Portfolio Optimization and Parameter Uncertainty
15 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2024
Date Written: January 30, 2024
Portfolio optimization has a mixed reputation among investment managers, with some being so skeptical that they believe it is almost useless due to the inherent parameter uncertainty. It is undeniable that portfolio optimization problems are sensitive to parameter estimates, especially the expected returns that are arguably also the hardest parameters to estimate. However, most practitioners still attempt to build mean-risk optimal portfolios, albeit in implicit ways. A popular mathematical heuristic to tackle the parameter uncertainty issue is called resampled optimization, which computes optimal portfolios using sampled parameter estimates and calculates a simple average of the portfolio exposures across samples. The unsatisfactory aspect of the resampled approach is that there is no mathematical justification for using the average of portfolio exposures, it just works well in practice. This article provides perspectives for understanding the resampling approach by analyzing the portfolio exposure estimation process from a bias-variance trade-off perspective. We show that the traditional resampled optimization corresponds to a naive version of stacked generalization. Finally, we introduce a stacked generalization approach that can be used to handle both parameter uncertainty and combine optimization methods in full generality. We coin the new method Exposure Stacking.
Documented Python code that replicates the results of the case study is available in the open-source package fortitudo.tech. More information about the package can be found on https://os.fortitudo.tech.
Keywords: Portfolio optimization, parameter uncertainty, Exposure Stacking, mean-CVaR, tail risk, mean-variance, efficient portfolio, efficient frontier, mean squared error, bias-variance trade-off, stacked generalization, quadratic programming, convex optimization, Python Programming Language.
JEL Classification: C00, C01, C02, C58, C60, C61, G00, G10, G11, G17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation