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Volatility as an Alternative asset Class: Does It Improve Portfolio Performance?

Author

Listed:
  • Elvira Caloiero
  • Massimo Guidolin

Abstract

We investigate the potential role of Exchange Traded Products (Notes) as vehicles to trade volatility (here proxied by the VIX index) as an asset class in a fully optimizing asset allocation framework, subject to long-only constraints. In back-testing, recursive exercises based on an expanding window of data from February 2010 to February 2016, we find evidence that VIX should enter with non-negligible weight most portfolio strategies and that under many circumstances, long VIX positions may generate positive risk-adjusted performance benefits. However, the volatility positions that can be managed and traded through (one of) the most popular US exchange-traded notes (VXX) fails to deliver such realized, out-of-sample benefits under all utility functions and for a range of assumptions on investors’ risk aversion. Even though the turnover implied by VXX does not appear excessive, taking into account transaction costs worsens considerably its performance and even casts doubts as to whether volatility ought to be considered as an alternative asset class altogether. Direct strategies that trade appropriate futures on the VIX improve somewhat realized performance, but not enough to tilt over the balance of our conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • Elvira Caloiero & Massimo Guidolin, 2017. "Volatility as an Alternative asset Class: Does It Improve Portfolio Performance?," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 1763, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:baf:cbafwp:cbafwp1763
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    File URL: ftp://ftp.unibocconi.it/pub/RePEc/baf/papers/cbafwp1763.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Adams, Zeno & Füss, Roland & Glück, Thorsten, 2017. "Are correlations constant? Empirical and theoretical results on popular correlation models in finance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 9-24.
    2. Eric Jondeau & Michael Rockinger, 2006. "Optimal Portfolio Allocation under Higher Moments," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 12(1), pages 29-55.
    3. Bekaert, Geert & Wu, Guojun, 2000. "Asymmetric Volatility and Risk in Equity Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(1), pages 1-42.
    4. repec:eee:empfin:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:91-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Brenner, Menachem & Ou, Ernest Y. & Zhang, Jin E., 2006. "Hedging volatility risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 811-821, March.
    6. Scott, Robert C & Horvath, Philip A, 1980. " On the Direction of Preference for Moments of Higher Order Than the Variance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(4), pages 915-919, September.
    7. Reinhold Hafner & Martin Wallmeier, 2007. "Volatility as an Asset Class: European Evidence," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(7), pages 621-644.
    8. Marie Briere & Alexandre Burgues & Ombretta Signori, 2008. "Volatility Exposure for Strategic Asset Allocation," Working Papers CEB 08-034.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Massimo Guidolin & Allan Timmermann, 2008. "International asset allocation under regime switching, skew, and kurtosis preferences," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 889-935, April.
    10. repec:eee:ejores:v:262:y:2017:i:3:p:1164-1180 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:wly:jfutmk:v:37:y:2017:i:5:p:431-451 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Volatility; VIX; Exchange-Traded Products; Exchange;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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