Factor Investing in Currency Markets: Does it Make Sense?
The Journal of Portfolio Management Quantitative Special Issue 2020, 46 (2) 141-155; DOI: https://doi.org/10.3905/jpm.2019.1.116
Posted: 9 Jul 2019
Date Written: June 15, 2019
The concept of factor investing emerged at the end of the 2000s and has completely changed the landscape of equity investing. Today, institutional investors structure their strategic asset allocation around five risk factors: size, value, low beta, momentum and quality. This approach has been extended to multi-asset portfolios and is known as the alternative risk premia model. This framework recognizes that the construction of diversified portfolios cannot only be reduced to the allocation policy between asset classes, such as stocks and bonds. Indeed, diversification is multifaceted and must also consider alternative risk factors. More recently, factor investing has gained popularity in the fixed income universe, even though the use of risk factors is an old topic for modeling the yield curve and pricing interest rate contingent claims. Factor investing is now implemented for managing portfolios of corporate bonds or emerging bonds.
In this paper, we focus on currency markets. The dynamics of foreign exchange rates are generally explained by several theoretical economic models that are commonly presented as competing approaches. In our opinion, they are more complementary and they can be the backbone of a Fama-French-Carhart risk factor model for currencies. In particular, we show that these risk factors
may explain a significant part of time-series and cross-section returns in foreign exchange markets. Therefore, this result helps us to better understand the management of forex portfolios. To illustrate this point, we provide some applications concerning basket hedging, overlay management and the construction of alpha strategies.
Keywords: foreign exchange rates, factor investing, carry, value, momentum, reversal, interest rate parity, purchasing power parity, BEER, FEER, NATREX, cross-section analysis, time-series analysis, risk premium, basket hedging, overlay management, risk aggregation, alpha strategy
JEL Classification: C50, F31, G11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation