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Size matters: optimal calibration of shrinkage estimators for portfolio selection

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Banking and Finance
Issue number8
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)3018-3034
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We carry out a comprehensive investigation of shrinkage estimators for asset allocation, and we find that size matters-the shrinkage intensity plays a significant role in the performance of the resulting estimated optimal portfolios. We study both portfolios computed from shrinkage estimators of the moments of asset returns (shrinkage moments), as well as shrinkage portfolios obtained by shrinking the portfolio weights directly. We make several contributions in this field. First, we propose two novel calibration criteria for the vector of means and the inverse covariance matrix. Second, for the covariance matrix we propose a novel calibration criterion that takes the condition number optimally into account. Third, for shrinkage portfolios we study two novel calibration criteria. Fourth, we propose a simple multivariate smoothed bootstrap approach to construct the optimal shrinkage intensity. Finally, we carry out an extensive out-of-sample analysis with simulated and empirical datasets, and we characterize the performance of the different shrinkage estimators for portfolio selection.