Alpha as Ambiguity: Robust Mean-Variance Portfolio Analysis
By Fabio Maccheroni, Massimo Marinacci and Doriana Ruffino
We derive the analogue of the classic Arrow-Pratt approximation of the certainty equivalent under model uncertainty as defined by the smooth model of decision making under ambiguity of Klibanoff, Marinacci and Mukerji (2005). We study its scope via a portfolio allocation exercise that delivers a tractable mean-variance model adjusted for model uncertainty. In a problem with a risk-free asset, a risky asset, and an ambiguous asset, we find that portfolio rebalancing in response to higher model uncertainty only depends on the ambiguous asset's alpha, setting the performance of the risky asset as benchmark. In addition, the portfolios recommended by our model are not systematically conservative on the share held in the ambiguous asset: indeed, in general, it is not true that greater ambiguity reduces the optimal demand for the ambiguous asset. The analytical tractability of the enhanced Arrow-Pratt approximation renders our model especially well suited for calibration exercises aimed at exploring the consequences of ambiguity aversion on equilibrium asset prices.
"Crises feed uncertainty. And uncertainty affects behaviour, which feeds the crisis."
Olivier Blanchard, The Economist, January 29, 2009
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