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A Generalized Approach to Portfolio Optimization: Improving Performance by Constraining Portfolio Norms

  • Victor DeMiguel

    ()

    (London Business School, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom)

  • Lorenzo Garlappi

    ()

    (McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712)

  • Francisco J. Nogales

    ()

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 28911 Leganes, Madrid, Spain)

  • Raman Uppal

    ()

    (London Business School, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom)

We provide a general framework for finding portfolios that perform well out-of-sample in the presence of estimation error. This framework relies on solving the traditional minimum-variance problem but subject to the additional constraint that the norm of the portfolio-weight vector be smaller than a given threshold. We show that our framework nests as special cases the shrinkage approaches of Jagannathan and Ma (Jagannathan, R., T. Ma. 2003. Risk reduction in large portfolios: Why imposing the wrong constraints helps. J. Finance 58 1651-1684) and Ledoit and Wolf (Ledoit, O., M. Wolf. 2003. Improved estimation of the covariance matrix of stock returns with an application to portfolio selection. J. Empirical Finance 10 603-621, and Ledoit, O., M. Wolf. 2004. A well-conditioned estimator for large-dimensional covariance matrices. J. Multivariate Anal. 88 365-411) and the 1/N portfolio studied in DeMiguel et al. (DeMiguel, V., L. Garlappi, R. Uppal. 2009. Optimal versus naive diversification: How inefficient is the 1/N portfolio strategy? Rev. Financial Stud. 22 1915-1953). We also use our framework to propose several new portfolio strategies. For the proposed portfolios, we provide a moment-shrinkage interpretation and a Bayesian interpretation where the investor has a prior belief on portfolio weights rather than on moments of asset returns. Finally, we compare empirically the out-of-sample performance of the new portfolios we propose to 10 strategies in the literature across five data sets. We find that the norm-constrained portfolios often have a higher Sharpe ratio than the portfolio strategies in Jagannathan and Ma (2003), Ledoit and Wolf (2003, 2004), the 1/N portfolio, and other strategies in the literature, such as factor portfolios.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1080.0986
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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 55 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
Pages: 798-812

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:55:y:2009:i:5:p:798-812
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  1. Ledoit, Oliver & Wolf, Michael, 2008. "Robust performance hypothesis testing with the Sharpe ratio," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 850-859, December.
  2. Green, Richard C & Hollifield, Burton, 1992. " When Will Mean-Variance Efficient Portfolios Be Well Diversified?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1785-809, December.
  3. Frost, Peter A. & Savarino, James E., 1986. "An Empirical Bayes Approach to Efficient Portfolio Selection," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(03), pages 293-305, September.
  4. Mark Britten-Jones, 1999. "The Sampling Error in Estimates of Mean-Variance Efficient Portfolio Weights," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 655-671, 04.
  5. Louis K.C. Chan & Jason Karceski & Josef Lakonishok, 1999. "On Portfolio Optimization: Forecasting Covariances and Choosing the Risk Model," NBER Working Papers 7039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chan, Louis K C & Karceski, Jason & Lakonishok, Josef, 1999. "On Portfolio Optimization: Forecasting Covariances and Choosing the Risk Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(5), pages 937-74.
  7. Michael W. Brandt, 1999. "Estimating Portfolio and Consumption Choice: A Conditional Euler Equations Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(5), pages 1609-1645, October.
  8. Michael W. Brandt & Pedro Santa-Clara & Rossen Valkanov, 2004. "Parametric Portfolio Policies: Exploiting Characteristics in the Cross Section of Equity Returns," NBER Working Papers 10996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ravi Jagannathan & Tongshu Ma, 2002. "Risk Reduction in Large Portfolios: Why Imposing the Wrong Constraints Helps," NBER Working Papers 8922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Best, Michael J & Grauer, Robert R, 1991. "On the Sensitivity of Mean-Variance-Efficient Portfolios to Changes in Asset Means: Some Analytical and Computational Results," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 4(2), pages 315-42.
  11. Robert C. Merton, 1980. "On Estimating the Expected Return on the Market: An Exploratory Investigation," NBER Working Papers 0444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Olivier Ledoit & Michael Wolf, 2001. "Improved estimation of the covariance matrix of stock returns with an application to portofolio selection," Economics Working Papers 586, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  13. Park, Trevor & Casella, George, 2008. "The Bayesian Lasso," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103, pages 681-686, June.
  14. Jorion, Philippe, 1985. "International Portfolio Diversification with Estimation Risk," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(3), pages 259-78, July.
  15. Ledoit, Olivier & Wolf, Michael, 2004. "A well-conditioned estimator for large-dimensional covariance matrices," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 365-411, February.
  16. Elton, Edwin J & Gruber, Martin J, 1973. "Estimating the Dependence Structure of Share Prices-Implications for Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 28(5), pages 1203-32, December.
  17. Jorion, Philippe, 1986. "Bayes-Stein Estimation for Portfolio Analysis," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(03), pages 279-292, September.
  18. Jorion, Philippe, 1991. "Bayesian and CAPM estimators of the means: Implications for portfolio selection," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 717-727, June.
  19. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
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