var-swap PnL: %%worked example

 A variance swap lets you bet on “realized” variance. The exchange automatically calculates realized variance for each day, so if you bet the total realized variance over the next 3 days will average to exceed 0.64 [1], then you can buy this contract. If it turns out to be 0.7812, you earn the difference of 0.1412 notional which would mean $141,200 on a million dollar notional.

[1] which means 80% vol (annualized), or roughly 5% daily realized vol (un-annualized)

Standard var swap PnL is defined as

    (sigma_r2 – K) N  ….. …(1)
  N denotes notional amount like $1,000,000
  K denotes strike, which is always in terms of annualized variance

sigma_r is annualized realized Vol over the n days, actually over n-1 price relatives

  sigma_r2 is annualized realized Variance, and calculated as
    252/(n-1)  [  ln2(S2/S1) + ln2(S3/S2)  + … + ln2(Sn/Sn-1)  ]
  S2 denotes the Day 2 closing price.
  ln2(S2/S1) is known as daily realized Variance un-annualized

ln(S2/S1) is known as daily realized Vol un-annualized, or DRVol

In other words, take the n-1 values of ln(PriceRelative) and find the stdev assuming 0 mean, then annualize.

A more intuitive interpretation — take the average of the n-1 daily realized variances, then multiply by 252.

Now, trading often work with DRVol rather than the S2 stuff above, so there’s an equivalent PnL formula to reveal the contribution of “today’s” DRVol to a given var swap position, and also track the cumulative contribution of each day’s DRVol. Formula (1) becomes PnL ==

252N/(n-1)*[ ln2(S2/S1)-K/252 + ln2(S3/S2)-K/252 + .. + ln2(Sn/Sn-1)-K/252 ], or
N/(n-1)*[ 252ln2(S2/S1)-K + 252ln2(S3/S2)-K + .. + 252ln2(Sn/Sn-1)-K ]
  N/(n-1) represents the notional amount allocated to each day.
  252ln2(S2/S1) represents the annualized daily realized Variance on Day 2

√252 ln(S2/S1) represents the annualized DRVol, but is omitted from the formula due to clutter

In other words, for each day get the “spread” of (annualized) DRVar over strike (K), multiply it by the daily notional, and you get a daily PnL “contribution”. Add up the daily to get the total PnL. Here’s an example with daily notional = $4166666 and K = 0.09 i.e. 30% vol

ln PR
sqrt(252) ln PR
spread over K
daily PnL contribution

You can then add up the daily contributions, which would add up to the same total PnL by Formula in (1).


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