Essays in Financial Economics and Econometrics

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Essays in Financial Economics and Econometrics

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Title: Essays in Financial Economics and Econometrics
Author: Bates, Brandon
Citation: Bates, Brandon. 2011. Essays in Financial Economics and Econometrics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: In the first essay, I study the power of predictive regressions in a world of forecastable returns and find it to be quite poor. Using a simple model, I investigate the properties of short- and long-horizon regressions. The mechanisms biasing coefficients in short-horizon regressions differ from those affecting longer horizons. Further, I demonstrate that R\(^2s\) are biased and give an estimable bias correction. A calibration exercise shows sample lengths will be insufficient to determine what predicts asset returns until beyond the year 2100. The problem is not isolated to highly persistent predictors; even modestly persistent predictors have difficulties. Further, long-horizon regressions have inferior power relative to their single-period counterparts. These results present a predicament. If return predictability exists, then our ability to identify its source using predictive regressions alone is exceedingly poor. The second essay, written with James Stock and Mark Watson, considers the estimation of approximate dynamic factor models when there is temporal instability in the factors, factor loadings, and errors. We demonstrate that estimators for the factors and for the number of those factors are consistent for their population values even when affected by these instabilities. Further, we characterize the inferential theory in our framework for the estimated factors and for diffusion index forecasts and factor-augmented vector autoregressions that make use of the estimated factors. These results illustrate the broad robustness factor models have against temporal instability. In the third essay, co-author Peter Tufano and I consider the complex accounting rules, explicit fund sponsor supports, and government actions, that grant US money market mutual fund investors an implicit put option allowing them to redeem their shares at a fixed price of $1.00, regardless of the portfolio's market value. We describe the institutional features that generate these options, identify their writers, and estimate their premia. Using a hypothetical MMMF, we find that currently, non-redeeming shareholders, fund sponsors, and the government collectively bear annual premia of 22 to 44 basis points to give MMMF shareholders the right to redeem their shares at $1.00 rather than at the market value of the fund portfolio. These premia rose dramatically during the financial crisis, with the put value potentially being over 50 basis points.
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