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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Sep 14, 2016

Why Invest in Emerging Markets? The Role of Conditional Return Asymmetry

Abstract

We propose a quantile-based measure of conditional skewness, particularly suitable for handling recalcitrant emerging market (EM) returns. The skewness of international stock market returns varies significantly across countries over time, and persists at long horizons. In EMs, skewness is mostly positive and idiosyncratic, and significantly relates to a country’s financial and trade openness and balance of payments. In an international portfolio setting, return asymmetry leads to sizeable certainty-equivalent gains and increases the weight on emerging countries to about 30%. Investing in EMs seems to be about expectations of a higher upside than downside, consistent with recent theories.


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