Implied Risk-Neutral probability Density functions from options prices : A comparison of estimation methods

This paper compares the goodness-of-fit of eight option-based approaches used to extract risk-neutral probability density functions from a high-frequency CAC 40 index options during a normal and troubled period. Our findings show that the kernel estimator generates a strong volatility smile with … respect to the moneyness, and the kernel smiles shape varies with the chosen time to maturity. The mixture of log-normals, Edgeworth expansion, hermite polynomials, jump diffusion and Heston models are more in line and have heavier tails than the log-normal distribution. Moreover, according to the goodness of fit criteria we compute, the jump diffusion model provides a much better fit than the other models on the period just-before the crisis for relatively short maturities. However, during this same period, the mixture of log-normal models performs better for more than three month maturity. Furthermore, in the troubled period and the period just-after the crisis, we find that semi-parametric models are the methods with the best accuracy in fitting observed option prices for all maturities with a minimal difference towards the mixture of log-normals model.