Investment Strategy Returns: Volatility, Asymmetry, Fat Tails and the Nature of Alpha

Arthur M Berd

Contents

Introduction to 'Lessons from the Financial Crisis'

1.

The Credit Crunch of 2007: What Went Wrong? Why? What Lessons Can be Learned?

2.

Underwriting versus Economy: A New Approach to Decomposing Mortgage Losses

3.

The Shadow Banking System and Hyman Minsky’s Economic Journey

4.

The Collapse of the Icelandic Banking System

5.

The Quant Crunch Experience and the Future of Quantitative Investing

6.

No Margin for Error: The Impact of the Credit Crisis on Derivatives Markets

7.

The Re-Emergence of Distressed Exchanges in Corporate Restructurings

8.

Modelling Systemic and Sovereign Risks

9.

Measuring and Managing Risk in Innovative Financial Instruments

10.

Forecasting Extreme Risk of Equity Portfolios with Fundamental Factors

11.

Limits of Implied Credit Correlation Metrics Before and During the Crisis

12.

Another view on the pricing of MBSs, CMOs and CDOs of ABS

13.

Pricing of Credit Derivatives with and without Counterparty and Collateral Adjustments

14.

A Practical Guide to Monte Carlo CVA

15.

The Endogenous Dynamics of Markets: Price Impact, Feedback Loops and Instabilities

16.

Market Panics: Correlation Dynamics, Dispersion and Tails

17.

Financial Complexity and Systemic Stability in Trading Markets

18.

The Martingale Theory of Bubbles: Implications for the Valuation of Derivatives and Detecting Bubbles

19.

Managing through a Crisis: Practical Insights and Lessons Learned for Quantitatively Managed Equity Portfolios

20.

Active Risk Management: A Credit Investor’s Perspective

21.

Investment Strategy Returns: Volatility, Asymmetry, Fat Tails and the Nature of Alpha

The key question in investment management is to understand the sources of investment returns. Without such understanding, it is virtually impossible to succeed in managing money. Even risk management, usually a more scientific endeavour compared with the murky craft of predicting directional or relative movements of asset prices, becomes difficult if we have no proper framework within which to think about the future return distributions.

In this chapter, we explore the importance of non-Gaussian features of returns, such as time-varying volatility, asymmetry and fat tails. We demonstrate, using an empirical model of hedge fund strategy returns, that these non-Gaussian features significantly affect the expected returns. Moreover, we demonstrate that the volatility compensation is often a significant component of the expected returns of the investment strategies, suggesting that many of these strategies should be thought of as being “short vol”. The notable exceptions are the CTA strategies11 CTA funds are commonly known as “commodity trading advisors”, though the modern CTA investors often trade in futures of all asset classes, not just commodities. and certain fixed income and FX

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