High Dimensional Covariance Matrix Estimation in Approximate Factor Models
29 Pages Posted: 23 May 2011 Last revised: 26 May 2011
Date Written: May 21, 2011
The variance covariance matrix plays a central role in the inferential theories of high dimensional factor models in finance and economics. Popular regularization methods of directly exploiting sparsity are not directly applicable to many financial problems. Classical methods of estimating the covariance matrices are based on the strict factor models, assuming independent idiosyncratic components. This assumption, however, is restrictive in practical applications. By assuming sparse error covariance matrix, we allow for the presence of the cross-sectional correlation even after taking out common factors, and it enables us to combine the merits of both sparsity and factor structures. We estimate the sparse covariance using the adaptive thresholding technique as in Cai and Liu (2011), taking into account the fact that direct observations of the idiosyncratic components are unavailable. The impact of high dimensionality on the covariance matrix estimation based on the factor structure is then studied.
Keywords: sparse estimation, thresholding, cross-sectional correlation, common factors, idiosyncratic, seemingly unrelated regression
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