What Happened To The Quants In August 2007?: Evidence from Factors and Transactions Data2011
During the week of August 6, 2007, a number of quantitative long/short equity hedge funds experienced unprecedented losses. It has been hypothesized that a coordinated deleveraging of similarly constructed portfolios caused this temporary dislocation in the market. Using the simulated returns of long/short equity portfolios based on five specific valuation factors, we find evidence that the unwinding of these portfolios began in July 2007 and continued until the end of 2007. Using transactions data, we find that the simulated returns of a simple market-making strategy were significantly negative during the week of August 6, 2007, but positive before and after, suggesting that the Quant Meltdown of August 2007 was the combined effects of portfolio deleveraging throughout July and the first week of August, and a temporary withdrawal of market-making risk capital starting August 8th. Our simulations point to two unwinds—a mini-unwind on August 1st starting at 10:45am and ending at 11:30am, and a more sustained unwind starting at the open on August 6th and ending at 1:00pm—that began with stocks in the financial sector and long Book-to-Market and short Earnings Momentum. These conjectures have significant implications for the systemic risks posed by the hedge-fund industry.
Illiquidity Premia in Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis of Hedge Funds, Mutual Funds, and US Equity Portfolios2011
We establish a link between illiquidity and positive autocorrelation in asset returns among a sample of hedge funds, mutual funds, and various equity portfolios. For hedge funds, this link can be confirmed by comparing the return autocorrelations of funds with shorter vs. longer redemption-notice periods. We also document significant positive return-autocorrelation in portfolios of securities that are generally considered less liquid, e.g., small-cap stocks, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and emerging-market investments.
Hedge Funds: An Analytic Perspective2010 Revised Edition
The hedge fund industry has grown dramatically over the last two decades, with more than eight thousand funds now controlling close to two trillion dollars. Originally intended for the wealthy, these private investments have now attracted a much broader following that includes pension funds and retail investors. Because hedge funds are largely unregulated and shrouded in secrecy, they have developed a mystique and allure that can beguile even the most experienced investor. In Hedge Funds, Andrew Lo--one of the world's most respected financial economists--addresses the pressing need for a systematic framework for managing hedge fund investments.
The Evolution of Technical Analysis2010
"A movement is over when the news is out," so goes the Wall Street maxim. For thousands of years, technical analysis—marred with common misconceptions likening it to gambling or magic and dismissed by many as "voodoo finance"—has sought methods for spotting trends in what the market's done and what it's going to do. After all, if you don't learn from history, how can you profit from it?
In The Evolution of Technical Analysis, the director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering, Andrew Lo, and coauthor Jasmina Hasanhodzic present an engaging account of the origins and development of this mysterious "black art," tracing its evolution from ancient Babylon to the rise of Wall Street as the world's financial center. Along the way, the practices of Eastern technical analysts like Munehisa Homma ("the god of the markets") are compared and contrasted with those of their Western counterparts, such as Humphrey Neill, William Gann, and Charles Dow ("the father of technical analysis").
With deep roots in antiquity, technical analysis is part art and part science, seeking to divine trends, reversals, cycles, and other predictable patterns in historical market prices. While the techniques for capturing such regularities have evolved considerably over the centuries, the all-too-human predilection to extrapolate into the future using the past has been a constant driving force throughout history.
The authors chronicle the fascinating and unexpected path of charting that likely began with simple superstitions and coincidences, and has developed into widespread practices in many markets and instruments, involving sophisticated computational algorithms and visualization techniques. The Evolution of Technical Analysis is the story of how some early technicians failed miserably, how others succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and what it means for traders today.
Stock Market Trading Volume2010
Trading volume is an important aspect of the economic interactions in financial markets among various investors. Both volume and prices are driven by underlying economic forces, and thus convey important information about the workings of the market. This chapter focuses on the empirical characteristics of prices and volume in stock markets. The interactions between prices and quantities in an equilibrium yield a rich set of implications for any asset pricing model, when an explicit link between economic fundamentals and the dynamic properties of asset returns and volume are derived. By exploiting the relation between prices and volume in the dynamic equilibrium model, one can identify and construct the hedging portfolio, which can be used by all investors to hedge against changes in market conditions. This hedging portfolio has considerable forecast power in predicting future returns of the market portfolio and its abilities to explain cross-sectional variation in expected returns is comparable to other popular risk factors such as market betas, the Fama and French SMB factor, and optimal forecast portfolios. The presence of market frictions, such as transactions costs, can influence the level of trading volume and serve as a bridge between the market microstructure literature and the broader equilibrium asset pricing literature.
A key result of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is that the market portfolio—the portfolio of all assets in which each asset's weight is proportional to its total market capitalization—lies on the mean-variance-efficient frontier, the set of portfolios having mean-variance characteristics that cannot be improved upon. Therefore, the CAPM cannot be consistent with efficient frontiers for which every frontier portfolio has at least one negative weight or short position. We call such efficient frontiers 'impossible', and show that impossible frontiers are difficult to avoid. In particular, as the number of assets, n, grows, we prove that the probability that a generically chosen frontier is impossible tends to one at a geometric rate. In fact, for one natural class of distributions, nearly one-eighth of all assets on a frontier is expected to have negative weights for every portfolio on the frontier. We also show that the expected minimum amount of shortselling across frontier portfolios grows linearly with n, and even when shortsales are constrained to some finite level, an impossible frontier remains impossible. Using daily and monthly U.S. stock returns, we document the impossibility of efficient frontiers in the data.
