Robert Whaley, the Valere Blair Potter Professor of Management and Director of the Financial Markets Research Center at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University

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Today’s derivatives markets – characterized by a vast array of complex OTC products, options with maturities as short as one day, and an ever increasing pool of non-equity ETFs – bear little resemblance to those of the 1970’s. In the earliest days of the listed options market, there were calls but not puts, limited expirations and just a sprinkling of single stock underlyings. It was in this era that Robert Whaley came on the scene and made an immediate impact. Armed with a PhD in finance from the University of Toronto, Professor Whaley quickly dove into the empirical study of derivatives markets, focusing on important topics such as the valuation of American put options, how option markets anticipate quarterly earnings announcements and the impact of program trading on the 1987 stock market crash. It was in 1993 that Professor Whaley published a paper that would fundamentally change the landscape of risk management. His Journal of Derivatives piece “Derivatives on market volatility: Hedging tools long overdue” described a brand new concept that sought to create a standardized metric for the cost of index options. More than 26 years later, the VIX is vastly a part of the language spoken not just by option market participants but by the investment community at large. Now, not merely a calculation, but a tradeable asset used for both speculation and hedging, the VIX index plays an important role in how investors read market risk dynamics and seek to profit from changes in volatility.

Today, Professor Whaley is the Valere Blair Potter Professor of Management and Director of the Financial Markets Research Center at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. I was honored to have the opportunity to speak with Professor Whaley and learn more about his long and successful career in academia, his wide body of financial research and his meaningful perspective on the evolution of the VIX index over the years. Please enjoy this episode of the Alpha Exchange.

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