Syllabus and Reading list

University of Chicago Booth School of Business
35150 Advanced Investments -- John H. Cochrane Winter 2014

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Do the required readings before class. The problems for each week will use some facts from that week's reading, and we will discuss readings in class.

All papers will be here on this website. Lecture notes and problem sets are on the main class webpage. .

There is an “Optional / Additional reading suggestions” following the required readings.  Many of these are full-text versions of papers that I will mention in lecture. I’ll typically just show one table or picture. You’re not responsible for the paper. You are responsible for understanding the lecture discussions, table and/or picture. Other “not required” readings are further readings in some main topic areas, for your interest if you want to go deeper.

Important copyright notice: PDF files are distributed for class use only. You may not redistribute them, post them on the web, etc.

Note: you do not need to buy the whole book Asset Pricing. The assigned readings are all here. However, I won’t object if you do!

Outline and course policies and lots of other information Read before the first class

Before first class. Background

  1. Notes  This includes an investments review. Skim to make sure you know this stuff and where to find it when you need it later. This week, pay special attention to Chapters 2 (probability and statistics review, regressions, and especially time series) and 5 (everything you need to know about matrices).

Week 1-2. Returns are predictable over time; predictability and volatility; present value models.

  1. Asset Pricing Ch. 20, p. 389-404. “Time series predictability.”
  2. Cochrane, John, 2011, Discount rates Journal of Finance 66, 1047-1108 (August 2011). This week, read p. 1047-1058. This is a review paper, basically summing up a lot of this course. We'll read it all over the course of the quarter; feel free to read it at once to keep the themes in view, or to read the selections as they come.
  3. Week 1 detailed notes This week they are nearly a separate text. Read it. Update 1/10 p. 46-48 added.

Week 3. The cross section of stock returns; from CAPM to value, size, momentum and anomalies

  1. Fama Eugene F. and Kenneth R. French 1996, "Multifactor Explanations of Asset Pricing Anomalies", Journal of Finance 51, 55-84. Skip section V, 68-75.
  2. Fama, Eugene F., and Kenneth R. French 2006, “Dissecting AnomaliesJournal of Finance 63 (4) 1653-1678. An investigation of new anomalies that have cropped up since value. And a strong suspicion that many anomalies are only present in dusty corners of the market.
  3. Asset Pricing Ch 20 p. 422-453. Read 422-423, 435-453 now. We’ll come back to 424-435 later. My summary and interpretation of Fama and French.
  4. Cochrane, John, 2011, Discount rates p. 1058-1064.

Week 4. Additional variables that forecast stock returns.

  1. Novy-Marx, Robert, 2013, The Other Side of Value: The Gross Profitability PremiumJournal of Financial Economics 108(1), 2013, 1-28. Local link in case you have trouble with that one.
  2. Fama, Eugene F., and Kenneth R. French 2013, "A five-factor asset pricing model" SSRN link Finally, do the new variables correspond to new factors?
  3. Frazzini, Andrea, and Lasse H. Pedersen 2013 Betting against beta Section II-IV only; focus on Table III and IV. Skip the theory. (Extra:. Link to paper on Pedersen's webpage. Pedersen's slides.)
  4. Cochrane, John, 2011, Discount rates p. 1091-1095; 1097-1103

Week 5. Asset pricing theory and empirical methods

  1. Utility, discount factors, expected returns.  Asset Pricing  Ch 1 through 1.4 3-25Ch. 2, 35-45.
  2. Cochrane, John, 2011, Discount rates p. 1064-1072.
  3. (Optional) Asset Pricing Ch.12,  229-239; 243-250.  Lecture notes will cover what you need to know: what a time-series, cross-section and Fama-MacBeth regression are and how to use -- not derive -- formulas.

Week 6. Mutual funds

  1. Carhart, Mark M., 1997, “On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance,” Journal of Finance 52, 57-82.
  2. Fama, Eugene F. and Kenneth R. French, 2010, "Luck versus Skill in the Cross-Section of Mutual Fund Returns" Journal of Finance 65, 1915-1947. A brilliant new calculation based on the distribution of alphas.
  3. Cochrane, John, 2009, Note explaining Fama and French
  4. Berk, Jonathan, 2005" Five Myths of Active Portfolio Management," Journal of Portfolio Management, Vol. 31, pp. 27-31. This is only 6 pages, and summarizes Berk and Green in the optional reading below. If active management is so bad, why does it survive?

Week 7A. Hedge funds

  1. Mitchell, Mark and Todd Pulvino, 2001, “The characteristics of risk and return in risk arbitrage Journal of Finance 56, 2135-2176  Link through library Really about merger arbitrage, but a nice detailed example with many lessons, in particular how equity trading can result in option-like performance.
  2. Asness, Cifford, Robert Krail and John Liew, 2001, Do hedge funds hedge? Journal of Portfolio Management, 28 (Fall) 6-19. The main paper. Big points are the size of betas and how hard they are to measure.
  3. From alpha to smart beta. Economist. One page. Fun

Week 7B.  Liquidity, short sales constraints, downward-sloping "demand" curves.

  1. Lamont Owen, and Richard Thaler 2003, “Can the Market Add and Subtract?: Mispricing in Tech-StockCarve-Outs Journal of Political Economy 111: 227-268 Link through JPE online edition
  2. Cochrane, John H., “Stock as Money: Convenience Yield and the Tech-Stock Bubble” Manuscript. (Published in William C. Hunter, George G. Kaufman and Michael Pomerleano, Eds., Asset Price Bubbles Cambridge: MIT Press 2003. Alas, no pdf available.)

Week 8. Trading.

Price pressure, and example.

  1. Brandt Michael and Kenneth A. Kavajecz, 2004, “Price Discovery in the U.S. Treasury Market: The impact of Orderflow and Liquidity on the Yield Curve” Journal of Finance 59, (Dec) 2623-2654. Focus on Table IV through Table VII and surrounding discussion. Stop reading at section III p. 2644.

Two papers on high frequency trading. 

