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Investor Psychology and Return Predictability - Essay Example

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The non-normality of asset returns is a well known empirical regularity. Many reasons can be provided why the distribution of returns is non-normal. For instance, because volatility change over time, or because rare yet extreme events occur. These extreme events generate higher moments that are different from the higher moments one would obtain with a Gaussian distribution…
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Investor Psychology and Return Predictability
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Download file to see previous pages To do so, we start with a traditional constant relative risk aversion utility function. This type of utility function is a standard criterion for choices under uncertainty. This function is expanded in a Taylor approximation up to the fourth order. The first two moments correspond to mean and variance.
The third and fourth moment correspond to a directional measure of extreme events and to a symmetric measure respectively. A negative third moment indicates that there are more extreme negative realizations than there are positive ones. The fourth moment measures how the tails of the return distribution compare with the tails of the Gaussian distribution. From a technical point of view, in our paper, a numerical optimization takes place where the allocation involves higher moments. More pronounced results expected in the case one consider portfolios of individual stocks. Our findings are the following:
a) When an investor may allocate his wealth to the indices and to the risk-free asset, then the weights corresponding to the risky assets are essentially unaffected by the introduction of a concern for the third or fourth moments.
c) As the third moment comes to play a role, Asia (except Japan) gets less weighted because it contains large negative returns, whereas the importance of Japan is increased. The strong weighting of Japan comes from the fact that the Japanese returns contain several very large positive outliers generating a positive third moment. The implication of this research is that the traditional utility functions or expansions thereof may not sufficiently weigh realizations of extreme nature. This brings up the question how to adapt a utility function so that more weight is given to extreme realizations. A further question is how the allocation would change in a conditional setting, or with individual stocks rather than with portfolios, since in such circumstances, one may expect that higher moments take larger values than in the present setting. These questions are left for future research.
Investment strategy is the first issue that investors should consider. At the outset, investing is an act of faith, a willingness to postpone present consumption and save for the future. Investing for the long term is central to the achievement of optimal returns by investors. Unfortunately, the principle of investing for the long term-eschewing funds with high turnover portfolios and holding shares in soundly managed funds as investments for a lifetime- is honoured more in the breach than in the observance by most mutual fund managers and shareholders. This proposition for investor's psychology affect the return predictability can be shown to be precisely true in several popular mathematical models of the portfolio decision. If returns are independent over time, then the mean and variance of continuously compounded returns rises in proportion to the horizon: The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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