Reality check for volatility models

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Asset allocation decisions and value at risk calculations rely strongly on volatility estimates. Volatility measures such as rolling window, EWMA, GARCH and stochastic volatility are used in practice. GARCH and EWMA type models that incorporate the dynamic structure of volatility and are capable of forecasting future behavior of risk should perform better than constant, rolling window volatility models. For the same asset the model that is the ‘best’ according to some criterion can change from period to period. We use the reality check test∗ to verify if one model out-performs others over a class of re-sampled time-series data. The test is based on re-sampling the data using stationary bootstrapping. For each re-sample we check the ‘best’ model according to two criteria and analyze the distribution of the performance statistics. We compare constant volatility, EWMA and GARCH models using a quadratic utility function and a risk management measurement as comparison criteria. No model consistently out-performs the benchmark.

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