  1. Kirilenko, Andrei, Albert S. Kyle, Mehrdad Samadi, Tagkan Tuzun, 2011, "The Flash Crash: The Imact of High Frequency Trading on an Electronic Market" Manuscript. What the heck happened? You can skim the regressions. Digest the pictures. Don't miss the "discussion" on p. 35-38 (Section X).
  2. Budish, Eric, Peter Cramton and John Shim, 2013, The High-Frequency Trading Arms Race: Frequent Batch Auctions as a Market Design Response Read the empirical sections 1-5 only. Slides

Financial crisis. The most important lessons from the financial crisis are a) the possibility of runs in modern financial contracts b) small arbitrage opportunities than can open up when the usual active traders are out of the market.

  1. Duffie, Darrell, 2009, “The Failure Mechanics of Dealer Banks”  Journal of Economic Perspectives 24, 51–72. This is fantastic, both to understand nuts and bolts, why there were runs, and how these markets work. This has since become a book, see optional readings.
  2. Gorton, Gary, 2010, E-coli, Repo Madness, and the Financial Crisis Business Economics 45(3) 164-173. link to journal
  3. Cochrane, John, 2011, "Discount rates" p. 1069-1079. Some of the arbitrages, some of the theories, and a view that maybe the macro drives the frictions and maybe not the other way around.
  4. Cochrane, John H., 2013, "How to stop bank runs before they start'' Wall Street Journal. My bottom line on what regulation should do.

Week 9. Term structure.

  1. Asset Pricing Ch 19.1 349-354.  19.1 is background and review reading. You need to remember yields, forward rates, expectations hypothesis, and duration. The Notes also have a quick review of this material. (If you know dz and dt, I encourage you to read 19.5. It will make Veronesi’s course look like child’s play. However, the class discussion will be limited to discrete time models in order to avoid continuous time mathematics.) 
  2. Asset Pricing 20 p. p. 422-453. Read 20.1 426-435, “Bonds” and “Foreign Exchange”
  3. Cochrane, John H. and Monika Piazzesi, “Bond Risk Premia American Economic Review March 2005. Ignore section V “Tests.” (web only) Appendix to “Bond Risk Premia,” only read A.2-A.5, B.3
  4. Lustig, Hanno, Nikolai L. Roussanov, and Adrien Verdelhan, 2011, "Common Risk Factors in Currency Markets," Review of Financial Studies 24: 3731-3777 doi:10.1093/rfs/hhr068. Read only through p. 3750.
  5. Interest rate graphs and more interest rate graphs. These are two blog posts I did in the spring of 2013, and great (I think) examples of using expectations hypothesis and forward rates to guide thinking about where interest rates are going.

Week 10. Portfolio theory and practice.

  1. Cochrane, John H. 1999, “Portfolio Advice for a Multifactor WorldEconomic Perspectives Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago 23 (3) 59-78.
  2. Cochrane, John, 2011, Discount rates Journal of Finance 66, 1047-1108 (August 2011). p. 1079-1086

Optional. Strongly recommended. Goes beyond what I will cover in class. Just inspiring words, no equations

  1. Cochrane, John H., 2014, A Mean-Variance Benchmark for Intertemporal Portfolio Theory, Journal of Finance 69: 1–49. doi: 10.1111/jofi.12099 (February 2014) . p 1-11 only (up to "literature." You don't have to read the equations. The first page summarizes them). If you look at the long-run a lot of the difficult stuff goes away.
  2. Cochrane, John H., 2013, Finance: Function Matters, not Size Journal of Economic Perspectives 27, 29–5 This is another essay, written in response to "finance is too big" articles. I think through a lot of issues you've seen in this course, in particular how active management and portfolio formation work.
  3. Cochrane, John H. Is now the time to buy stocks? Manuscript version of my Nov 2008 WSJ editorial. The source of the dp vs. ex post return graph, and proof I got one call right: no, Dec 2008 was not the time to dump everything.


These are the original sources for many of the additional results I bring to class. These are also some classic additional readings you should look at if you get intersted in these topics.

Antti Ilmanen's book Expected Returns is an excellent summary of lots of things we do here, and also goes much further in some areas.

Stock returns are predictable over time.

Additional reading/review papers FYI

  1. Cochrane, John H., Financial Markets and the Real Economy p. 244-251. This covers some of the same material. It’s a more recent, more condensed but updated summary.
  2. Cochrane, John H., 2008, “The dog that did not bark: A defense of return predictability’’Review of Financial Studies 21 (4) 1533-1575. My last word on the statistical controversies.
  3. Sean D. Campbell, Morris A. Davis, Joshua Gallin, Robert F. Martin, (2009) "What moves housing markets: A variance decomposition of the rent–price ratio" Journal of Urban Economics 66, 90–102. I didn't know about this when I wrote "Discount Rates" but they do the price volatility regression for houses much better than I did.

The cross section of stock returns; from CAPM to value, size, momentum and anomalies

Main extra papers I plan to talk about in class

  1. Cliff Asness, Lasse Pedersen, and Tobias Moskowitz, 2012, Value and Momentum Everywhere, Moskowitz website , forthcoming Journal of Finance. Value and momentum exsit across asset classes and are negatively correlated. Is there one big value+momentum factor? (Data for value and momentum portfolios)

Dissecting momentum

  1. Is Momentum Really Momentum?Journal of Financial Economics 103(3), 2012, 429-453. No, as sorting on the first six months of the year does better than sorting on the second six months of the year.
  2. Kent Daniel, Ravi Jagannathan and Soohun Kim Tail Risk and Momentum Strategy Returns NBER Working paper 18169. Shows how momentum has infrequent huge losses. Data
  3. Tobias J. Moskowitz, Yao Hua Ooi, Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2012, Time series momentum, Journal of financial economics Volume 104, Issue 2, May 2012, Pages 228–250 html at sciencedirect; DOI link. This paper very nicely ties together the "time series" approach of running forecasting regressions with the "cross section" approach of making portfolios. They are the same thing! But time and portfolio dummies matter.
  4. Avramov, Doron, Tarun Chordia, Gergana Jostova and Alexander Philipov, 2007, “Momentum and Credit Rating” Manuscript. Momentum is primarily a phenomenon of low credit firms. Another “latest word on momentum” paper, showing how people are interacting momentum with other variables to better forecast returns
  5. Narasimhan Jegadeesh and Sheridan Titman 2011, Momentum, Annual Review of Financial Economics Vol. 3: 493-509 ( DOI: 10.1146/annurev-financial-102710-144850. A good, recent readable review of momentum. However, they forget that momentum is a factor not just a feature of indvidual returns.
  6. Lee, C. M. C. and B. Swaminathan (2000). "Price Momentum and Trading Volume." Journal of Finance 55(5): 2017-2069. Stop reading at section E p.2038 I’ll summarize the main point, which you have to dig out of the tables: a twin sort on volume and momentum gives a bigger spread in average returns, but is pretty well explained by hml betas (we don’t need a new factor). I put it here because cross-sorts involving past volume are a big part of many hedge fund models.

Additional or review papers on size, value, momentum

  1. Davis, James, Eugene F. Fama, and Kenneth R. French 2000, “Characteristics, Covariances, and Average Returns: 1929 to 1997Journal of Finance 55 389-406. Our problem set suggests that the characteristics (size, b/m) are more powerful predictors of returns than the betas. There’s nothing wrong with that; betas are not perfectly measured. Still, is it true? Here’s FF’s view of the issue.
  2. Fama, Eugene F. and Kenneth R. French 2011 Size, Value and Momentum in International Stock Returns, Journal of Financial Economics 105 (2012) 457–472. Always read the latest Fama French paper on anything.
  3. Cochrane, John H., Financial Markets and the Real Economy p. 251-257. This is mostly a summary of the Fama French paper.

Additional Variables that forecast stock returns

More on betting against beta

  1. Andrea Frazzini and Lasse Heje Pedersen (2012) Embedded Leverage Extends the arugment in "Betting against beta." People like me objected, if people want leverage, let them buy options. The claim here, options also have too low expected returns. "Strong evidence from index options, equity options, and leveraged ETFs."

  2. Asness, Clifford, Andrea Frazzini and Lasse Heje Pedersen (2013) Low risk investing without industry bets Refutes the idea that by sorting on beta they are really sorting on industry.

More on quality, earnings, etc.

  1. Novy-Marx, Robert, 2013, The Quality Dimension of Value Investing

300 forecasting variables!

  1. Campbell Harvey put together an excel spreadsheet with all 300 (!) variables claimed to forecast stock returns as of 2013. I found the link in his paper "...and the cross-section of expected returns" with Yan Lu. The paper makes the serious point that there is a lot of fishing going on.
  2. Robert Novy-Marx, 2013, Predicting anomaly performance with politics, the weather, global warming, sunspots, and the stars a colorful warning about fishing.
  3. Jonathan Lewellen 2013, "The cross section of expected stock returns" How well do these huge Fama MacBeth regressions of returns on to characteristics work out of sample?

Some high-frequency time-series forcasters::

  1. Tim Bollerslev, James Marrone, Lai Xu and Hao Zhou, 2011, "Stock Return Predictability and Variance RiskPremia: Statistical Inference and International Evidence" Skip right to table 4 and 5. They claim that the difference between realized and implied volatility can forecast stock returns, at short horizons. This is an example of the higher-frequency forecast variables that many hedge funds are using.
  2. Stefan Nagel, 2011, "Evaporating Liquidity" ( Local link) This one documents short-term reversal strategies, how they are "liquidity provision" strategies and highly correlated with volatility forecasts. Again, you can skip the theory and read the tables.

Equity premium and consumption based model

I used to do a half-lecture on equity premium, then other more interesting things intruded. Still, the question “will stocks outperform bonds in your lifetime?” “What is the market premium and why” are enduring, and you should think about them at some point.

  1. Equity premium and macroeconomic risks.  Asset Pricing Ch. 21.1. 455-474
  2. Cochrane, John H., Financial Markets and the Real Economy p. 257-26, p. 314. 

Real asset pricing is done in continuous time. If you're going to take this up, you need to learn dz and dt at some point. Here is a good start:

  1. Asset pricing in continuous time (notes for my PhD/online class)

I don't want to leave you with the feeling that the consumption model is hopeless. Here is my best effort, and a good recent paper which also illustrates a nice cross sectional regression

  1. Campbell, John Y. and John H. Cochrane, 199, By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior Journal of Political Economy, 107, 205-251
  2. Jagannathan, Ravi, and Yong Wang, 2007, Lazy Investors, Discretionary Consumption, and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns
    The Journal of Finance, 62 (4) 1623-1661, also at JSTOR The consumption CAPM works quite well from December to December.

Mutual funds

Papers I plan to mention in class:

  1. Berk, Jonathan and Jules H. van Binsbergen, 2013, "Measuring Managerial Skill in the Mutual Fund Industry" Manuscript. A retort to Fama and French. They measure skill by gross alpha times assets under management. 1 bp alpha on $1 billion is a lot. The use tradeable benchmarks, and also use only benchmarks available at the time in vanguard funds. Voila' lots of skill.
  2. Davis, James, L., 2001, “Mutual Fund Performance and Manager Style” Financial Analysts Journal. 57, 19-27 Link through library This is a cool little paper, and I will present the main table in class. Sort funds based on their HML betas, in the same way that Carhart sorted based on past return. It turns out that growth funds actually seem to beat the terrible returns of the growth portfolio. Perhaps the story of "we can find alpha in growth stocks" has some merit.
  3. Judith Chevalier; Glenn Ellison , “Are Some Mutual Fund Managers Better than Others? Cross-Sectional Patterns in Behavior and Performance,” The Journal of Finance, Vol. 54, No. 3. (Jun., 1999), pp. 875-899. Link through JSTOR  Performance ought to be about managers. Do managers with MBAs do better? No, alas
  4. Judith Chevalier; Glenn Ellison , “Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives,The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 105, No. 6. (Dec., 1997), pp. 1167-1200.  Link through JSTOR  This has the great graph I show in class, showing how good returns lead to more money. The "flow-performace" puzzle is central to a charge of irrational investors, and the central observation that Berk and Green want to refute.
  5. Frazzini, Andrea, Lauren Cohen and Christopher Malloy, 2008 “The Small World of Investing: Board Connections and Mutual Fund Return” Journal of Political Economy 16. Mutual fund managers who went to HBS put a lot of money in companies headed by HBS classmates -- and do surprisingly well in those investments. Alas, you didn't go there. You'll have to learn some finance instead of just networking to get inside information.

Just for fun

  1. Andrea Frazzini, David Kabiller and Lasse Heje Pedersen (2012) Buffett‛s Alpha, "Berkshires‛ leverage is about 1.6-to-1 on average. Berkshires' returns can thus largely be explained by the use of leverage combined with exposures to Betting-Against-Beta and quality minus junk factors"
  2. Insider Monkey: Warren Buffett's style drift and Warren Buffett's alpha;

More great mutual fund papers

  1. French, Kenneth R., "Presidential Address: The Cost of Active Investing," Journal of Finance 63 (4) 1537-1573 (2008). The average investor has to hold the market, so alpha is a zero-sum game. We need to think about the contrast between this and Berk's view.
  2. Kruger, Samuel A., 2007, “Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance: Analysis of Holdings Returns”, manuscript, University of Chicago. This was a student paper for Fama’s research class. Kruger replicates Carhart, extending data as we do, and using the returns on reported fund holdings rather than fund returns. This allows him to see if transactions costs and expenses really do account for Carhart’s bad alphas. They do. So the puzzle of the negative alphas is solved
  3. Chen, Hsiu-Lang, Narasimhan Jegadeesh, and  Russ Wermers, 2000, “The Value of Active Mutual Fund Management: An Examination of the Stockholdings and Trades of Fund ManagersThe Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Vol. 35, No. 3. (Sep., 2000), pp. 343-368. One of the cool things going on in mutual fund research is that we now have holdings data, so we can see what they do. This nice paper looks at what funds hold and what they trade. It checks how stocks do after fund managers buy them. Funds buy stocks after they went up; this gives them some momentum success.
  4. Marcin Kacperczyk, Clemens Sialm, Lu Zheng, 2005, “Unobserved Actions of Mutual Funds”, NBER  Working Paper 11766 Another paper exploiting the holdings data. We see holdings once per quarter. How do actual returns differ from holding the disclosed portfolio without further trading? Does the trading add anything?
  5. Cremers, Martijn and Antti Pettajisto, 2010, How Active is you Fund Manager? A new measure that predicts performance Review of Financial Studies, 2009, 22(9):3329-3365. Another paper using holdings data. Funds are "Active" whose holdings deviate a lot from benchmarks. They find "active" funds outperform! But then there's a fight with Carhart about benchmarks.
  6. Carhart, Mark M., Ron Kaniel, David K. Musto and Adam V. Reed, 2002 “Leaning for the Tape: Evidence of Gaming Behavior in Equity Mutual FundsJournal of Finance LVII (2) 661-691.Funds seem to push up some stock prices at the end of the year in order to make their NAVs look good and get the flows documented by Chevalier & Ellison. Interestingly, being in the top rank is more important than beating the S&P or other goals.
  7. Jonathan B. Berk and Richard C. Green, 2004 “Mutual fund flows and performance in rational marketsJournal of Political Economy 112, 1269-1295. This is the long version of "Five Myths." It's a very nice economic model of the puzzling fact that funds with good past returns get more money. No, you don’t need irrational investors to generate the facts.
  8. Berk, Jonathan and Richard Stanton, “Managerial Ability, Compensation, and the closed-end fund discount” Journal of Finance 62, 529-556. Extends the argument to closed end funds.
  9. David Blitz, Joop Huij 2012 Another Look at the Performance of Actively Managed Equity Mutual Funds Passive funds can't attain the same performance as Fama French factors, so take the overall level of alphas with a grain of salt.
  10. Lauren Cohen, Christopher Malloy and Andrea Frazzini (2010) Sell Side School Ties, Journal of Finance 65, 1409-1437. Analysts outperform by up to 6.60% per year on their stock recommendations when they have an educational link to the company. Similar to

    "board connections" above but for analysts.

Hedge funds

Papers I will draw on in class:

  1. Cochrane, John, 2011, Hedge Funds. This is a powerpoint presentation I put together to summarize the lessons of this class. There are a lot of important issues that I will skip, especially the incentives implied by option contracts and the issues that arise when you put hedge funds in a portfolio.
  2. Agarwal, Vikas and Narayan Naik, 2004, “Risk and Portfolio Decisions Involving Hedge FundsReview of Financial Studies. 17: 63 - 98.  Skim the introduction and skip section 5. Just focus on Table 4 and 5 of performance evaluation. They do a good job of constructing an option-writing factor.
  3. Malkiel, Burton , and Atanu Saha, 2005, “Hedge Funds: Risk and Return,” Financial Analysts Journal 61 (6) 80-89. Documents selection bias.
  4. Lo, Andrew W., 2001, “Risk Management for Hedge Funds: Introduction and Overview” Financial Analysts Journal. This is a nice overview of fat tails, survivor bias, etc. and what it means for hedge fund evaluation.
  5. How you could easily have uncovered Madoff with a simple regression! The graph of Madoff returns vs. S&P 500 really says it all.

More great hedge fund papers

  1. Stulz, Rene, 2007, “Hedge Funds: Past, Present and Future,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21(2) 175-194. This is a good overview. Lite reading.
  2. Raphael Douady, Adil Abdulali, and Ingmar Adlerberg "The Madoff Case: Quantitative Beats Qualitative!"
  3. William N. Goetzmann, Sharon Oster, 2012, Competition Among University Endowments, NBER working paper 18173. University endowments care not so much about absolute money, but about having more than their competitors. They document this, and endowments betting the farm on hedge funds to catch up. It's an interesting insight to the question, who invests in hedge funds and why?
  4. Asness, Clifford, 2004, “An Alternative Future Part II: An Exploration of the Role of Hedge Funds.” Journal of Portfolio Management, Fall 2004, v. 31, iss. 1, pp. 8-23. Beautiful exposition of where funds are, where they’re going, and why they’re likely to stick around. Disagrees a lot with Stulz.
  5. Cassar, Gavin and Joseph Gerakos, 2009, “Hedge funds: pricing controls and the smoothing of self-reported returns,” (You can skip “robustness tests” p. 27-31.) Is autocorrelation in fund returns a sign of illiquidity or report management? They split up hedge funds by how much discretion managers have over return reporting, to see if more discretion means more autocorrelation. It's not as strong as you might think, suggesting illiquidity rather than results management.
  6. Lo, Andrew W. 2009, Hedge funds: an analytic perspective. A whole book of Andy’s wisdom on Hedge funds.
  7. Naik, Narayan Y., 2006, “Why is Santa so Kind to Hedge Funds?’’ Manuscript, London Business School . “Leaning for the tape” in hedge funds. With illiquid and hard to value assets, NAVs rise suspiciously at Christmas.
  8. French, Craig, Damian Ko and Vivek Jindal 2006, "The Topography of Hedge Fund Returns" Manuscript. When you're tired, look at this one. It's just lots of pretty pictures summarizing hedge fund returns.
  9. What's it all about, alpha? Mar 22nd 2007 The Economist This piece captures some of my schizophrenic feelings about hedge fund performance evaluation.
  10. Hasanhodzic, Jasmina and Andrew W. Lo, 2007, “Can Hedge-Fund Returns be Replicated?: The Linear CaseJournal of Investment Management 5(2) 5-45. This paper goes on and on, but there are some interesting points in Table 5 and 7 and associated figures. They look at individual funds, not indices. There is a lot of variety in HF betas across funds. The most interesting numbers are the autocorrelations. Hedge funds returns are very autocorrelated!
  11. Hasanhodzic, Jasmina, and Andrew W. Lo, 2006, “Attack of the clones”, Institutional Investor’s Alpha June 2006. Popular version of the previous paper. Description of new "exotic beta" products.
  12. Schmid, Markus and Samuel Manser, 2008, "The performance persistence of equity long/short hedge funds" Manuscript. Like Carhart did for mutual funds, applied to hedge funds.
  13. Jakub Jurek, and Erik Stafford, 2012, The Cost of Capital for Alternative Investments, forthcoming Journal of Finance. A more sophisticated replication of the overall hedge fund portfolio to a short-put passive strategy. Table III last column shows put writing accounts for all the alpha

Will Gotezmann and Yale teaches a whole class on hedge funds. Here is his reading list and outline

Liquidity, short sales constraints, downward sloping demand curves


  1. Cochrane, John, 2004, Liquidity, Trading and Asset Prices, NBER Reporter. This is a summary of what I know about liquidity and trading.

Short sales constraints:

  1. Here we go again..From Wall Street Journal: Shorting Facebook Is a Pricey Proposition, For Now (WSJ) May 23, 2012, 1:41 PM; Shorting Facebook Quickly Goes From Pricey to Cheap May 23, 2012 3:06 PM (WSJ); Short Sellers Find Friends in Banks May 24, 2012, 8:39 p.m. (WSJ)
  2. D'Avolio, Gene, 2002, The Market For Borrowing Stock, Journal of Financial Economics 66(2-3) 271-306. A very clear explanation of the short market, and fairly comprehensive tests for overpricing.
  3. Lamont, Owen, (2012) “Go Down Fighting: Short Sellers vs. FirmsReview of Asset Pricing Studies 2 (1):1-30. link to journal Manuscript, Yale University. Real fun. An alpha prize, but you can’t trade on it. This is, I think, the biggest documented inefficiency in Finance.
  4. Rich Karlgaarda, January 3 2012 Wall Street Journal, A short seller takes on a vitamin vendor. ( link to WSJ ) A new data point for Lamont. Short seller exposes pyramid scheme.
  5. Lamont, Owen, and Jeremy C Stein, "Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations"  American Economic Review, May 2004. This shows a puzzle: short interest is not very high at peaks. Their view: shorts get wiped out on the way up. My view: few people who want to short the index do so by shorting individual stocks. Still, a good fact to know. In Oct 2008, it seems that longs got wiped out on the way down!
  6. Lamont, Owen, Short Sale Constraints and Overpricing Manuscript Yale University. An easy-to-read summary
  7. Boehmer, Ekkehart, Charles M. Jones and Xiaoyan Zhang, 2008, "Which Shorts are Informed?" Journal of Finance 63 (2) 491-527. The latest on short sales, and which category of investor’s short decisions are followed by poor returns. Interesting in that poor returns should follow a short constraint, i.e. unrequited desire to short. Poor returns should not follow a lot of shorting; the shorting should lower the price right away.
  8. Cohen, Lauren, Karl Diether and Christopher Malloy, 2006, “Supply and Demand Shifts in the Shorting Market” Forthcoming Journal of Finance. This is a really nice analysis based on the short lending program of a big quasi-passive investment firm.
  9. Battalio, Robert and Paul Schultz, 2009, “Regulatory Uncertainty and Market Liquidity: The 2008 Short Sale Ban’s Impact on Equity Option Markets,” Manuscript, University of Notre Dame. In the financial crisis, our fearless leaders had the brilliant idea of banning short-sales of bank stocks. This paper examines how it all worked out.
  10. Ekkehart Boehmer, Charles Jones, Xiaoyan Zhang 2010 Shackling Short Sellers: The 2008 Shorting Ban Columbia University Research Paper Series No. 34-09. Another nice analysis of the short-sale ban in 2008. Did it prop up prices? Even if you can't short, you can sell, why didn't everyone sell? Getting rid of the shorts dramatically reduces market liquidity. Not in the paper, the short ban also threw a monkey wrench in many trading strategies, with dire consequences for many financial firms and hedge funds. Regulators quickly exempted dealers from the short ban, allowing the dealers to clean up. Merry Christmas.
  11. Steven N. Kaplan, Tobias J. Moskowitz, and Berk A. Sensoy, 2010, "The Effects of Stock Lending on Security Prices: An Experiment" Forthcoming, Journal of Finance. They convinced a large manager to randomly offer for short some stocks with high demand. No effects on prices.

