Efficient Bias Robust Cross Section Factor Models

38 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2021

See all articles by R. Douglas Martin

R. Douglas Martin

University of Washington

Daniel Xia

Independent Researcher; affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 10, 2021


This paper introduces a theory based robust regression estimator, called the mOpt estimator, that minimizes the maximum bias with respect to a Tukey-Huber mixture model that includes a standard linear regression model with normally distribution errors as a special case, but also allows for a small fraction of unrestricted fat-tailed and skewed non-normal distribution variations from the
standard model. The estimator has a very intuitive weighted least squares interpretation based on a data-dependent weight function that is equal to zero for robustly scaled prediction residuals that are larger in magnitude than 3.0, and thereby rejects outliers. We apply the robust regression method to single factor and multiple factor cross-section models for Size, BM, Beta and EP factors, and find that the robust regression results reverse the Fama-French 1992 (FF92) conclusions concerning the significance of the Size, Beta and EP factors. The difference in our results and those of FF92 is that the robust regression rejects approximately 4% to 5% of outliers, most of which, but not all, occur for microcap stocks, with smallcap stocks also having some influential outliers, and even
largecaps have a few. We strongly recommend standard use of the mOpt estimator as an important complement to least squares for empirical asset pricing research, as well as for quantitative finance applications in general.

Keywords: Robust regression, cross-section factor models, outliers, bias, variance, MSE eciency, priced factors

JEL Classification: C13, C61

Suggested Citation

Martin, R. Douglas and Xia, Daniel, Efficient Bias Robust Cross Section Factor Models (September 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3921175 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3921175

R. Douglas Martin (Contact Author)

University of Washington ( email )

Applied Mathematics & Statistics
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Daniel Xia

Independent Researcher ( email )

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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