Which Alpha?

22 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2015 Last revised: 16 Apr 2022

See all articles by Francisco Barillas

Francisco Barillas

University of New South Wales

Jay A. Shanken

Emory University - Goizueta Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2015


A common approach to comparing asset pricing models with traded factors involves a competition between models in pricing test-asset returns. We find that such practice, while seemingly reasonable, cannot be relied on to determine which is the superior model for several widely accepted criteria including statistical likelihood, Sharpe ratios and a modified HJ distance. All that matters for model comparison is the extent to which each model is able to price the factors in the other model. Given this information, test assets are actually irrelevant, whether the models are nested or non-nested.

Suggested Citation

Barillas, Francisco and Shanken, Jay A., Which Alpha? (November 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21698, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2687846

Francisco Barillas (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales ( email )

College Rd, Kensington
Sydney, 2052

Jay A. Shanken

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States
404-727-4772 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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