Arbitrages -- the same thing selling for two different prices.

  1. Mei, Jianping, José Scheinkman and Wei Xiong, 2009, Speculative Trading and Stock Prices: Evidence from Chinese A-B Share Premia Annals of Economics and Finance 10, 225-255. This nice paper shows many of the points in “Stocks as money” hold in Chinese A-B shares.
  2. Kalok Chan, Albert J. Menkveld, Zhishu Yang, " Information Asymmetry and Asset Prices: Evidence from the China Foreign Share Discount" Journal of Finance 63(1) 159-196. Another paper on this cool phenomenon.
  3. Maymin, Phillip, "Self-imposed limits to arbitrageJournal of Applied Finance 2011, vol. 21, no. 2, pp.88-105. HSBC had two classes of shares, whih sold for up to 10% different prices. On the same exchange.

Price pressure, downward sloping demand, etc.

  1. Mitchell, Mark, Todd Pulvino and Erik Stafford, 2004, “Price Pressure Around Mergers” Journal of Finance, 59, 31-63. Stafford’s website Arbitrageurs move prices around merger announcements.
  2. Shleifer, Andrei, 1986, “Do Demand Curves for Stocks Slope Down?” The Journal of Finance, 41, 579-590. Inclusion in the S&P500 raises your price a bit. Famous as one of the first "demand curve for stocks slopes down" papers. Cool, but the glass still is 99% full. 
  3. Nicholas Barberis Andrei Shleifer  and Jeffrey Wurgler, 2005 “ComovementJournal of Financial Economics  75,  283-317   This follows up on Shleifer’s original, showing stocks start to move together more when they get included.
  4. Mitchell, Mark , Lasse Heje Pedersen, and Todd Pulvino. 2007. "Slow-Moving Capital." American Economic Review, 97(2): 215–220. DOI:10.1257/aer.97.2.215 Hedge funds that specialize in convertible arb get wiped out. Spreads widen. It takes a while for the multi-strategy funds to move in. (Not required: Slides) This is about the period before the crash, but the mechanism is the same.

Fixed income price pressure, arbitrage, liquidity etc. (I may refer back to these during the fixed income lecture)

  1. Robin Greenwood and Dimitri Vayanos, 2010, "Price Pressure in the Government Bond Market" American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 100 , 585–590. AEA link. Two nice experiments: The UK told pension funds to buy long term bonds, and the US changed its maturity structure. Both seem to have affected bond prices.
  2. Arvind Krishnamurthy and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2012, The Aggregate Demand for Treasury Debt, Jstor link Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 120, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 233-267. See Figure 1. The paper suggests that something very like money demand occurs for long-term Treasury debt.
  3. Grace Xing Hu, Jun Pan, and Jiang Wang 2012, "Noise as Information for Illiquidity," Manuscript. times when dealers have less cash show larger "arbitrage" spreads in the yield curve, and forecast higher returns from arbitrage strategies.
  4. Matthias Fleckensteinm Francis A. Longstaff, Hanno Lustig (2010) "Why Does the Treasury Issue Tips? The TIPS-Treasury Bond Puzzle" UCLA link A large fixed income "arbitrage." There is a huge arbitrage available by shorting Treasuries (once again), buying TIPS (less liquid) and buying inflation swaps. "Supply" variables are important in this spread, and many similar "arbitrage spreads" open up at the same time. Authors suspect mispricing of Tips, I suspect mispricing of inflation swaps, but it's a cool puzzle in any case.
  5. Francis A. Longstaff   2004, "The Flight to Liquidity Premium in U.S. Treasury Bond PricesJournal of Business 77, 511-526, 2004, Contrasts treasury bonds with identical Refcorp bonds to isolate the liquidity premium.
  6. Beber, Alessandro, Michael W. Brandt, and Kenneth A. Kavajecz, 2008, “Flight-to-Quality or Flight-to-Liquidity? Evidence from the Euro-Area Bond Market,” Review of Financial Studies. As in Longstaff, a nice decomposition of quality vs. liquidity in bond markets.
  7. Duarte, Jefferson, Francis Longstaff and Fan Yu, 2006 Risk and Return in Fixed Income Arbitrage: Nickels in Front of a Steamroller? Review of Financial Studies 20,769-811 This paper has a great description of the fixed-income "arbitrage" strategies. It finds alpha, and especially in "difficult" to execute strategies that require modeling. Curiously, it finds postively skewed returns, not option-writing. Why demoted to optional readings? It stops in 2006. I suspect that all of these strategies fell apart monstrously in the crisis. Just read them and you can tell -- the first strategy relies on libor-repo rates being different; Another relies on buying MBS and hedging interest rate risk. So this is a great paper to read to understand the strategies, but I wouldn't bet a nickel on the results!


  1. Andrei A. Kirilenko and Andrew W. Lo (2013) Moore’s Law versus Murphy’s Law: Algorithmic Trading and Its Discontents  Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(2): 51-72. This has very nice capusle stories of the flash crash, the 2007 quant meltdown, the Facebook IPO and lots of other recent trading meltdowns.
  2. Joel Hasbrouck and Gideon Saar, 2013, Low-Latency Trading, Forthcoming, Journal of Financial Markets. SSRN link Finally, an academic paper on what millisecond trading is all about. Read p.1-17 and 33-37. The rest (really the meat of the paper) is a set of regressions designed to see if low-latency trading helps or hurts the markets. That's a bigger question than we have time for, I'm only assigning this as a description of the markets. Don't miss Table 2 and Figure 1 and 2.
  3. Green, Richard C., Dan Li, and Norman Schurhoff, 2010, "Price Discovery in Illiquid Markts: Do Financial Asset Prices Rise Faster than they Fall?" Journal of Finance LXV 1669 ff . This is a realy cool paper about the municipal bond market. It doesn't work anything like the Treasury market in Brandt et al. Dealers buy from big customers and sell to small types, so they pass along price increases quickly, but only pass along price decreases slowly. This gives some concrete sense about what dealers do and how they make money.
  4. Brad M. Barber Yi-Tsung Lee Yu-Jane Liu Terrance Odean, 2008, Just How Much Do Individual Investors Lose by Trading? The Review of Financial Studies 22, 609-632. Individuals lose, on aggressive trades. Institutions take their money.
  5. Matthew Baron Jonathan Brogaard Andrei Kirilenko, 2012 The Trading Profits of High Frequency Traders manuscript. Table 3 is the best, documenting who takes money from who. "Liquidity-taking" active funds seem to be the winners. Slides
  6. Kaniel, Ron, Giedon Saar and Sheridan Titman, 2008, "Individual Investor Trading and Stock Returns," Journal of Finance 63, 273-310. When institutions sell, individuals buy.
  7. Randall Dodd, Opaque Trades IMF Finance and Development 2010. An overview of modern trading
  8. Economist, What Caused the Flash Crash? (local link) Economist magazine, Oct 1 201

