(with D. Palhares and S. Pruitt)
We propose a new conditional factor model for returns on corporate bonds. The model has four factors with time-varying factor loadings that are instrumented by observable bond characteristics. We have three main empirical findings. The first is that our factor model excels in describing the risks and returns of corporate bonds, improving over previously proposed models in the literature by a large margin. Second, using bond characteristics to instrument evolving bond risk exposures significantly improves not only our model, but also previously proposed models of observable corporate bond factors. Third, our no-arbitrage model recommends a systematic bond investment portfolio that significantly outperforms leading corporate credit investment strategies. However, also we find that a ``pure alpha'' bond portfolio---which is orthogonal to factor risk---is incrementally profitable when combined with the no-arbitrage strategy.
(with S. Malamud and L. Pedersen)
We propose a new asset-pricing framework in which all securities’ signals are used to predict each individual return. While the literature focuses on each security’s own-signal predictability, assuming an equal strength across securities, our framework is flexible and includes cross-predictability—leading to three main results. First, we derive the optimal strategy in closed form. It consists of eigenvectors of a “prediction matrix,” which we call “principal portfolios.” Second, we decompose the problem into alpha and beta, yielding optimal strategies with, respectively, zero and positive factor exposure. Third, we provide a new test of asset pricing models. Empirically, principal portfolios deliver significant out-of-sample alphas to standard factors in several data sets.
(with L. Bybee, A. Manela, and D. Xiu)
We propose an approach to measuring the state of the economy via textual analysis of business news. From the full text content of 800,000 Wall Street Journal articles for 1984–2017, we estimate a topic model that summarizes business news as easily interpretable topical themes and quantifies the proportion of news attention allocated to each theme at each point in time. We then use our news attention estimates as inputs into statistical models of numerical economic time series. We demonstrate that these text-based inputs accurately track a wide range of economic activity measures and that they have incremental forecasting power for macroeconomic outcomes, above and beyond standard numerical predictors. Finally, we use our model to retrieve the news-based narratives that underly “shocks” in numerical economic data.
(with Z. Ke and D. Xiu)
We introduce a new text-mining methodology that extracts sentiment information from news articles to predict asset returns. Unlike more common sentiment scores used for stock return prediction (e.g., those sold by commercial vendors or built with dictionary-based methods), our supervised learning framework constructs a sentiment score that is specifically adapted to the problem of return prediction. Our method proceeds in three steps: 1) isolating a list of sentiment terms via predictive screening, 2) assigning sentiment weights to these words via topic modeling, and 3) aggregating terms into an article-level sentiment score via penalized likelihood. We derive theoretical guarantees on the accuracy of estimates from our model with minimal assumptions. In our empirical analysis, we text-mine one of the most actively monitored streams of news articles in the financial system—the Dow Jones Newswires—and show that our supervised sentiment model excels at extracting return-predictive signals in this context.
(with R. Israelov)
Uncertainty about the future option return has two sources: Changes in the position and shape of the implied volatility surface that shift option values (holding moneyness and maturity fixed), and changes in the underlying price which alter an option's location on the surface and thus its value (holding the surface fixed). We estimate a joint time series model of the spot price and volatility surface and use this to construct an ex ante characterization of the option return distribution via bootstrap. Our ''ORB'' (option return bootstrap) model accurately forecasts means, variances, and extreme quantiles of S&P 500 index conditional option return distributions across a wide range of strikes and maturities.
(with J. Jiang and D. Xiu)
We reconsider the idea of trend-based predictability using methods that flexibly learn price patterns that are most predictive of future returns, rather than testing hypothesized or pre-specified patterns (e.g., momentum and reversal). Our raw predictor data are images—stock-level price charts—from which we elicit the price patterns that best predict returns using machine learning image analysis methods. The predictive patterns we identify are largely distinct from trend signals commonly analyzed in the literature, give more accurate return predictions, translate into more profitable investment strategies, and are robust to a battery of specification variations. They also appear context-independent: Predictive patterns estimated at short time scales (e.g., daily data) give similarly strong predictions when applied at longer time scales (e.g., monthly), and patterns learned from US stocks predict equally well in international markets.