August 1991

Anticipations of Foreign Exchange Volatility and Bid-Ask Spreads

Shang-Jin Wei


The paper studies the effect of the market's perceived exchange rate volatility on bid-ask spreads. The anticipated volatility is extracted from currency options data. An increase in the perceived volatility is found to widen bid-ask spreads. The direction of the effect is consistent with an option model of the spread, but the magnitude is smaller. An increase in trading volume of spot exchange rates also widens the spread. The omission of the trading volume, however, does not bias the estimate of the effect of the volatility on the spreads. Although the spread-volatility relations implied by the option model of the spread is close to linear, some form of nonlinearity can still be detected from the data.

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Last Update: March 05, 2021