Art in high frequency markets:

  1. Sawtooth trading WSJ;
  2. Weird stuff in high frequency markets and More weird behavior in high frequency markets from my grumpy economist blog. WTF?
  3. Nanex has devoted itself to making picutres of high frequency markets run amok.
    1. Strange Days June 8'th, 2011 - NatGas Algo (
    2. Knightmare on Wall Street
    3. Here is their Main nanex research page with hundreds of pictures.

Financial Crisis

There is a huge amount being written on the financial crisis of course. These struck me as particularly good:

  1. Gorton, Gary B., and Andrew Metrick, Getting up to Speed on the Financial Crisis: A One-Weekend-Reader’s Guide
  2. Journal of Economic Literature, 50(1): 128-50. A good overview of literature.
  3. Gorton, Gary B., and Andrew Metrick, 2009, “Securitized Banking and the Run on Repo” Forthcoming, Journal of Financial Econcomics. Only read to p. 18. A deeper analysis of how repos are "money" and a run on repo is like a "systemic" bank run.
  4. Gorton, Gary B., and Andrew Metrick, 2009, “Haircuts”, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review Nov/Dec 2010, 507-520. More detail on the rise in repo haircuts in teh financial crisis.
  5. Swagel, Phillip, 2009, “The finanical crisis: An inside view” Forthcoming Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. This is a nice view of the political and legal constraints as well as the government’s perspective. Not really asset pricing, so not on the main list, but if you want to understand why the government did apparently crazy things, go here.
  6. Brunermeier, Markus, 2009, “Deciphering the Liquidity and Credit Crunch 2007-2009Journal of Economic Perspectives 23 77-100. (Optional longer version with more graphs) The chronology is good. I'm dubious about the "mechanisms" p. 91-99, but they are common stories.
  7. Gorton, Gary B, 2010, Questions and Answers about the Financial Crisis Manuscript, Prepared for the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
  8. Bernanke, Ben S., 2010, Statement before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, web version From the guy at the top. Once I read it closely it had a lot less insight than I remembered.  
  9. Wallison, Peter, Dissent from the Majority Report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Jan 14 2011. If you want a "root cause" it's government housing policy. I focus on the "run" as propagating mechanism, but this is really damning on the "root cause" issue.

Arbitrages in the crisis: (Also see previous week)

  1. Baba, Naohiko and Frank Packer, 2009, “Interpreting deviations from covered interest parity during the financial market turmoil of 2007-2008” BIS Working paper 267 ssrn
  2. CDS negative basis blog post
  3. Fontana, Alessandro, 2010 The persistent negative CDS-bond basis during the 2007/08 Financial crisis Alessandro Fontana Department of Economics, University Ca' Foscari, Venice
  4. Nicolae Garleanu and Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2010 “Margin-Based Asset Pricing and Deviations from the Law of One Price”, working paper, New York University, forthcoming Review of Financial Studies. Skip the theory, but nice pictures at the end of arbitrage between corporate bonds and treasury bonds


  1. Sqam Lake Working Group, 2010, Prime Brokers and Derivatives Delers. This is the short squam version; since we read Duffie in class it repeats the main points.
  2. Duffie, Darrell, 2010 "How big banks fail, and what to do about it" The book version of "Failure mechanics"
  3. Corzine Firm's Final Struggles Wall Street Journal Nov. 5 2011. What, you thought it couldn't happen again? This is a good case study to compare to Duffie's paper. ( Hilarious Daly Show clip on MF Global)
  4. Lehman's Demise and Repo 105 Knowledge@wharton report. How Lehman dressed its windows -- and MF global did the same thing later.


  1. Cochrane, John H, Lessons from the financial crisis Jan 2010  Regulation 32(4), 34-37. In my view, solving TBTF expectations is the crucial policy challenge, and “regulation” with a broader TBTF guarantee isn’t going to do it.
  2. Duffie, Darrell, 2009, “How Should we regulate derivatives markets?” Pew Financial reform project Briefing Paper 5 Pew link
  3. Duffie, Darrell, 2009, “Policy Issues Facing the Market for Credit Derivatives” in The Road Ahead for the Fed, edited by John D. Ciorciari and John B. Taylor, Hoover Institution Press, 2009. This is a short, very clear overview of the CDS issue. No, exchanges are not the magic bullet.
  4. Squam Lake Working Group, “Credit Default Swaps, Clearinghouses and Exchanges”  2009

Structured products, repos, runs

  1. Gorton, Gary, 2008, "The Subprime Panic " Manuscript, Yale University, forthcoming European Financial Management. This has a good summary of how subprime mortgages and complex structures actually worked. I don't totally buy the "obscure assets" and information story, that the ABX index forced marks to market, but it's well worth reading.
  2. Coval, Joshua, Jakub Jurek and Erik Stafford, "The economics of structured finance,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23:1, 3-26. A nice piece showing how tranches of securitized debt end up creating index options – same probability of default, more systemic and hence higher priced risk.
  3. Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2009, “How Debt Markets Have Malfunctioned in the Crisis” Winter 2010 Journal of Economic Perspectives. A simple overview of repo and other debt markets, and some little arbitrages. I don’t buy the “spirals” but the description is good.
  4. Covitz, Daniel M., Nellie Liang and Gustavo Suarez, 2009, “The Evolution of a Financial Crisis: Panic in the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Market” Manuscript, Federal Reserve Board. SSRN Empirical work in the asset-backed commercial paper market showing how ABCB is prone to “runs” like old-fashioned bank accounts.


