Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Applied Mathematics


Matt Davison


We present three interesting applications of stochastic control in finance. The first is a real option model that considers the optimal entry into and subsequent operation of a biofuel production facility. We derive the associated Hamilton Jacobi Bellman (HJB) equation for the entry and operating decisions along with the econometric analysis of the stochastic price inputs. We follow with a Monte Carlo analysis of the risk profile for the facility. The second application expands on the analysis of the biofuel facility to account for the associated regulatory and taxation uncertainty experienced by players in the renewables and energy industries. A federal biofuel production subsidy per gallon has been available to producers for many years but the subsidy price level has changed repeatedly. We model this uncertain price as a jump process. We present and solve the HJB equations for the associated multidimensional jump diffusion problem which also addresses the model uncertainty pervasive in real option problems such as these. The novel real option framework we present has many applications for industry practitioners and policy makers dealing with country risk or regulatory uncertainty---which is a very real problem in our current global environment. Our final application (which, although apparently different from the first two applications, uses the same tools) addresses the problem of producing reliable bid-ask spreads for derivatives in illiquid markets. We focus on the hedging of over the counter (OTC) equity derivatives where the underlying assets realistically have transaction costs and possible illiquidity which standard finance models such as Black-Scholes neglect. We present a model for hedging under market impact (such as bid-ask spreads, order book depth, liquidity) using temporary and permanent equity price impact functions and derive the associated HJB equations for the problem. This model transitions from continuous to impulse trading (control) with the introduction of fixed trading costs. We then price and hedge via the economically sound framework of utility indifference pricing. The problem of hedging under liquidity impact is an on-going concern of market makers following the Global Financial Crisis.