Three Insights from Academic Research Related to Momentum Strategy Thursday, 4 April, 2019

What are the main insights?

- momentum is not an anomaly in a risk-based asset pricing framework. Riskier assets tend to be in the loser portfolios after (large) increases in the price of risk. The risk of momentum portfolios usually decreases with the prevailing price of risk, and their risk premiums are approximately negative quadratic functions of the price of risk (and the market premium) theoretically truncated at zero.

- changes to market liquidity adds to the explanation of momentum crashes along with the market rebounds, this relationship is driven by the asymmetric large return sensitivity of short-leg of momentum portfolio to changes in market liquidity that flares the tail risk of momentum strategy in panic states

- momentum returns are highly related to market risk arising from return dispersion (RD) as momentum risk loadings and RD risk loadings are similarly priced in momentum portfolios

1/

Author: Souza

Title: A Critique of Momentum Anomalies

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3341275

Abstract:

This paper offers theoretical, empirical, and simulated evidence that momentum regularities in asset prices are not anomalies. Within a general, frictionless, rational expectations, risk-based asset pricing framework, riskier assets tend to be in the loser portfolios after (large) increases in the price of risk. Hence, the risk of momentum portfolios usually decreases with the prevailing price of risk, and their risk premiums are approximately negative quadratic functions of the price of risk (and the market premium) theoretically truncated at zero. The best linear (CAPM) function describing this relation unconditionally has exactly the negative slope and positive intercept documented empirically.

2/

Authors: Butt, Virk

Title: Momentum Crashes and Variations to Market Liquidity

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3314095

Abstract:

We document that the variation in market liquidity is an important determinant of momentum crashes that is independent of other known explanations surfaced on this topic. This relationship is driven by the asymmetric large return sensitivity of short-leg of momentum portfolio to changes in market liquidity that flares the tail risk of momentum strategy in panic states. This identification explains the forecasting ability of known predictors of tail risk of momentum strategy such that the contemporaneous increase in market liquidity predominantly sums up the trademark negative relationship between predictors and future momentum returns. Our results are robust using a different momentum portfolio and alternative measures of market liquidity that make a substantial part of the common source of variation in aggregate liquidity.

3/

Authors: Kolari, Liu

Title: Market Risk and the Momentum Mystery

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3280559

Abstract:

This paper employs the ZCAPM asset pricing model of Liu, Kolari, and Huang (2018) to show that momentum returns are highly related to market risk arising from return dispersion (RD). Cross-sectional tests show that momentum risk loadings and RD risk loadings are similarly priced in momentum portfolios. Comparative analyses find that zero-investment momentum portfolios and zero-investment return dispersion portfolios earn high returns relative to other risk factors. Further regression tests indicate that zero-investment momentum returns are very significantly related to zero-investment return dispersion returns. We conclude that the momentum mystery is explained by market risk associated with return dispersion for the most part.


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Three Insights from Academic Research Related to Carry Trade Strategy Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

What are the main insights?

- carry trade profitbility depends on the positive order-flow of sophisticated financial customers (hedge funds and asset managers)

- carry trade strategy is profitable, but it is hard to pick correct trading rules ex-ante

- future alpha of a high interest rate currency carry portfolio increases in a trough in a business cycle and in a state of high market uncertainty

1/

Authors: Burnside, Cerrato, Zhang

Title: Foreign Exchange Order Flow as a Risk Factor

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3275356

Abstract:

This paper proposes a set of novel pricing factors for currency returns that are motivated by microstructure models. In so doing, we bring two strands of the exchange rate literature, namely market-microstructure and risk-based models, closer together. Our novel factors use order flow data to provide direct measures of buying and selling pressure related to carry trading and momentum strategies. We find that they appear to be good proxies for currency crash risk. Additionally, we show that the association between our order-flow factors and currency returns differs according to the customer segment of the foreign exchange market. In particular, it appears that financial customers are risk takers in the market, while non-financial customers serve as liquidity providers.

2/

Authors: Hsu, Taylor, Wang

Title: The Profitability of Carry Trades: Reality or Illusion?

