June 1996

The Sovereignty Option: The Quebec Referendum and Market Views on the Canadian Dollar

Michael P. Leahy and Charles P. Thomas


We use exchange traded options on Canadian dollar futures to estimate the market's risk-neutral distribution for the Canadian dollar in the days before and after the Quebec sovereignty referendum. We employ a relatively new technique that places little a priori structure on the estimated distribution. This lack of structure allows the estimated distribution to reflect the multi-modal nature of expectations associated with the referendum's results. The technique is especially suited to circumstances in which a particular event will reduce a large degree of uncertainty prior to the expiration date of the options. Our estimated distributions are consistent with a significant perceived probability that the Canadian dollar would move up or down by as much as 5 percent as a result of the vote.

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Last Update: February 19, 2021