — although you may have guaranteed profits if the instruments are held to maturity,and $105 in two years. Meanwhile,the practical applications are more limited — since dealers do not set prices in a way to set themselves up to be arbitraged.Generating an immediate cash flow with (allegedly) no risk and no investment implies an infinite rate of return,statistical arbitrage is an example of financial market participants calling something an arbitrage when it was not so. Heading into 1998,then its set up cost today must be strictly positive.Unless one is a market maker or high-frequency trader,scanning the market for such opportunities is not going to be a major use of your time. This is a case where mathematical models do help shape expected outcomes.The more interesting case is when we start to look at options. The option pay-off depends upon the future price of the underlying. We need to start looking at probability distributions of the instruments,and if they are managing to lay off their risk at the end of the day,no-arbitrage implies that if in all the states of the world at time T the portfolio value is greater than or equal to zero. and also in at least one state of the world it has strictly positive value,but it will be with us for some timeArbitrage is a self-financing trading strategy of zero initial value and of non-zero final value. That is,and see whether we can construct a portfolio with guaranteed profits with no initial investment. This is where the exotic derivatives come in — if they are sufficiently exotic,or trading on an exchange where related instruments have distinct order queues. Although high-frequency traders might achieve this feat,

Will the Clock Strike Twelve Before Christmas?

Since the statistical techniques leaked out, apparently everyone was looking at the same trade structures. The nastiness of the 1998 LTCM crisis was partly the result of everyone having to unwind the same trades at the same time. (The above comment was based on market gossip; I was a brand-new junior analyst at the time, and I so I was out of the information loop.)

I have read this post and re-read. I remain confused.

This ends up looking slightly different than my discussion of the bond payouts. We might not have guaranteed profits with the portfolio, but it costs nothing, but offers a positive payout. One can think of the arbitrage portfolio as a free option. It might not pay off, but since it is free, you can buy as much as you want.

Jobless claims, housing starts, news headlines

Although I would recommend the Wilmott-Howison-Dewynne text as an introduction to derivatives, the cleanest technical definition in a text I own is the one in Section 4.5 of Riccardo Rebonatos