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3158101

Abstract:

We carry out a large-scale investigation of the profitability of carry trades, using foreign exchange data for 48 countries spanning a period from 1983 to 2016 and employing a stepwise test to counter data-snooping bias. We find that, while we can confirm previous findings that the carry trade is profitable over this long period when a specific carry-trade strategy is selected based on the whole data set, even after controlling for data snooping, when we split the sample into sub-periods, the best carry-trade strategy in one sub-period is generally not profitable in the next sub-period. This finding holds true even when we include learning strategies and stop-loss strategies. Our findings thus highlight the instability of carry trades over long periods and their limitation in the sense that it is hard to predict their performance based on several years of data and therefore to choose a profitable carry-trade strategy ex ante.

3/

Author: Sakemoto

Title: Currency Carry Trades and the Conditional Factor Model

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3210768

Abstract:

This study employs a conditional factor model in order to investigate the time-varying profitability of currency carry trades. To that end, I estimate conditional alphas and betas on the popular dollar and carry factors through the use of a nonparametric approach. The empirical results illustrate that the alphas and betas vary over time. Furthermore, I find that the alpha of a high interest rate currency portfolio increases in a trough in a business cycle and in a state of high market uncertainty. However, the beta on the dollar factor decreases in these market conditions, suggesting that investors reduce the foreign currency risk exposure.


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A New Look on Shiller's CAPE Ratio Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Robert Shiller and Farouk Jivraj discuss a validity of methodology for Campbell &Shiller's CAPE ratio calculation, share their opinion on future returns of US equities and give few novel ideas for CAPE's usage for asset allocation and country and sector picking:

Authors: Jivraj, Shiller

Title: The Many Colours of CAPE

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3258404

Abstract:

Campbell & Shiller's [1988] Cyclically-Adjusted Price to Earnings ratio (CAPE) has both its advocates and critics. Currently, the debate is on the validity of the high CAPE ratio for US stock markets in forecasting lower future returns, with CAPE currently at 31.21. We investigate the efficacy and validity of CAPE from several different perspectives. First, we run multiple-horizon predictability regressions for CAPE versus its peers and find that CAPE consistently displays economic and statistical significance far better than any of its peers. Second, we explore alternative constructions of CAPE based on other proxies for earnings motivated by the work of findings by Siegel [2016] using NIPA profits. We find that original CAPE is still best when comprehensively and fairly reviewing the other proxies, even for NIPA profits. Third, we assess how to practically use CAPE in both an asset allocation and relative valuation setting. We demonstrate a novel use of CAPE for asset allocation programmes as well as discuss relative valuation exercises for country, sector and single stock rotation.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"Campbell & Shiller's Cyclically-Adjusted Price to Earnings ratio (CAPE), is a well known to characterize the strong relationship between an inflation adjusted earnings-to-price ratio and subsequent longterm returns. As a result, it has now become an often cited measure of equity market valuation. With such a status, the current value of CAPE, 31.12 (as in 10/2017), is causing concern amongst investors and spurring debate among academics - it is currently in 96th percentile compared to its own history since 1881. Thus, the question of whether the US stock market is overpriced, is being hotly contested and CAPE is at the centre of this debate.

CAPE

Table 2 shows, that historically, at such a starting level, by deciles, we're in the worst possible bucket where on average subsequent annualised real returns over next ten years were a mere 0.9%, with the best case being a not bad 5.8% but the worst case being a very bad -6.1%

Table of CAPE ratio

Critics mainly focus on ways to claim that the observed CAPE ratios are too high and not valid for reasons such as statistical significance and/or changing accounting standard over the years.

Siegel (2016) proposed an alternative of National Income and Product Account (NIPA) corporate profits from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to be used in context of correcting the bias in CAPE. We therefore look closely at these claims but also compliment this alternative CAPE constrution using NIPA profits, with version using operating earnings, cash flow, sales and book value as other earnings related proxies.

