Momentum Trading, Return Chasing, and Predictable Crashes

45 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2014

See all articles by Benjamin Remy Chabot

Benjamin Remy Chabot

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Eric Ghysels

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School; University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Economics

Ravi Jagannathan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF); Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2014

Abstract

We combine self-collected historical data from 1867 to 1907 with CRSP data from 1926 to 2012, to examine the risk and return over the past 140 years of one of the most popular mechanical trading strategies — momentum. We find that momentum has earned abnormally high risk-adjusted returns — a three factor alpha of 1 percent per month between 1927 and 2012 and 0.5 percent per month between 1867 and 1907 — both statistically significantly different from zero. However, the momentum strategy also exposed investors to large losses (crashes) during both periods. Momentum crashes were predictable — more likely when momentum recently performed well (both eras), interest rates were relatively low (1867–1907), or momentum had recently outperformed the stock market (CRSP era) — times when borrowing or attracting return chasing “blind capital” would have been easier. Based on a stylized model and simulated outcomes from a richer model, we argue that a money manager has an incentive to remain invested in momentum even when the crash risk is known to be high when (1) he competes for funds from return-chasing investors and (2) he is compensated via fees that are convex in the amount of money managed and the return on that money.

Suggested Citation

Chabot, Benjamin Remy and Ghysels, Eric and Jagannathan, Ravi, Momentum Trading, Return Chasing, and Predictable Crashes (November 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20660. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535171

Benjamin Remy Chabot (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Eric Ghysels

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

Kenan-Flagler Business School
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Economics ( email )

Gardner Hall, CB 3305
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States
919-966-5325 (Phone)
919-966-4986 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.unc.edu/~eghysels/

Ravi Jagannathan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
429 Andersen Hall
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-8338 (Phone)
847-491-5719 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) ( email )

Shanghai Jiao Tong University
211 West Huaihai Road
Shanghai, 200030
China

Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad ( email )

Hyderabad, Gachibowli 500 019
India

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