Theses Doctoral

Financial Portfolio Risk Management: Model Risk, Robustness and Rebalancing Error

Xu, Xingbo

Risk management has always been in key component of portfolio management. While more and more complicated models are proposed and implemented as research advances, they all inevitably rely on imperfect assumptions and estimates. This dissertation aims to investigate the gap between complicated theoretical modelling and practice. We mainly focus on two directions: model risk and reblancing error. In the first part of the thesis, we develop a framework for quantifying the impact of model error and for measuring and minimizing risk in a way that is robust to model error. This robust approach starts from a baseline model and finds the worst-case error in risk measurement that would be incurred through a deviation from the baseline model, given a precise constraint on the plausibility of the deviation. Using relative entropy to constrain model distance leads to an explicit characterization of worst-case model errors; this characterization lends itself to Monte Carlo simulation, allowing straightforward calculation of bounds on model error with very little computational effort beyond that required to evaluate performance under the baseline nominal model. This approach goes well beyond the effect of errors in parameter estimates to consider errors in the underlying stochastic assumptions of the model and to characterize the greatest vulnerabilities to error in a model. We apply this approach to problems of portfolio risk measurement, credit risk, delta hedging, and counterparty risk measured through credit valuation adjustment. In the second part, we apply this robust approach to a dynamic portfolio control problem. The sources of model error include the evolution of market factors and the influence of these factors on asset returns. We analyze both finite- and infinite-horizon problems in a model in which returns are driven by factors that evolve stochastically. The model incorporates transaction costs and leads to simple and tractable optimal robust controls for multiple assets. We illustrate the performance of the controls on historical data. Robustness does improve performance in out-of-sample tests in which the model is estimated on a rolling window of data and then applied over a subsequent time period. By acknowledging uncertainty in the estimated model, the robust rules lead to less aggressive trading and are less sensitive to sharp moves in underlying prices. In the last part, we analyze the error between a discretely rebalanced portfolio and its continuously rebalanced counterpart in the presence of jumps or mean-reversion in the underlying asset dynamics. With discrete rebalancing, the portfolio's composition is restored to a set of fixed target weights at discrete intervals; with continuous rebalancing, the target weights are maintained at all times. We examine the difference between the two portfolios as the number of discrete rebalancing dates increases. We derive the limiting variance of the relative error between the two portfolios for both the mean-reverting and jump-diffusion cases. For both cases, we derive ``volatility adjustments'' to improve the approximation of the discretely rebalanced portfolio by the continuously rebalanced portfolio, based on on the limiting covariance between the relative rebalancing error and the level of the continuously rebalanced portfolio. These results are based on strong approximation results for jump-diffusion processes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Thesis Advisors
Glasserman, Paul
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 20, 2013