Valuation and Optimal Exercise of the Wild Card Option in the Treasury Bond Futures Market




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    • School of Management, Boston University. We thank Bob McDonald and Bill Samuelson for helpful discussions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Boston University School of Management.


The Chicago Board of Trade Treasury Bond Futures Contract allows the short position several delivery options as to when and with which bond the contract will be settled. The timing option allows the short position to choose any business day in the delivery month to make delivery. In addition, the contract settlement price is locked in at 2:00 p.m. when the futures market closes, despite the facts that the short position need not declare an intent to settle the contract until 8:00 p.m. and that trading in Treasury bonds can occur all day in dealer markets. If bond prices change significantly between 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., the short has the option of settling the contract at a favorable 2:00 p.m. price. This phenomenon, which recurs on every trading day of the delivery month, creates a sequence of 6-hour put options for the short position which has been dubbed the “wild card option.” This paper presents a valuation model for the wild card option and computes estimates of the value of that option, as well as rules for its optimal exercise.