This post is about copulas and heavy tails. In a previous post we discussed the concept of correlation structure. The aim is to characterize the correlation across the distribution. Prior to the global financial crisis many investors were under the impression that they were diversified, and they were, for how things looked there and then. Alas, when things went south, correlation in the new southern regions turned out to be different\stronger than that in normal times. The hard-won diversification benefits evaporated exactly when you needed them the most. This adversity has to do with fat-tail in the joint distribution, leading to great conceptual and practical difficulties. Investors and bankers chose to swallow the blue pill, and believe they are in the nice Gaussian world, where the math is magical and elegant. Investors now take the red pill, where the math is ugly and problems abound.
Given a constant speed, time and distance are fully correlated. Provide me with the one, and I’ll give you the other. When two variables have nothing to do with each other, we say that they are not correlated.
You wish that would be the end of it. But it is not so. As it is, things are perilously more complicated. By far the most familiar correlation concept is the Pearson’s correlation. Pearson’s correlation coefficient checks for linear dependence. Because of it, we say it is a parametric measure. It can return an actual zero even when the two variables are fully dependent on each other (link to cool chart).
When hopping from univariate volatility forecasts to multivariate volatility forecast, we need to understand that now we have to forecast not only the univariate volatility element, which we already know how to do, but also the covariance elements, which we do not know how to do, yet. Say you have two series, then this covariance element is the off-diagonal of the 2 by 2 variance-covariance matrix. The precise term we should use is “variance-covariance matrix”, since the matrix consists of the variance elements on the diagonal and the covariance elements on the off-diagonal. But since it is very tiring to read\write “variance-covariance matrix”, it is commonly referred to as the covariance matrix, or sometimes less formally as var-covar matrix.
In portfolio management, risk management and derivative pricing, volatility plays an important role. So important in fact that you can find more volatility models than you can handle (Wikipedia link). What follows is to check how well each model performs, in and out of sample. Here are three simple things you can do:
In the last few decades there has been tremendous progress in the realm of volatility estimation. A major step is the additional use of intraday price path. It has been shown that estimates which consider intraday information are more accurate. Which is to say they converge faster to the real unobserved value of the true volatility.
THIS IS NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. ACTING BASED ON THIS POST MAY, AND IN ALL PROBABILITY WILL, CAUSE MONETARY LOSS.
Most of us are risk averse, so in our portfolio, we prefer to have stocks that will protect us to some extent from market deterioration. Simply put, when things go sour we want to own solid companies. This will reduce return fluctuation and will help our ulcer index against large downwards market swings. Large caps are such stocks. But which large caps should we chose? The squared returns are often taken as a proxy for the volatility so, keeping simplicity in mind, I use those.