Figures 4 to 6 report R^2 and averaged t-statistics for our predictability regressions. They should be reviews in tandem. Figure 4 demonstrates the ability of CAPE in forecasting returns better then E/P, NIPA/P and D/P at shorter horizons. E/P and NIPA/P eventually catch up and significantly so, as confirmed by their t-statistics in Figure 6. However it is clear, that CAPE is able to consistently predict subsequent returns significantly so from a 1Y horizon onwards.

Figure 6 perfectly highlights the small sample bias in long horizon regressions when comparing the R^2s of B/P, CF/P and S/P with those in figure 5. Whilst the R^2s may appear higher, especially at the longest horizons, Figure 6 shows that past a 5Y horizon, S/P is the only variable that is consistently significant.

 

R^2 of CAPE

R^2 of other ratios

t-stat of CAPE ratios

"


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Better Rebalancing Strategy for Static Asset Allocation Strategies Wednesday, 13 March, 2019

An interesting financial academic paper which analyzes an alternative approach to rebalancing of static asset allocation strategies:

Authors: Granger, Harvey, Rattray, Van Hemert

Title: Strategic Rebalancing

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3330134

Abstract:

A mechanical rebalancing strategy, such as a monthly or quarterly reallocation towards fixed portfolio weights, is an active strategy. Winning asset classes are sold and losers are bought. During crises, when markets are often trending, this can lead to substantially larger drawdowns than a buy-and-hold strategy. Our paper shows that the negative convexity induced by rebalancing can be substantially mitigated, taking the popular 60-40 stock-bond portfolio as our use case. One alternative is an allocation to a trend-following strategy. The positive convexity of this overlay tends to counter the impact on drawdowns of the mechanical rebalancing strategy. The second alternative we call strategic rebalancing, which uses smart rebalancing timing based on trend-following signals – without a direct allocation to a trend-following strategy. For example, if the trend-following model suggests that stock markets are in a negative trend, rebalancing is delayed.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"A pure buy-and-hold portfolio has the drawback that the asset mix tends to drift over time and, as such, is untenable for investors who seek diversification. However, a stock-bond portfolio that regularly rebalances tends to underperform a buy-and-hold portfolio at times of continued outperformance of one of the assets. Using a simple two-period model, we explain the main intuition behind this effect: rebalancing means selling (relative) winners, and if winners continue to outperform, that detracts from performance.

As stocks typically have more volatile returns than bonds, relative returns tend to be driven by stocks. Hence, of particular interest are episodes with continued negative (absolute and relative) stock performance, such as the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. In Figure 2, we contrast the monthly-rebalanced and buy-and-hold cumulative performance over the financial crisis period, where both start with an initial 60-40 stock-bond capital allocation. The maximum drawdown of the monthly-rebalanced portfolio is 1.2 times (or 5 percentage points) worse than that of the buy-and-hold portfolio, right at the time when financial markets turmoil is greatest.

Rebalanced and not rebalanced portfolio

In earlier work, Granger et al. (2014) formally show that rebalancing is similar to starting with a buy-and-hold portfolio and adding a short straddle (selling both a call and a put option) on the relative value of the portfolio assets. The option-like payoff to rebalancing induces negative convexity by magnifying drawdowns when there are pronounced divergences in asset returns. We show that time-series momentum (or trend) strategies, applied to futures on the same stock and bond markets, are natural complements to a rebalanced portfolio. This is because the trend payoff tends to mimic that of a long straddle option position, or exhibits positive convexity.

Trend exposure and portfolio drawdown

We evaluate how 1-, 3-, and 12-month trend strategies perform during the five worst drawdowns for the 60-40 stock-bond portfolio. Allocating 10% to a trend strategy and 90% to a 60-40 monthly-rebalanced portfolio improves the average drawdown by about 5 percentage points, compared to a 100% allocation to a 60-40 monthly rebalanced portfolio. The trend allocation has no adverse impact on the average return over our sample period. That is, while one would normally expect a drag on the overall (long-term) performance when allocating to a defensive strategy, in our sample, the trend-following premium earned offsets the cost (or insurance premium) paid.

