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Arbitrage is a strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of identical or equivalent financial instruments across two or more markets in order to benefit from a discrepancy in their price relationship (e.g., equivalent tools in the cash and futures markets).

In a theoretical "efficient market," there is a lack of opportunity for profitable arbitrage. An efficient market is one in which market prices adjust rapidly to reflect new information. The degree to which the market is efficient depends on the quality of information reflected in market prices. In an efficient market, profitable arbitrage opportunities do not exist and traders cannot expect to consistently outperform the market unless they have lower-cost access to information that is reflected in market prices or unless they have access to information before it is reflected in market prices.

An arbitrageur is an individual or institution that engages in a form of arbitrage.

Merger arbitrage would be that of, for example, in October of 2006 when Chicago Mercantile Exchange (NYSE: CME) proposed a merger with the Chicago Board of Trade (NYSE: BOT). For every 10 shares of CBOT that investors held, the terms of the merger would have given them slightly more than three shares of CME. CBOT's share price rose sharply on the announcement.

To use merger arbitrage for a potential profit, an investor could have bought 10 shares of CBOT and sold short three shares of CME. The short sale would have given the investor a total of $1,536 in proceeds, while buying CBOT shares would only have cost $1,510. If the merger went through, the investor would receive three CME shares, which could be used to cover an earlier short sale.[1]

Statistical Arbitrage[edit]

Statistical arbitrage, also referred to as "stat arb," is a trading strategy that seeks to capitalize on pricing inefficiencies within financial markets, leveraging the power of mathematical models and statistical analysis. This approach is grounded in the belief that asset prices tend to revert to their historical norms or mean values over time. Traders employing statistical arbitrage analyze historical data and use statistical tools to identify deviations from these historical norms. These deviations are seen as potential opportunities to take advantage of short-term price movements. The strategy typically involves simultaneously buying undervalued assets and selling overvalued ones within a particular market or across correlated markets. By exploiting these pricing anomalies, statistical arbitrage aims to generate profits while managing risk through carefully constructed portfolios. This quantitative trading strategy has gained popularity in the world of finance due to its systematic and data-driven nature, providing traders with a methodical approach to navigate the complexities of financial markets.[2][3][4][5]

Fixed-income Arbitrage[edit]

Fixed-income arbitrage is an investment strategy characterized by the identification and exploitation of pricing inefficiencies within the bond market. In this financial approach, investors seek to profit from discrepancies in the valuation of fixed-income securities, such as bonds, by taking advantage of variations in interest rates, credit spreads, or other market factors. Fixed-income arbitrage strategies often involve simultaneously buying and selling related bonds or derivative products to capitalize on these pricing anomalies. By carefully managing the risk associated with different positions, fixed-income arbitrage aims to generate consistent returns, even in volatile market conditions. This strategy requires a deep understanding of financial markets and meticulous analysis to pinpoint opportunities where the perceived value of fixed-income assets differs from their actual worth. As with any arbitrage strategy, fixed-income arbitrage seeks to achieve a balance between risk and reward, making it a popular choice among sophisticated investors and hedge funds in the pursuit of stable and potentially profitable investment returns.[6][7][8][9]

Convertible Arbitrage[edit]

Convertible arbitrage is an investment strategy employed in financial markets that centers on exploiting pricing disparities between convertible securities and their underlying common stocks. Convertible securities are hybrid financial instruments, typically in the form of convertible bonds or preferred stocks, that can be converted into a predetermined number of common shares of the issuing company at a specified conversion price. Convertible arbitrageurs seek to profit from the complex interplay between the value of the convertible security, the underlying stock, and prevailing market conditions. They do so by taking a long position in the convertible security while simultaneously taking a short position in the underlying common stock, aiming to benefit from any discrepancies in their relative prices. This strategy allows investors to potentially profit in various market scenarios, including when the stock price rises, remains stable, or even declines slightly. Convertible arbitrage requires sophisticated analysis and risk management skills, as success hinges on accurately assessing factors like volatility, interest rates, and equity market movements. Consequently, it is a popular choice among hedge funds and professional investors seeking to generate returns while managing risk in dynamic financial markets.[10][11][12]

Merger or Risk Arbitrage[edit]

Merger arbitrage, also known as risk arbitrage, is an investment strategy that seeks to profit from the price movements of companies involved in mergers, acquisitions, or other corporate events. This strategy involves buying shares of a target company that is being acquired and, if applicable, simultaneously short-selling shares of the acquiring company or using other hedging techniques. The goal of merger arbitrage is to capture the spread between the current market price of the target company's shares and the price at which the merger or acquisition is expected to be completed.

Merger arbitrageurs carefully assess the likelihood of a deal's successful completion, as well as the timing and terms of the transaction, to make informed investment decisions. Factors such as regulatory approvals, shareholder votes, financing arrangements, and potential antitrust issues all play a role in the risk assessment. Merger arbitrage is often considered a low-risk strategy when executed correctly, as it aims to generate relatively consistent returns regardless of broader market movements. However, it requires a deep understanding of corporate finance, legal considerations, and deal dynamics, making it a popular choice among institutional investors and hedge funds looking to diversify their portfolios and manage risk while capitalizing on corporate restructuring activities.

Dividend Arbitrage[edit]

Dividend arbitrage is an investment strategy designed to exploit price inefficiencies in the options and stock markets that result from dividend announcements. This strategy involves taking advantage of the price adjustment that occurs when a company declares or pays dividends to its shareholders. Typically, stock prices decline by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date, reflecting the reduction in the company's assets due to the dividend payout.

Dividend arbitrageurs may employ various tactics, such as buying call options or going long on the stock before the ex-dividend date and simultaneously shorting put options or going short on the stock. This combination of positions aims to capture the price change associated with the dividend event while minimizing risk. By skillfully managing these positions, dividend arbitrageurs seek to profit from the spread between the anticipated dividend adjustment and the actual market reaction.

This strategy is often favored by sophisticated investors and hedge funds looking for a way to generate income and hedge their positions while leveraging their understanding of market dynamics surrounding dividend payments. It requires a deep understanding of options pricing and the ability to analyze market sentiment and dividend-related news to make informed investment decisions. However, it also carries inherent risks, as market reactions to dividend announcements can be influenced by a multitude of factors beyond the dividend itself, such as overall market conditions and investor sentiment.

Futures Arbitrage[edit]

Futures arbitrage is a trading strategy employed in financial markets to profit from price discrepancies between related futures contracts. Futures contracts are standardized agreements to buy or sell an underlying asset, such as commodities, currencies, or financial instruments, at a predetermined price and date in the future. Futures arbitrageurs seek to capitalize on the temporary mispricing of these contracts by simultaneously buying and selling them to exploit the price difference.[13]

This strategy comes in several forms, including cash-and-carry arbitrage, calendar spread arbitrage, and intercommodity arbitrage, among others. Cash-and-carry arbitrage involves buying the underlying asset and selling a futures contract, while calendar spread arbitrage focuses on exploiting price differences between futures contracts with different expiration dates. Intercommodity arbitrage, on the other hand, leverages price disparities between related commodities or financial instruments.[14]

Futures arbitrage is predicated on the efficient market hypothesis, which assumes that prices quickly adjust to reflect all available information. Arbitrageurs aim to profit from discrepancies between theoretical and actual prices, but these opportunities are often short-lived and highly competitive. As such, futures arbitrage requires precision, speed, and advanced risk management techniques to ensure profitable execution.