Research Archive

Sequential learning, predictability, and optimal portfolio returns

Michael Johannes, Arthur Korteweg, Nicholas Polson

Publication type: Journal article

Research Archive Topic: Business Economics and Public Policy, Corporate Finance


This paper finds statistically and economically significant out-of-sample portfolio benefits for an investor who uses models of return predictability when forming optimal portfolios. The key is that investors must incorporate an ensemble of important features into their optimal portfolio problem, including time-varying volatility, and time-varying expected returns driven by improved predictors such as measures of yield that include share repurchase and issuance in addition to cash payouts. Moreover, investors need to account for estimation risk when forming optimal portfolios. Prior research documents a lack of benefits to return predictability, and our results suggest that this is largely due to omitting time-varying volatility and estimation risk. We also study the learning problem of investors, documenting the sequential process of learning about parameters, state variables, and models as new data arrives.
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Johannes, Michael, Arthur Korteweg, and Nicholas Polson. "Sequential learning, predictability, and optimal portfolio returns." Journal of Finance 69, no. 2 (April 2014): 611-644.

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