Discussion paper

DP7893 Spot and Forward Volatility in Foreign Exchange

This paper investigates the empirical relation between spot and forward implied volatility in foreign exchange. We formulate and test the forward volatility unbiasedness hypothesis, which may be viewed as the volatility analogue to the extensively researched hypothesis of unbiasedness in forward exchange rates. Using a new data set of spot implied volatility quoted on over-the-counter currency options, we compute the forward implied volatility that corresponds to the delivery price of a forward contract on future spot implied volatility. This contract is known as a forward volatility agreement. We ?nd strong evidence that forward implied volatility is a systematically biased predictor that overestimates movements in future spot implied volatility. This bias in forward volatility generates high economic value to an investor exploiting predictability in the returns to volatility speculation and indicates the presence of predictable volatility term premiums in foreign exchange.


Sarno, L, P Della Corte and I Tsiakas (2010), ‘DP7893 Spot and Forward Volatility in Foreign Exchange‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 7893. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp7893