Daily Academic Alpha: Higher Moments in Hedge Funds
Last updated on January 18th, 2017 at 02:20 pm
This paper singles out the key roles of US equity skewness and kurtosis in the hedge fund return generating process. We propose a conditional higher‐moment model with location, trading, and higher‐moment factors to describe the dynamics of the equity hedge, event‐driven, relative value, and fund of funds styles. If the volatility, skewness, and kurtosis implied in US options are used by fund managers as instruments to anticipate market movements, managers should adjust their market exposure in response to variations in these moments. We indeed show that higher‐moment premia improve the conditional asset pricing model across all hedge fund styles.
This paper investigates empirically whether uncertainty about the expected returns on the market portfolio can explain the performance of hedge funds both in the cross-section and over time. We measure uncertainty via volatility of aggregate volatility (VOV) and construct an investable version of this measure by computing monthly returns on lookback straddles written on the VIX index. We find that VOV exposure is a significant determinant of hedge fund returns at the overall index level, at different strategy levels, and at an individual fund level. We find that funds with low (more negative) VOV betas outperform funds with high VOV betas by 1.62% per month. After controlling for a large set of fund characteristics, we document a robust and significant negative risk premium for VOV exposure in the cross-section of hedge fund returns. We further show that strategies with less negative VOV betas outperform their counterparts during the financial crisis period when uncertainty about expected returns was at its highest. On the contrary, strategies with more negative VOV betas generate superior returns when uncertainty in the market is less. Furthermore, the variation in the VOV betas is consistent with the risk-taking incentives of hedge funds arising from the different fund characteristics including their contractual features.
This paper investigates the determinants of the average level of risk of hedge funds, which provide high liquidity to their investors and report their returns on a daily basis. We find that larger funds and funds charging higher incentive fees exhibit lower risk, whereas funds charging higher management fees, imposing longer notice periods, and stemming from large fund-families take more risk. There is considerable variation in the risk levels between funds reporting in Euro and USD, with Euro funds being consistently less risky, suggesting that these funds target different types of investors with other preferences.
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