5 Options Markets

Options have seen considerable growth since the 1970s and, today, are among the most widely exchanged financial contracts on markets around the world. The basic principles on which options are based are easy to understand. However, the pricing of options is a difficult exercise based on an advanced mathematical corpus. This is why certain technical developments related to this are dicsussed in the Appendix.

5.1. The fundamental concepts

An option is a financial contract that binds the issuer, or writer of the option and the holder of the option, who has acquired the buying rights (option to buy) or the selling rights (option to sell) for certain goods, at a certain date (or over a certain period), at a price fixed in advance. In other words, the holder of an option has the right to buy or sell but has no obligation to exercise this right. When the contract is created, the option writer receives a premium paid by their acquirer. At the time when they commit to an options contract, the role of the seller and the buyer are unambiguous; but, going forward, the buyer may cede their option without, however, becoming the writer. This is why, in the rest of this chapter and in order to remove certain ambiguities, we will talk of “the writer” and not of the “seller”. Similarly, we will talk of the “holder of the option”, rather than “the buyer”. However, the reader must be aware that in other essays and books, these operators are very often called simply “seller” ...

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