Serial Correlation of Asset Returns and Optimal Portfolios for the Long and Short Term
NBER Working Paper No. 1625
Optimal portfolios differ according to the length of time they are held without being rebalanced. For the case in which asset returns are identically and independently distributed, it has been shown that optimal portfolios become less diversified as the holding period lengthens.We show that the anti-diversification result does not obtain when asset returns are serially correlated, and examine properties of asymptotic portfolios for the case where the short term interest rate, although known at each moment of time, may change unpredictably over time. The theoretical results provide no presumption about the effects of the length of the holding period on the optimal portfolio. Using estimated processes for stock and bill returns, we show that calculated optimal portfolios are virtually invariant to the length of the holding period. The estimated processes for asset returns also imply very little difference between portfolios calculated ignoring changes in the investment opportunity set and those obtained when the investment opportunity set changes over time.