The Heretics of Finance2009
The Heretics of Finance provides extraordinary insight into both the art of technical analysis and the character of the successful trader. Distinguished MIT professor Andrew W. Lo and researcher Jasmina Hasanhodzic interviewed thirteen highly successful, award-winning market professionals who credit their substantial achievements to technical analysis. The result is the story of technical analysis in the words of the people who know it best; the lively and candid interviews with these gurus of technical analysis.
The first half of the book focuses on the technicians' careers:
- How and why they learned technical analysis
- What market conditions increase their chances of making mistakes
- What their average workday is like
- To what extent trading controls their lives
- Whether they work on their own or with a team
- How their style of technical analysis is unique
The second half concentrates on technical analysis and addresses questions such as these:
- Did the lack of validation by academics ever cause you to doubt technical analysis?
- Can technical analysis be applied to other disciplines?
- How do you prove the validity of the method?
- How has computer software influenced the craft?
- What is the role of luck in technical analysis?
- Are there laws that underlie market action?
- What traits characterize a highly successful trader?
- How you test patterns before you start using them with real money?
Ralph J. Acampora, Laszlo Birinyi, Walter Deemer, Paul Desmond, Gail Dudack, Robert J. Farrell, Ian McAvity, John Murphy, Robert Prechter, Linda Raschke, Alan R. Shaw, Anthony Tabell, Stan Weinstein.
Regulatory Reform in the Wake of the Financial Crisis of 2007‐20082009
This document is the revised written testimony titled "Hedge Funds, Systemic Risk, and the Financial Crisis of 2007–2008" submitted to the US House of Representatives Oversight Committee for its hearing on hedge funds and the financial market, held November 13, 2008, and is not a formal academic research paper, but is intended for a broader audience of policymakers and regulators. Academic readers may be alarmed by the lack of comprehensive citations and literature review, the imprecise and qualitative nature of certain arguments, and the abundance of illustrative examples, analogies, and metaphors. Accordingly, such readers are hereby forewarned—this paper is not research but is instead a summary of the policy implications that I have drawn from my interpretation of that research.
I begin with a proposal to measure systemic risk and argue that this is the natural starting point for regulatory reform since it is impossible to manage something that cannot be measured. Then I review the relation between systemic risk and hedge funds, and show that early warning signs of the current crisis did exist in the hedge-fund industry as far back as 2004. However, I argue that financial crises may be an unavoidable aspect of human behavior, and the best we can do is acknowledge this tendency and be properly prepared. This behavioral pattern, as well as traditional economic motives for regulation—public goods, externalities, and incomplete markets—are relevant for systemic risk or its converse, 'systemic safety', and I suggest applying these concepts to the functions of the financial system to yield a rational process for regulatory reform. Also, I propose the formation of a new investigative office patterned after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to provide the kind of information aggregation and transparency that is called for in the previous sections. Another aspect of transparency involves fair-value accounting, and I review some of the recent arguments for its suspension and propose developing a new branch of accounting focusing exclusively on risk. I conclude with a discussion of the role of financial technology and education in the current crisis, and argue that more finance training is needed, not less.
Jumping the Gates: Using Beta-Overlay Strategies to Hedge Liquidity Constraints2009
In response to the current financial crisis, a number of hedge funds have implemented "gates" on their funds that restrict withdrawals when the sum of redemption requests exceeds a certain percentage of the fund's total assets. To reduce the investor's risk exposures during these periods, we propose a futures overlay strategy designed to hedge out or control the common factor exposures of gated assets. By taking countervailing positions in stock, bond, currency, and commodity exposures, an investor can greatly reduce the systematic risks of their gated assets while still enjoying the benefits of manager-specific alpha. Such overlay strategies can also be used to reposition the betas of an investor's entire portfolio, effectively rebalancing asset-class exposures without having to trade the less liquid underlying assets during periods of market dislocation. To illustrate the costs and benefits of such overlay, we simulate the impact of a simple beta-hedging strategy applied to long/short equity hedge funds in the TASS database.
Where Do Alphas Come From?: A New Measure of the Value of Active Investment Management2008
The value of active investment management is traditionally measured by alpha, beta, tracking error, and the Sharpe and information ratios. These are essentially static characteristics of the marginal distributions of returns at a single point in time, and do not incorporate dynamic aspects of a manager's investment process. In this paper, I propose a new measure of the value of active investment management that captures both static and dynamic contributions of a portfolio manager's decisions. The measure is based on a decomposition of a portfolio's expected return into two distinct components: a static weighted-average of the individual securities' expected returns, and the sum of covariances between returns and portfolio weights. The former component measures the portion of the manager's expected return due to static investments in the underlying securities, while the latter component captures the forecast power implicit in the manager's dynamic investment choices. This measure can be computed for long-only investments, long/short portfolios, and asset allocation rules, and is particularly relevant for hedge-fund strategies where both components are significant contributors to their expected returns, but only one should garner the high fees that hedge funds typically charge. Several analytical and empirical examples are provided to illustrate the practical relevance of these new measures.