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Published by Cần Huỳnh
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Published by: Cần Huỳnh on Aug 25, 2013
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1
Value-at-Risk Based Portfolio Optimization
Working Paper by
Amy v. Puelz
*
*
Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 75275apuelz@mail.cox.smu.edu, Tel: (214) 768-3151, Fax: (214) 768-4099
 
2
Value-at-Risk Based Portfolio Optimization
Abstract
The Value at Risk (VaR) metric, a widely reported and accepted measure of financial risk acrossindustry segments and market participants, is discrete by nature measuring the probability of worst case portfolio performance. In this paper I present four model frameworks that apply VaR to
ex ante
portfolio decisions. The mean-variance model, Young's (1998) minimax model andHiller and Eckstein's (1993) stochastic programming model are extended to incorporate VaR. Afourth model, that is new, implements stochastic programming with a return aggregationtechnique. Performance tests are conducted on the four models using empirical and simulateddata. The new model most closely matches the discrete nature of VaR exhibiting statisticallysuperior performance across the series of tests. Robustness tests of the four model forms provides support for the argument that VaR-based investment strategies lead to higher risk decision than those where the severity of worst case performance is also considered.
Keywords:
Finance, Investment analysis, Stochastic Optimization, Value at Risk 
 
3
Value-at-Risk Based Portfolio Optimization
1.Introduction
Generalized models for portfolio selection have evolved over the years from early mean-variance formats based on Markowitz's pioneering work (1959) to more recent scenario-basedstochastic optimization forms (Hiller and Eckstein, 1993; Birge and Rosa, 1995; Mulvey et al,1995; Bai et al, 1997; Vladimirou and Zenios, 1997; Cariño and Ziemba, 1998). Whether models are used for selecting portfolios for an investor's equity holdings, a firm's asset andliability combination, or a bank's derivative mix, the common thread in all model structures is theminimization of some measure of risk while simultaneously maximizing some measure of  performance. In most model frameworks the risk metric is a function of the entire range of  possible portfolio returns. For example, overall portfolio variance is used in a mean-varianceframework while concave utility functions are applied across the set of all possible outcomes instochastic programming frameworks. In many cases this exhaustive form of risk measurementdoes not accurately reflect the risk tolerance tastes of the individual or firm when there isconcern with downside risk such as the risk of extremely low returns or negative cash flows.A popularly embraced technique for measuring downside risk in a portfolio is Value atRisk (VaR). VaR is defined as the p
th
percentile of portfolio return at the end of the planninghorizon and for low p values (e.g. 1, 5 or 10) it can be thought of as identifying the "worst case"outcome of portfolio performance. Stambaugh (1996) outlines the uses of VaR as 1) providing acommon language for risk, 2) allowing for more effective and consistent internal risk management, risk limit setting and evaluation, 3) providing an enterprise-wide mechanism for external regulation, and 4) providing investors with a understandable tool for risk assessment.Moreover, VaR as a practical measure of risk has been accepted by managers of firms as an

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