Exponential weighting and random-matrix-theory-based filtering of financial covariance matrices for portfolio optimisation

15 February 2004

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We introduce a covariance matrix estimator that both takes into account the heteroskedasticity of financial returns (by using an exponentially weighted moving average) and reduces the effective dimensionality of the estimation (and hence measurement noise) via techniques borrowed from random matrix theory. We calculate the spectrum of large exponentially weighted random matrices (whose upper band edge needs to be known for the implementation of the estimation) analytically, by a procedure analogous to that used for standard random matrices. Finally, we illustrate, on empirical data, the superiority of the newly introduced estimator in a portfolio optimisation context over both the method of exponentially weighted moving averages and the uniformly-weighted random-matrix-theory-based filtering.


Szilard Pafka , Marc Potters , Imre Kondor