The Sources and Nature of Long-Term Dependence in the Business Cycle
with Joseph Haubrich, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Review 37 (2001), 15–30.
This paper examines the stochastic properties of aggregate macroeconomic time series from the standpoint of fractionally integrated models, and focuses on the persistence of economic shocks. We develop a simple macroeconomic model that exhibits long-term dependence, a consequence of aggregation in the presence of real business cycles. We derive the relation between properties of fractionally integrated macroeconomic time series and those of microeconomic data, and discuss how fiscal policy may alter their stochastic behavior. To implement these results empirically, we employ a test for fractionally integrated time series based on the Hurst-Mandelbrot rescaled range. This test is robust to short-term dependence, and is applied to quarterly and annual real GNP to determine the sources and nature of long-term dependence in the business cycle.
Hedging Derivative Securities and Incomplete Markets: An Epsilon-Arbitrage Approach
with Dimitris Bertsimas and Leonid Kogan, Operations Research 49 (2001), 372–397.
Given a European derivative security with an arbitrary payoff function and a corresponding set of underlying securities on which the derivative security is based, we solve the dynamic replication problem: find a self-financing dynamic portfolio strategy—involving only the underlying securities—that most closely approximates the payoff function at maturity. By applying stochastic dynamic programming to the minimization of a mean-squared-error loss function under Markov state-dynamics, we derive recursive expressions for the optimal-replication strategy that are readily implemented in practice. The approximation error or "epsilon" of the optimal-replication strategy is also given recursively and may be used to quantify the "degree" of market incompleteness. To investigate the practical significance of these epsilon-arbitrage strategies, we consider several numerical examples including path-dependent options and options on assets with stochastic volatility and jumps.
Computational Challenges in Portfolio Management
with Martin Haugh, Computing in Science & Engineering 3 (2001), 54–59.
The financial industry is one of the fastest-growing areas of scientific computing. Two decades ago, terms such as financial engineering, computational finance, and financial mathematics did not exist in common usage. Today, these areas are distinct and enormously popular academic disciplines with their own journals, conferences, and professional societies. One explanation for this area’s remarkable growth and the impressive array of mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, and economists that are drawn to it is the formidable intellectual challenges intrinsic to financial markets. Many of the most basic problems in financial analysis are unsolved and surprisingly resilient to the onslaught of researchers from diverse disciplines. In this article, we hope to give a sense of these challenges by describing a relatively simple problem that all investors face when managing a portfolio of financial securities over time. Such a problem becomes more complex once real-world considerations factor into its formulation. We present the basic dynamic portfolio optimization problem and then consider three aspects of it: taxes, investor preferences, and portfolio constraints. These three issues are by no means exhaustive—they merely illustrate examples of the kinds of challenges financial engineers face today. Examples of other computational issues in portfolio optimization appear elsewhere.
Asset Allocation and Derivatives
with Martin Haugh, Quantitative Finance 1 (2001), 45–72.
The fact that derivative securities are equivalent to specific dynamic trading strategies in complete markets suggests the possibility of constructing buy-and-hold portfolios of options that mimic certain dynamic investment policies, e.g., asset-allocation rules. We explore this possibility by solving the following problem: given an optimal dynamic investment policy, find a set of options at the start of the investment horizon which will come closest to the optimal dynamic investment policy. We solve this problem for several combinations of preferences, return dynamics, and optimality criteria, and show that under certain conditions, a portfolio consisting of just a few options is an excellent substitute for considerably more complex dynamic investment policies.
Foundations of Technical Analysis: Computational Algorithms, Statistical Inference, and Empirical Implementation
with Harry Mamaysky and Jiang Wang, Journal of Finance 55 (2000), 1705–1765.
Technical analysis, also known as "charting,'' has been a part of financial practice for many decades, but this discipline has not received the same level of academic scrutiny and acceptance as more traditional approaches such as fundamental analysis. One of the main obstacles is the highly subjective nature of technical analysis—the presence of geometric shapes in historical price charts is often in the eyes of the beholder. In this paper, we propose a systematic and automatic approach to technical pattern recognition using nonparametric kernel regression, and apply this method to a large number of U.S. stocks from 1962 to 1996 to evaluate the effectiveness of technical analysis. By comparing the unconditional empirical distribution of daily stock returns to the conditional distribution—conditioned on specific technical indicators such as head-and-shoulders or double-bottoms—we find that over the 31-year sample period, several technical indicators do provide incremental information and may have some practical value.
