Taking the Sting Out of Hedge Funds

Abstract: Although the inclusion of hedge funds in an investment portfolio can significantly improve that portfolio's mean-variance characteristics, it can also be expected to lead to significantly lower skewness and higher kurtosis. In this paper we show how this highly undesirable side-effect can be neutralized by allocating a fraction of wealth to out-of-the-money put options on the relevant equity index. Based on monthly return data over the period 1994-2001 we show that investors who want to fully eradicate the negative skewness of portfolios containing stocks, bonds and hedge funds will have to sacrifice a not insignificant part of their expected return. Investors who limit themselves to neutralizing only the additional skewness caused by the inclusion of hedge funds will be able to do so at much more favourable terms, however. The latter only need to allocate a small fraction of wealth to index puts and accept a drop in expected return that is unlikely to exceed 1% per annum, depending on the hedge fund allocation. This means that in the current low interest rate environment the costs of eliminating the unwanted skewness effect of hedge funds need not be prohibitively high.

Published on 6th September 2011
Authors Harry Kat
Series Reference 2002-22

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