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Publication# Redescending M-estimators

Abstract

in finite sample studies redescending M-estimators outperform bounded M-estimators (see for example, Andrews et al. [1972. Robust Estimates of Location. Princeton University Press, Princeton]). Even though redescenders arise naturally out of the maximum likelihood approach if one uses very heavy-tailed models, the commonly used redescenders have been derived from purely heuristic considerations. Using a recent approach proposed by Shurygin, we study the optimality of redescending M-estimators. We show that redescending M-estimator can be designed by applying a global minimax criterion to locally robust estimators, namely maximizing over a class of densities the minimum variance sensitivity over a class of estimators. As a particular result, we prove that Smith's estimator, which is a compromise between Huber's skipped mean and Tukey's biweight, provides a guaranteed level of an estimator's variance sensitivity over the class of densities with a bounded variance. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Time series modeling and analysis is central to most financial and econometric data modeling. With increased globalization in trade, commerce and finance, national variables like gross domestic productivity (GDP) and unemployment rate, market variables like indices and stock prices and global variables like commodity prices are more tightly coupled than ever before. This translates to the use of multivariate or vector time series models and algorithms in analyzing and understanding the relationships that these variables share with each other. Autocorrelation is one of the fundamental aspects of time series modeling. However, traditional linear models, that arise from a strong observed autocorrelation in many financial and econometric time series data, are at times unable to capture the rather nonlinear relationship that characterizes many time series data. This necessitates the study of nonlinear models in analyzing such time series. The class of bilinear models is one of the simplest nonlinear models. These models are able to capture temporary erratic fluctuations that are common in many financial returns series and thus, are of tremendous interest in financial time series analysis. Another aspect of time series analysis is homoscedasticity versus heteroscedasticity. Many time series data, even after differencing, exhibit heteroscedasticity. Thus, it becomes important to incorporate this feature in the associated models. The class of conditional heteroscedastic autoregressive (ARCH) models and its variants form the primary backbone of conditional heteroscedastic time series models. Robustness is a highly underrated feature of most time series applications and models that are presently in use in the industry. With an ever increasing amount of information available for modeling, it is not uncommon for the data to have some aberrations within itself in terms of level shifts and the occasional large fluctuations. Conventional methods like the maximum likelihood and least squares are well known to be highly sensitive to such contaminations. Hence, it becomes important to use robust methods, especially in this age with high amounts of computing power readily available, to take into account such aberrations. While robustness and time series modeling have been vastly researched individually in the past, application of robust methods to estimate time series models is still quite open. The central goal of this thesis is the study of robust parameter estimation of some simple vector and nonlinear time series models. More precisely, we will briefly study some prominent linear and nonlinear models in the time series literature and apply the robust S-estimator in estimating parameters of some simple models like the vector autoregressive (VAR) model, the (0, 0, 1, 1) bilinear model and a simple conditional heteroscedastic bilinear model. In each case, we will look at the important aspect of stationarity of the model and analyze the asymptotic behavior of the S-estimator.

Powerful mathematical tools have been developed for trading in stocks and bonds, but other markets that are equally important for the globalized world have to some extent been neglected. We decided to study the shipping market as an new area of development in mathematical finance. The market in shipping derivatives (FFA and FOSVA) has only been developed after 2000 and now exhibits impressive growth. Financial actors have entered the field, but it is still largely undiscovered by institutional investors. The first part of the work was to identify the characteristics of the market in shipping, i.e. the segmentation and the volatility. Because the shipping business is old-fashioned, even the leading actors on the world stage (ship owners and banks) are using macro-economic models to forecast the rates. If the macro-economic models are logical and make sense, they fail to predict. For example, the factor port congestion has been much cited during the last few years, but it is clearly very difficult to control and is simply an indicator of traffic. From our own experience it appears that most ship owners are in fact market driven and rather bad at anticipating trends. Due to their ability to capture large moves, we chose to consider Lévy processes for the underlying price process. Compared with the macro-economic approach, the main advantage is the uniform and systematic structure this imposed on the models. We get in each case a favorable result for our technology and a gain in forecasting accuracy of around 10% depending on the maturity. The global distribution is more effectively modelled and the tails of the distribution are particularly well represented. This model can be used to forecast the market but also to evaluate the risk, for example, by computing the VaR. An important limitation is the non-robustness in the estimation of the Lévy processes. The use of robust estimators reinforces the information obtained from the observed data. Because maximum likelihood estimation is not easy to compute with complex processes, we only consider some very general robust score functions to manage the technical problems. Two new class of robust estimators are suggested. These are based on the work of F. Hampel ([29]) and P. Huber ([30]) using influence functions. The main idea is to bound the maximum likelihood score function. By doing this a bias is created in the parameters estimation, which can be corrected by using a modification of the following type and as proposed by F. Hampel. The procedure for finding a robust estimating equation is thus decomposed into two consecutive steps : Subtract the bias correction and then Bound the score function. In the case of complex Lévy processes, the bias correction is difficult to compute and generally unknown. We have developed a pragmatic solution by inverting the Hampel's procedure. Bound the score function and then Correct for the bias. The price is a loss of the theoretical properties of our estimators, besides the procedure converges to maximum likelihood estimate. A second solution to for achieving robust estimation is presented. It considers the limiting case when the upper and lower bounds tend to zero and leads to B-robust estimators. Because of the complexity of the Lévy distributions, this leads to identification problems.

Generalized Linear Models have become a commonly used tool of data analysis. Such models are used to fit regressions for univariate responses with normal, gamma, binomial or Poisson distribution. Maximum likelihood is generally applied as fitting method. In the usual regression setting the least absolute-deviations estimator (L1-norm) is a popular alternative to least squares (L2-norm) because of its simplicity and its robustness properties. In the first part of this thesis we examine the question of how much of these robustness features carry over to the setting of generalized linear models. We study a robust procedure based on the minimum absolute deviation estimator of Morgenthaler (1992), the Lq quasi-likelihood when q = 1. In particular, we investigate the influence function of these estimates and we compare their sensitivity to that of the maximum likelihood estimate. Furthermore we particularly explore the Lq quasi-likelihood estimates in binary regression. These estimates are difficult to compute. We derive a simpler estimator, which has a similar form as the Lq quasi-likelihood estimate. The resulting estimating equation consists in a simple modification of the familiar maximum likelihood equation with the weights wq(μ). This presents an improvement compared to other robust estimates discussed in the literature that typically have weights, which depend on the couple (xi, yi) rather than on μi = h(xiT β) alone. Finally, we generalize this estimator to Poisson regression. The resulting estimating equation is a weighted maximum likelihood with weights that depend on μ only.