Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Uncovering decades of questionable investments

18.01.2018

Careful computational analysis of 40 years of stock prices explains important anomaly

One of the key principles in asset pricing -- how we value everything from stocks and bonds to real estate -- is that investments with high risk should, on average, have high returns.


The plot shows the time-series of aggregate lottery demand. Aggregate lottery demand in any month t is measured as the equal-weighted (EWMAX) or value-weighted (VWMAX) average value of MAX across all stocks in the sample in month t.

Credit: Murray, Bali, Brown and Tang

"If you take a lot of risk, you should expect to earn more for it," said Scott Murray, professor of finance at George State University. "To go deeper, the theory says that systematic risk, or risk that is common to all investments" -- also known as 'beta' -- "is the kind of risk that investors should care about."

This theory was first articulated in the 1960s by Sharpe (1964), Lintner (1965), and Mossin (1966). However, empirical work dating as far back as 1972 didn't support the theory. In fact, many researchers found that stocks with high risk often do not deliver higher returns, even in the long run.

"It's the foundational theory of asset pricing but has little empirical support in the data. So, in a sense, it's the big question," Murray said.

ISOLATING THE CAUSE

In a recent paper in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Murray and his co-authors Turan Bali (Georgetown University), Stephen Brown (Monash University) and Yi Tang (Fordham University), argue that the reason for this 'beta anomaly' lies in the fact that stocks with high betas also happen to have lottery-like properties - that is, they offer the possibility of becoming big winners. Investors who are attracted to the lottery characteristics of these stocks push their prices higher than theory would predict, thereby lowering their future returns.

To support this hypothesis, they analyzed stock prices from June 1963 to December 2012. For every month, they calculated the beta of each stock (up to 5,000 stocks per month) by running a regression-- a statistical way of estimating the relationships among variables -- of the stock's return on the return of the market portfolio. They then sorted the stocks into 10 groups based on their betas and examined the performance of stocks in the different groups.

"Theory predicts that stocks with high betas do better in the long run than stocks with low betas," Murray said. "Doing our analysis, we find that there really isn't a difference in the performance of stocks with different betas."

They next analyzed the data again and, for each stock month, calculated how lottery-like each stock was. Once again, they sorted the stocks into 10 groups based on their betas and then repeated the analysis. This time, however, they implemented a constraint that required each of the 10 groups to have stocks with similar lottery characteristics. By making sure the stocks in each group had the same lottery properties, they controlled for the possibility that their failure to detect a difference in performance between in their original tests was because the stocks in different beta groups have different lottery characteristics.

"We found that after controlling for lottery characteristics, the seminal theory is empirically supported," Murray said.

In other words: price pressure from investors who want lottery-like stocks is what causes the theory to fail. When this factor is removed, asset pricing works according to theory.

IDENTIFYING THE SOURCE

Other economists had pointed to a different factor -- leverage constraints -- as the main cause of this market anomaly. They believed that large investors like mutual funds and pensions that are not allowed to borrow money to buy large amounts of lower-risk stocks are forced to buy higher-risk ones to generate large profits, thus distorting the market.

However, an additional analysis of the data by Murray and his collaborators found that the lottery-like stocks were most often held by individual investors. If leverage constraints were the cause of the beta anomaly, mutual funds and pensions would be the main owners driving up demand.

The team's research won the prestigious Jack Treynor Prize, given each year by the Q Group, which recognizes superior academic working papers with potential applications in the fields of investment management and financial markets.

The work is in line with ideas like prospect theory, first articulated by Nobel-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, which contends that investors typically overestimate the probability of extreme events -- both losses and gains.

"The study helps investors understand how they can avoid the pitfalls if they want to generate returns by taking more risks," Murray said.

To run the systematic analyses of the large financial datasets, Murray used the Wrangler supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Wrangler was built to enable data-driven research nationwide. Using Wrangler significantly reduced the time-to-solution for Murray.

"If there are 500 months in the sample, I can send one month to one core, another month to another core, and instead of computing 500 months separately, I can do them in parallel and have reduced the human time by many orders of magnitude," he said.

The size of the data for the lottery-effect research was not enormous and could have been computed on a desktop computer or small cluster (albeit taking more time). However, with other problems that Murray is working on - for instance research on options - the computational requirements are much higher and require super-sized computers like those at TACC.

"We're living in the big data world," he said. "People are trying to grapple with this in financial economics as they are in every other field and we're just scratching the surface. This is something that's going to grow more and more as the data becomes more refined and technologies such as text processing become more prevalent."

Though historically used for problems in physics, chemistry and engineering, advanced computing is starting to be widely used -- and to have a big impact -- in economics and the social sciences.

According to Chris Jordan, manager of the Data Management & Collections group at TACC, Murray's research is a great example of the kinds of challenges Wrangler was designed to address.

"It relies on database technology that isn't typically available in high-performance computing environments, and it requires extremely high-performance I/O capabilities. It is able to take advantage of both our specialized software environment and the half-petabyte flash storage tier to generate results that would be difficult or impossible on other systems," Jordan said. "Dr. Murray's work also relies on a corpus of data which acts as a long-term resource in and of itself -- a notion we have been trying to promote with Wrangler."

Beyond its importance to investors and financial theorists, the research has a broad societal impact, Murray contends.

"For our society to be as prosperous as possible, we need to allocate our resources efficiently. How much oil do we use? How many houses do we build? A large part of that is understanding how and why money gets invested in certain things," he explained. "The objective of this line of research is to understand the trade-offs that investors consider when making these sorts of decisions."

Media Contact

Aaron Dubrow
aarondubrow@tacc.utexas.edu
512-471-8217

 @TACC

http://www.tacc.utexas.edu/ 

Aaron Dubrow | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Advanced Computing TACC investments mutual funds stocks

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Microtechnology industry is hiring – positive developments of past years continue
09.04.2018 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index with minor decline on a high overall level
20.03.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>