A new research note from CME Group looks at whether FX options skews can be used to predict where certain currencies will move relative to the US dollar.Written by Erik Norland, executive director and senior economist at CME, the research opens by explaining that options markets typically exhibit a skew, but that in different asset classes this skew can be in different directions.For example, Norland points out that out-of-the-money (OTM) put options on equity index futures are usually more expensive than OTM call options because investors fear a sudden decline in stock prices more than a sudden rise. However, the reverse is generally true for options on agriculture products because food buyers are more concerned with a sudden increase in the price of crops rather than a decline.
Last year the FX market was highly event driven, with periods of sustained low volatility occasionally punctuated by large but episodic market moves.
Looking ahead to 2017 and there are already clearly some events set to take place that have the potential to drive further bursts of volatility, namely the invocation of Article 50 by Britain to begin its exit from the European Union and the scheduled political elections in France, Holland and Germany.
In addition, the change of policy direction expected under US Presidential-elect, Donald Trump, and the US Federal Reserve’s indication at the end of 2016 that it currently plans to raise rates three times this year are expected to be major drivers of the currency markets in the coming year.