An alternative to a trend allocation is strategically timing and sizing rebalancing trades, which we label strategic rebalancing. We first consider a range of popular heuristic rules, varying the rebalancing frequency, using thresholds, and trading only partially back to the 60-40 asset mix. Such heuristic rules reduce the average maximum drawdown level for the five crises considered by up to 1 percentage point. However, using strategic rebalancing rules based on either the past stock or past stock-bond relative returns gives improvements of 2 to 3 percentage points."


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Two Centuries of Global Factor Premiums Thursday, 7 March, 2019

Related to all major factor strategies (trend, momentum, value, carry, seasonality and low beta/volatility):

Authors: Baltussen, Swinkels, van Vliet

Title: Global Factor Premiums

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3325720

Abstract:

We examine 24 global factor premiums across the main asset classes via replication and new-sample evidence spanning more than 200 years of data. Replication yields ambiguous evidence within a unified testing framework with methods that account for p-hacking. The new-sample evidence reveals that the large majority of global factors are strongly present under conservative p-hacking perspectives, with limited out-of-sample decay of the premiums. Further, utilizing our deep sample, we find global factor premiums to be not driven by market, downside, or macroeconomic risks. These results reveal strong global factor premiums that present a challenge to asset pricing theories.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"In this paper we study global factors premiums over a long and wide sample spanning the recent 217 years across equity index (but not single securities), bond, currency, and commodity markets.

The first objective of this study is to robustly and rigorously examine these global factor premiums from the perspective of ‘p-hacking’.

We take as our starting point the main global return factors published in the Journal of Finance and the Journal of Financial Economics during the period 2012-2018: time-series momentum (henceforth ‘trend’), cross-sectional momentum (henceforth ‘momentum’), value, carry, return seasonality and betting-against-beta (henceforth ‘BAB’). We examine these global factors in four major asset classes: equity indices, government bonds, commodities and currencies, hence resulting in a total of 24 global return factors.4

We work from the idea that these published factor premiums could be influenced by p-hacking and that an extended sample period is useful for falsification or verification tests. Figure 1, Panel A summarizes the main results of these studies.

Global factor strategies

Shown are the reported Sharpe ratio’s in previous publications, as well as the 5% significance cutoff in the grey-colored dashed line. In general, the studies show evidence on the global factor premiums, with 14 of the 22 factors (return seasonality is not tested in bonds and currencies) displaying significant Sharpe ratio’s at the conventional 5% significance level.

Global factor strategies 1981-20111

Further, most of the studies have differences in, amongst others, testing methodologies, investment universes and sample periods, choices that introduce degrees of freedom to the researcher. To mitigate the impact of such degrees of freedom, we reexamine the global return factors using uniform choices on testing methodology and investment universe over their average sample period (1981-2011). Figure 1, Panel B shows the results of this replicating exercise. We find that Sharpe ratios are marginally lower, with 12 of the 24 factor premiums being significant at the conventional 5% level.

Global factor strategies 1981-2011


The second objective of this study is to provide rigorous new sample evidence on the global return factors. To this end, we construct a deep, largely uncovered historical global database on the global return factors in the four major asset classes. This data consists of pre-sample data spanning the period 1800- 1980, supplemented with post-sample data from 2012-2016, such that we have an extensive new sample to conduct further analyses. If the global return factors were unintentionally the result of p-hacking, we would expect them to disappear for this new sample period.

Our new sample findings reveal consistent and ubiquitous evidence for the large majority of global return factors. Figure 1, Panel C summarizes our main findings by depicting the historical Sharpe ratio’s in the new sample period. In terms of economic significance, the Sharpe ratios are substantial, with an average of 0.41. Remarkably, in contrast to most out-of-sample studies we see very limited ‘out-of-sample’ decay of factor premiums.

In terms of statistical significance and p-hacking perspectives, 19 of the 24 t-values are above 3.0,19 Bayesian p-values are below 5%, and the break-even prior odds generally need to be above 9,999 to have less than 5% probability that the null hypothesis is true."


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