SEM217: Markus Pelger, Stanford University: Estimating Latent Asset-Pricing Factors

Tuesday, January 24th @ 11:00-12:30 PM (639 Evans Hall)

Estimating Latent Asset-Pricing Factors

Markus Pelger, Stanford University

We develop an estimator for latent factors in a large-dimensional panel of financial data that can explain expected excess returns. Statistical factor analysis based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) has problems identifying factors with a small variance that are important for asset pricing. Our estimator searches for factors with a high Sharpe-ratio that can explain both the expected return and covariance structure. We derive the statistical properties of the new estimator and show that our estimator can find asset-pricing factors, which cannot be detected with PCA, even if a large amount of data is available. Applying the approach to portfolio and stock data we find factors with Sharpe-ratios more than twice as large as those based on conventional PCA. Our factors accommodate a large set of anomalies better than notable four- and five-factor alternative models.