From discrete to continuous time models Some surprising news on an old topic

18 November 2019

We reconsider the approximations of the Black-Scholes model by discrete time models such as the binominal or the trinominal model.

We show that for continuous and bounded claims one may approximate the replication in the Black-Scholes model by trading in the discrete time models. The approximations holds true in measure as well as "with bounded risk", the latter assertion being the delicate issue. The remarkable aspect is that this result does not apply to the well-known binominal model, but to a much wider class of discrete approximating models, including, eg.,the trinominal model. by an example we show that we cannot do the approximation with "vanishing risk".

We apply this result to portfolio optimization and show that, for utility functions with "reasonable asymptotic elasticity" the solution to the discrete time portfolio optimization converge to their continuous limit, again in a wide class of discretizations including the trinominal model. In the absence of "reasonable asymptotic elasticity", however, surprising pathologies may occur.

Joint work with David Kreps (Stanford University)

  • Stochastic Analysis & Mathematical Finance Seminars