Value

Factor Investing in Currency Markets

26.July 2019

A new research paper related to multiple currency strategies:

#5 – FX Carry Trade
#8 – Currency Momentum Factor
#9 – Currency Value Factor – PPP Strategy

Authors: Baku, Fortes, Herve, Lezmi, Malongo, Roncalli, Xu

Title: Factor Investing in Currency Markets: Does it Make Sense?

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3415700

Abstract:

The concept of factor investing emerged at the end of the 2000s and has completely changed the landscape of equity investing. Today, institutional investors structure their strategic asset allocation around five risk factors: size, value, low beta, momentum and quality. This approach has been extended to multi-asset portfolios and is known as the alternative risk premia model. This framework recognizes that the construction of diversified portfolios cannot only be reduced to the allocation policy between asset classes, such as stocks and bonds. Indeed, diversification is multifaceted and must also consider alternative risk factors. More recently, factor investing has gained popularity in the fixed income universe, even though the use of risk factors is an old topic for modeling the yield curve and pricing interest rate contingent claims. Factor investing is now implemented for managing portfolios of corporate bonds or emerging bonds.

In this paper, we focus on currency markets. The dynamics of foreign exchange rates are generally explained by several theoretical economic models that are commonly presented as competing approaches. In our opinion, they are more complementary and they can be the backbone of a Fama-French-Carhart risk factor model for currencies. In particular, we show that these risk factors
may explain a significant part of time-series and cross-section returns in foreign exchange markets. Therefore, this result helps us to better understand the management of forex portfolios. To illustrate this point, we provide some applications concerning basket hedging, overlay management and the construction of alpha strategies.

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"In this paper, we propose analyzing foreign exchange rates using three main risk factors: carry, value and momentum. The choice of these market risk factors is driven by the economic models of foreign exchange rates. For instance, the carry risk factor is based on the uncovered interest rate parity, the value risk factor is derived from equilibrium models of the real exchange rate, and the momentum risk factor bene fits from the importance of technical analysis, trading behavior and overreaction/underreaction patterns. Moreover, analyzing an asset using these three dimensions helps to better characterize the fi nancial patterns that impact an asset: its income, its price and its trend dynamics. Indeed, carry is associated with the yield of the asset, value measures the fair price or the fundamental risk and momentum summarizes the recent price movements.

FX Carry

FX Value

FX Momentum

By using carry, value and momentum risk factors, we are equipped to study the cross-section and time-series of currency returns. In the case of stocks and bonds, academics present their results at the portfolio level because of the large universe of these asset classes. Since the number of currencies is limited, we can show the results at the security level.

For each currency, we can then estimate the sensitivity with respect to each risk factor, the importance of common risk factors, when speci fic risk does matter, etc. We can also connect statistical figures with monetary policies and regimes, illustrating the high interconnectedness of market risk factors and economic risk factors. The primary goal of building an APT model for currencies is to have a framework for analyzing and comparing the behavior of currency returns. This is the main objective of this paper, and a more appropriate title would have been "Factor Analysis of Currency Returns". By choosing the title "Factor Investing in Currency Markets", we emphasize that our risk factor framework can also help to manage currency portfolios as security analysis always comes before investment decisions.

This paper is organized as follows. Section Two is dedicated to the economics of foreign exchange rates. We fi rst introduce the concept of real exchange rate, which is central for understanding the di fferent theories of exchange rate determination. Then, we focus on interest rate and purchasing power parities. Studying monetary models and identifying the statistical properties of currency returns also helps to defi ne the market risk factors, which are presented in Section Three. These risk factors are built using the same approach in terms of portfolio composition and rebalancing. Section Four presents the cross-section and time-series analysis of each currency. We can then estimate a time-varying APT-based model in order to understand the dynamics of currency markets. The results of this dynamic model can be used to manage a currency portfolio. This is why Section Five considers hedging and
overlay management."


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Two Versions of CAPM

19.July 2019

This week's analysis of selected financial research paper contains more text and no picture, but we still think it's worth reading …

Authors: Siddiqi

Title: CAPM: A Tale of Two Versions

Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3350280

Abstract:

Given that categorization is the core of cognition, we argue that investors do not view firms in isolation. Rather, they view them within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. This involves sorting a given firm into a category and using categorization-induced inferences to form earnings and discount-rate expectations. If earnings-aspect is categorization-relevant, then earnings estimates are refined, whereas discount-rates are confounded with the category-exemplar. The opposite happens when discount-rates are categorization relevant. Earnings-focused approach such as DCF, generally used by institutional investors, leads to a version of CAPM in which the relationship between average excess return and stock beta is flat (possibly negative). Value effect and size premium (controlling for quality) arise in this version. Discount-rate focused approach such as multiples or comparables valuation, typically used by individual investors, leads to a second version in which the relationship is strongly positive with growth stocks doing better. The two-version CAPM accounts for several recent empirical findings including fundamentally different intraday vs overnight behavior, as well as behavior on macroeconomic announcement days. Momentum is expected to be an overnight phenomenon, which is consistent with empirical findings. We argue that, perhaps, our best shot at observing classical CAPM in its full glory is a laboratory experiment with subjects who have difficulty categorizing (such as in autism spectrum disorders).