  1. Cochrane, John H., The Monster Returns Will the silly idea of buying up “toxic assets” not go away?
  2. Cochrane, John H. and Luigi Zingales Lehman and the Financial Crisis September 15 2009 We don’t buy the “all would have been fine if they bailed out Lehman” line.
  3. Did “Efficient Markets Cause the Crash,” and does the crash prove behavioral was right all along?  Fama and French refute this silliness on their blog, and Ray Ball wrote a beautiful essay, and I have a few choice words in a longer response to Krugman's New York Times Magazine Article on the crash. By the way the Fama and French Q&A is great reading on all sorts of finance issues.
  4. Cochrane, John H. Asset pricing after the crash   March 20 2009 This is a piece based on a panel discussion titled “Rethinking asset pricing” at the Spring 2009 NBER Asset Pricing meeting. It includes sceptical views on just how important credit constraints and liquidity really are. Liquidity is the frosting on the cake of finance. There is a lot of frosting these days, but still some cake.
  5. Berkshire Hathaway Letter This is beautifully written and I agree with almost all of it, and illustrates Buffet’s thinking in the depth of the crisis. Buffet’s views on writing insurance are a real high point. Part of my “put option” writing sermon was that writing put options is a good business, if you are transparent about the risks. Buffet is. However, he makes a great point that municipalities are much more likely to default if they know an insurer will lose money rather than if their own taxpayers and voters will lose money, so that historical default probabilities are a poor guide. The only place he gets it a little bit wrong is in the last diatribe against the Black-Scholes formula at the end.  He forgot about “state prices.” A parachute, delivered to row 3b in the event that the back of the plane blew up, is worth a lot more than the $1000 it costs to order a parachute online. Similarly, the value of any promise to pay something in the state of the world that the S&P is lower 99 years from now than today (essentially, the economy is back to the stone age) is worth a lot more than probability x dollar suggests.

Anything written by Doug Diamond, Raghu Rajan, Anil Kashyap, Luigi Zingales Darrell Duffie and Gary Gorton is worth reading. Even when I disagree with them, I learn a lot.

Term structure/Exchange rates

The Fama-French approach comes to bond markets and foreign exchange.

  1. Lustig, Hanno, Nikolai L. Roussanov, and Adrien Verdelhan, 2011, "Common Risk Factors in Currency Markets," Review of Financial Studies 24: 3731-3777 doi:10.1093/rfs/hhr068. Read only through p. 3750.
  2. Nozawa, Yoshio, 2012 Corporate Bond Premia. The Fama-French approach (sort into portfolios HML factor) applied to corporate bonds.
  3. Craig Burnside, Martin Eichenbaum, and Sergio Rebelo "Understanding the Profitability of Currency-Trading Strategies" NBER Reporter 2012 Number 3. A short, readable summary of their work. They emphasize currency momentum as well as carry trade, see also Moskowitz and Asness "value and momentum everywhere," and address fat tails.

Expectations hypothesis and its failures

  1. Hassan, Tarek, and Rui Mano, 2013, "Forward and Spot Exchange Rates in a Multi-Currency World" Manuscript, Chicago Booth. The latest and finally making sense of time dummies vs. country dummies (country-by-country regressions vs. portfolios).
  2. Jurek, Jakub, 2013, "Crash-Nuetral Currency Carry Trades," Manuscript Princeton Univeristy. Tables I, II, Fig. 1 and Fig 8. are the important parts. They should be pretty self-explanatory. Understanding the "pooled" and "XS" last two rows of Table I is the only subtlety. The idea here is that it seemed you could enhance carry trades by buying put options and still make money. The crash really creamed the carry trade since foreig interest rates were higher than dollar rates, but the flight to quality made the dollar go up.
  3. Burnside, Craig, Martin Eichenbaum, and Sergio Rebelo, 2008, “ Do Peso Problems Explain the Returns to the Carry Trade? Manuscript, Northwestern University.
  4. Burnside, Eichenbaum and Rebelo have a string of papers ("Microstructure approach," Emerging Markets," "Returns to currency specualtion") that say bid/ask spreads explain the carry trade. I don't agree, see Cochrane,  Comments on “The Returns to Currency Speculation”  if you’re curious.. Still, I salute people taking transactions costs seriously.
  5. Comments on ‘Macroeconomic Implications of Changes in the Term Premium’ My thoughts on the “Conundrum” and some deeper analysis of term structure than we’ll have time for in class.

Term structure models

  1. Cochrane, John H. and Monika Piazzesi 2008, Decomposing the Yield Curve, Manuscript. Extends our understanding of risk premia to multiple horizons and an "affine" model.
  2. Pancost, N. Aaron (2012) "Zero-CouponYields and the Cross-Section of Bond Prices" Great paper. Fits a term structure model to the underlying data, not pre-processed zero curves. Shows a lot of what was going on Dec 2008. Source of pretty graphs shown in lecture

Portfolio theory.

  1. Review Notes Ch. 4 on maximization

A "real" treatment of portoflio theory and a reference

  1. Cochrane, John H., 2007, “Portfolio theory” draft of a new chapter for Asset Pricing. All the math especially for intertemporal portfolio theory.
  2. Cochrane, John H., Portfolio Formation in the new Financial World October 6,8  2009 Slides for a talk I gave covering all the portfolio theory points. Short simple version

An important case

  1. Ang, Andrew "Liquidating Harvard," Columbia University Case. Our endowment, and Harvard's, went on a fire sale in December 2008. Why? (I had to remove the link and file since it's copyrighted.)

How to find additional academic papers. You must be connected to the Booth network or enable the proxy server mechanism on your own machine. I 1: go to the library catalog. 2. Use the “journal alphabetical” search to find the journal. 3. There will be an “electronic resource” link to the online issues. 4. Find the issue you want and download.