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On the diversification of portfolios of risky assets

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  • Frahm, Gabriel
  • Wiechers, Christof

Abstract

We introduce a measure of diversification for portfolios comprising d risky assets. This measure relates the smallest possible return variance among these d assets to the overall portfolio return variance, yielding the portion of non-diversifiable risk. In the context of normally distributed asset returns, its estimator and finite-sample properties are explored when being applied to the trivial asset allocation strategy. An overview of different previous approaches towards the measurement of diversification is provided, and the shortcomings of some of these approaches are illustrated. A categorization of tests regarding the portfolio return variance is given, especially for comparing naively allocated with minimum-variance portfolios. The empirical part of this work is carried out on monthly return data for the S&P500 constituents, with a return history spanning the last five decades. When measuring the diversification of naively allocated 40-asset portfolios, the average degree of diversification barely exceeds 60%. This result indicates that - for the mutual fund manager as well as for the private investor - well-founded selection of assets indeed leads to better portfolio diversification than naive allocation does.

Suggested Citation

  • Frahm, Gabriel & Wiechers, Christof, 2011. "On the diversification of portfolios of risky assets," Discussion Papers in Econometrics and Statistics 2/11, University of Cologne, Institute of Econometrics and Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ucdpse:211
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ron Bird & Mark Tippett, 1986. "Note---Naive Diversification and Portfolio Risk---A Note," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 244-251, February.
    2. Klein, Roger W. & Bawa, Vijay S., 1976. "The effect of estimation risk on optimal portfolio choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 215-231, June.
    3. William F. Sharpe, 1965. "Mutual Fund Performance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39, pages 119-119.
    4. Pafka, Szilárd & Kondor, Imre, 2003. "Noisy covariance matrices and portfolio optimization II," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 487-494.
    5. Jean-Philippe Bouchaud & Marc Potters & Jean-Pierre Aguilar, 1997. "Missing Information and Asset Allocation," Papers cond-mat/9707042, arXiv.org.
    6. Anil Bera & Sung Park, 2008. "Optimal Portfolio Diversification Using the Maximum Entropy Principle," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(4-6), pages 484-512.
    7. Alexander Kempf & Christoph Memmel, 2006. "Estimating the global Minimum Variance Portfolio," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 58(4), pages 332-348, October.
    8. Philippe Artzner & Freddy Delbaen & Jean-Marc Eber & David Heath, 1999. "Coherent Measures of Risk," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 203-228.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ayub, Usman & Shah, Syed Zulfiqar Ali & Abbas, Qaisar, 2015. "Robust analysis for downside risk in portfolio management for a volatile stock market," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 86-96.
    2. Raphael Benichou & Yves Lemp'eri`ere & Emmanuel S'eri'e & Julien Kockelkoren & Philip Seager & Jean-Philippe Bouchaud & Marc Potters, 2016. "Agnostic Risk Parity: Taming Known and Unknown-Unknowns," Papers 1610.08818, arXiv.org.
    3. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:286-297 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:pje:journl:article27sumi is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Diversification; Portfolio Management; Naive Portfolio; Variance Estimation; Finite-Sample Distribution; S&P500;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions
    • C58 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Financial Econometrics
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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