Notable quotations from the academic research paper:

"Consider the following two empirical observations:

Firstly, stock prices behave very differently with respect to their sensitivity to market risk (beta) at specific times. Typically, average excess return and beta relationship is flatter than expected. It could even be negative. However, during specific times, this relationship is strongly positive, such as on days when macroeconomic announcements are made or during the night.

Secondly, a hue, which is halfway between yellow and orange, is seen as yellow on a banana and orange on a carrot. In this article, we argue that the two observations are driven by the same underlying mechanism.

The second observation is an example of the implications of categorization for color calibration. In this article, we argue that the first observation is also due to categorization, which gives rise to two versions of CAPM. In one version, the relationship between expected return and stock beta is flatter than expected or could even be negative, whereas in the second version, this relationship is strongly positive.

Categorization is the mental operation by which brain classifies objects and events. We do not experience the world as a series of unique events. Rather, we make sense of our experiences within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. That is, new information is only understood in the context of prior knowledge.

Here, in accord with cognitive science literature, we present a view of categorization that has both an upside as well as a downside, and apply this nuanced perspective to the capital asset pricing model (CAPM). If categorization is fundamental to how our brains make sense of information, then investor behavior, like any other domain of human behaviour, should also be viewed through this lens. This means that the traditional view that each firm is viewed in isolation needs to be altered. When an investor considers a firm, she views it within a framework of categories that represent prior knowledge. This involves sorting a given firm into a category based on attributes that are deemed categorization-relevant. Categorization-induced inferences help refine such attributes while confounding categorization-irrelevant attributes with the category-exemplar.

Valuation requires estimating earnings (cash-flows) potential and estimating discount-rates. Even among firms that sell similar products (same sector) some may have more similar earnings potential, whereas other may have more similar discount-rates. The former type may include firms with similar earnings-related fundamentals but very different levels of debt ratio and equity betas. Also, their multiples (generally related to inverse of the discount-rate) such as P/E, EV/Sales or EV/EBITDA could be very different. The latter type may include firms with similar debt ratios and equity betas or similar P/E and EV/EBITDA but quite different earnings or cash-flows fundamentals.

We argue that, an earnings-focused approach, such as discounted cash-flows (DCF), tends to categorize the former type of firms together, whereas, the relative valuation approach (RV) based on multiples such as P/E or EV/EBITDA tends to categorize the latter types of firms together. In other words, the choice of a valuation approach introduces a bias in how firms are categorized.

In this paper, we take discounted cash-flows (DCF) as the prototype of an earnings-potential focused approach, and valuation by multiples or relative valuation (RV) as the prototype discount-rate focused approach.

We show that when earnings aspect is categorization-relevant (as in DCF analysis), a version of CAPM is obtained, which displays a flatter or even negative relationship between stock beta and expected excess returns. Betting-against-beta anomaly is observed along with the value effect, as well as the size premium after controlling for quality (consistent with the findings in Asness et al 2018). We argue that this is the default version which typically prevails. While categorizing firms, if investors are focused on the discount rate aspect (as in RV analysis), then the discount-rates are refined whereas earnings estimates are confounded with the category-exemplar. A second version of CAPM arises. In this version, there is a strong positive relationship between beta and expected excess return.

One way to make sense of the co-existence of two versions is to classify investors as either earnings-focused or discount rate-focused. If earnings-focused investors dominate, then the first version is observed. If the discount-rate-focused investors dominate, then the second version is observed. Note, that earnings-focused approach (such as DCF) is typically employed by large institutional investors, whereas RV approach is associated with individual investors (and with sell-side equity analysts who publish research reports for individual investors).

If institutional investors are earnings-focused and individual investors are discount rate-focused, then the trading behavior of each type can be observed to make specific predictions:

1) Institutional investors typically avoid trading at the open and prefer to trade in the afternoon near the market close. The objective is to time the trade when the market is most liquid to avoid any adverse price impact. This means that trade at open is dominated by individual investors. So, one expects to see the relationship between stock beta and average return to be strongly positive (second version) overnight and flat or even negative (first version) intraday.

2) Institutional traders typically trade in the right direction prior to macroeconomic announcement days (suggesting superior information) with institutional trading volume falling sharply on macro-announcement days. As trade on such days is dominated by individual investors, one expects to see a strongly positive relationship (second version) on macro-announcement days.

3) The first version generally dominates intraday due to institutional investors being dominant. As the corresponding CAPM version comes with size and value effects, the prediction is that size and value are primarily intraday phenomena.

4) We show that, all else equal, discount rate-focused investors have higher willingness-to-pay than earnings-focused investors. If discount rate-focused investors dominate trade at open, whereas earnings-focused investors are active intraday, then one expects prices to typically rise overnight from close-to-open and fall intraday between open-to-close.

5) If momentum traders, who buy past winners and short past losers, are primarily individual investors, then one expects momentum to be an overnight phenomenon observed between close-to-open. This is because individual traders dominate trade at or near open.

"


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