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Predictable return distributions


  • Thomas Q. Pedersen

    () (School of Economics and Management, Aarhus University and CREATES)


This paper provides detailed insights into predictability of the entire stock and bond return distribution through the use of quantile regression. This allows us to examine speci?c parts of the return distribution such as the tails or the center, and for a suf?ciently ?ne grid of quantiles we can trace out the entire distribution. A univariate quantile regression model is used to examine stock and bond return distributions individually, while a multivariate model is used to capture their joint distribution. An empirical analysis on US data shows that certain parts of the return distributions are predictable as a function of economic state variables. The results are, however, very different for stocks and bonds. The state variables primarily predict only location shifts in the stock return distribution, while they also predict changes in higher-order moments in the bond return distribution. Out-of-sample analyses show that the relative accuracy of the state variables in predicting future returns varies across the distribution. A portfolio study shows that an investor with power utility can obtain economic gains by applying the empirical return distribution in portfolio decisions instead of imposing an assumption of lognormally distributed returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Q. Pedersen, 2010. "Predictable return distributions," CREATES Research Papers 2010-38, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:create:2010-38

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:finlet:v:22:y:2017:i:c:p:35-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pierdzioch, Christian & Risse, Marian & Rohloff, Sebastian, 2015. "A real-time quantile-regression approach to forecasting gold returns under asymmetric loss," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 299-306.
    3. Aslanidis, Nektarios & Christiansen, Charlotte, 2014. "Quantiles of the realized stock–bond correlation and links to the macroeconomy," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 321-331.
    4. Pierdzioch, Christian & Risse, Marian & Rohloff, Sebastian, 2016. "A quantile-boosting approach to forecasting gold returns," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 38-55.
    5. Kaihua Deng, 2015. "Predicting By Learning: An Adaptive Rationale," Annals of Financial Economics (AFE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 10(02), pages 1-14, December.
    6. Stanislav Anatolyev & Jozef Barunik, 2017. "A simple model for forecasting conditional return distributions," Papers 1711.05681,
    7. Zhu, Min, 2013. "Return distribution predictability and its implications for portfolio selection," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 209-223.
    8. repec:eee:finana:v:51:y:2017:i:c:p:25-53 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Return predictability; return distribution; quantile regression; multivariate model; out-of-sample forecast; portfolio choice;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G17 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Financial Forecasting and Simulation

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