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Essays in Risk Management: Conditional expectation with Applications in Finance & Insurance

Friday, 8 June, 2012 - 11:45
Faculty: Social Sciences and Solvay Business School
Mateusz Maj
phd defence

Openbare doctoraatsverdediging van Mateusz Maj voor het behalen van de graad van Doctor in de Toegepaste Economische Wetenschappen met het proefschrift getiteld: 'Essays in Risk Management: Conditional expectation with Applications in Finance & Insurance'.


In this work we study two problems motivated by Risk Management: the optimal design of financial products from an investor's point of view and the calculation of bounds and approximations for sums involving non-independent random variables. The element that interconnects these two topics is the notion of conditioning, a fundamental concept in probability and statistics which appears to be a useful device in finance. In the first part of the dissertation, we analyse structured products that are now widespread in the banking and insurance industry. These products typically protect the investor against bearish stock markets while offering upside participation when the markets are bullish. Examples of these products include capital guaranteed funds commercialised by banks, and equity linked contracts sold by insurers. The design of these products is complex in general and it is vital to examine to which extent they are actually interesting from the investor's point of view and whether they cannot be dominated by other strategies. In the academic literature on structured products the focus has been almost exclusively on the pricing and hedging of these instruments and less on their performance from an investor's point of view. In this work we analyse the attractiveness of these products. We assess the theoretical cost of inefficiency when buying a structured product and describe the optimal strategy explicitly if possible. Moreover we examine the cost of the inefficiency in practice. We extend the results of Dybvig (1988a, 1988b) and Cox & Leland (1982, 2000) who in the context of a complete, one-dimensional market investigated the inefficiency of path-dependent pay-offs. In the dissertation we consider this problem in one-dimensional Levy and multidimensional Black-Scholes financial markets and we provide evidence that path-dependent pay-offs should not be preferred by decision makers with a fixed investment horizon, and they should buy path-independent structures instead. In these market settings we also demonstrate the optimal contract that provides the given distribution to the consumer, and in the case of risk- averse investors we are able to propose two ways of improving the design of financial products. Finally we illustrate the theory with a few well-known securities and strategies e.g. dollar cost averaging, buy-and-hold investments and widely used portfolio insurance strategies. The second part of the dissertation considers the problem of finding the distribution of a sum of non- independent random variables. Such dependent sums appear quite often in insurance and finance, for instance in case of the aggregate claim distribution or loss distribution of an investment portfolio. An interesting avenue to cope with this problem consists in using so-called convex bounds, studied by Dhaene et al. (2002a, 2002b), who applied these to sums of log-normal random variables. In their papers they have shown how these convex bounds can be used to derive closed-form approximations for several of the risk measures of such a sum. In the dissertation we prove that unlike the log-normal case the construction of a convex lower bound in explicit form appears to be out of reach for general sums of log-elliptical risks and we show how we can construct stop-loss bounds and we use these to construct mean preserving approximations for general sums of log-elliptical distributions in explicit form.