Finance: A Selective Survey
Journal of the American Statistical Association 95 (2000), 629-635.
Ever since the publication in 1565 of Girolamo Cardano's treatise on gambling, Liber de Ludo Aleae (The Book of Games of Chance), statistics and financial markets have become inextricably linked. Over the past few decades many of these links have become part of the canon of modern finance, and it is now impossible to fully appreciate the workings of financial markets without them. This selective survey covers three of the most important ideas of finance—efficient markets, the random walk hypothesis, and derivative pricing models—that illustrate the enormous research opportunities that lie at the intersection of finance and statistics.
When Is Time Continuous?
with Dimitris Bertsimas and Leonid Kogan, Journal of Financial Economics 55 (2000), 173–204.
In this paper we study the tracking error resulting from the discrete-time application of continuous-time delta-hedging procedures for European options. We characterize the asymptotic distribution of the tracking error as the number of discrete time periods increases, and its joint distribution with other assets. We introduce the notion of temporal granularity of the continuous-time stochastic model that enables us to characterize the degree to which discrete-time approximations of continuous time models track the payoff of the option. We derive closed form expressions for the granularity for a put and call option on a stock that follows a geometric Brownian motion and a mean-reverting process. These expressions offer insight into the tracking error involved in applying continuous-time delta-hedging in discrete time. We also introduce alternative measures of the tracking error and analyze their properties.
Trading Volume: Definitions, Data Analysis, and Implications of Portfolio Theory
with Jiang Wang, Review of Financial Studies 13 (2000), 257–300.
We examine the implications of portfolio theory for the cross-sectional behavior of equity trading volume. We begin by showing that a two-fund separation theorem suggests a natural definition for trading volume: share turnover. If two-fund separation holds, share turnover must be identical for all securities. If (K+1)-fund separation holds, we show that share turnover satisfies and approximate linear K-factor structure, These implications are empirically tested using weekly turnover data for NYSE and AMEX securities from 1962 to 1996. We find strong evidence against two-fund separation and an eigenvalue decomposition suggests that volume is driven by a two-factor linear model.
Optimal Control of Execution Costs for Portfolios
with Dimitris Bertsimas and Paul Hummel, Computing in Science & Engineering 1 (2000), 40–53.
The dramatic growth in institutionally managed assets, coupled with the advent of internet trading and electronic brokerage for retail investors, has led to a surge in the size and volume of trading. At the same time, competition in the asset management industry has increased to the point where fractions of a percent in performance can separate the top funds from those in the next tier. In this environment, portfolio managers have begun to explore active management of trading costs as a means of boosting returns. Controlling execution cost can be viewed as a stochastic dynamic optimization problem because trading takes time, stock prices exhibit random fluctuations, and execution prices depend on trade size, order flow, and market conditions. In this paper, we apply stochastic dynamic programming to derive trading strategies that minimize the expected cost of executing a portfolio of securities over a fixed period of time, i.e., we derive the optimal sequence of trades as a function of prices, quantitites, and other market conditions. To illustrate the practical relevance of our methods, we apply them to a hypothetical portfolio of 25 stocks by estimating their price-impact functions using historical trade data from 1996 and deriving the optimal execution strategies. We also perform several Monte Carlo simulation experiments to compare the performance of the optimal strategy to several alternatives.
An Econometric Model of Serial Correlation and Illiquidity in Hedge-Fund Returns
with Mila Getmansky and Igor Makarov, Journal of Financial Economics 74 (2004), 529–609.
The returns to hedge funds and other alternative investments are often highly serially correlated in sharp contrast to the returns of more traditional investment vehicles such as long-only equity portfolios and mutual funds. In this paper, we explore several sources of such serial correlation and show that the most likely explanation is illiquidity exposure, i.e., investments in securities that are not actively traded and for which market prices are not always readily available. For portfolios of illiquid securities, reported returns will tend to be smoother than true economic returns, which will understate volatility and increase risk-adjusted performance measures such as the Sharpe ratio. We propose an econometric model of illiquidity exposure and develop estimators for the smoothing profile as well as a smoothing-adjusted Sharpe ratio. For a sample of 908 hedge funds drawn from the TASS database, we show that our estimated smoothing coefficients vary considerably across hedge-fund style categories and may be a useful proxy for quantifying illiquidity exposure.