Evolutionary factor analysis
Linear factor models have attracted considerable interest over recent years especially in the econometrics literature. The intuitively appealing idea to explain a panel of economic variables by a few common factors is one of the reasons for their popularity. From a statistical viewpoint, the need to reduce the cross-section
dimension to a much smaller factor space dimension is obvious considering the large data sets available in economics and finance.
One of the characteristics of the traditional factor model is that the process is stationary in the time dimension. This appears restrictive, given the fact that over long time periods it is unlikely that e.g. factor loadings remain constant. For example, in the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) of Sharpe (1964) and
Lintner (1965), typical empirical results show that factor loadings are time-varying, which in the CAPM is caused by time-varying second moments.
In this thesis we generalize the tools of factor analysis for the study of stochastic processes whose behavior evolves over time. In particular, we introduce a new class of factor models with loadings that are allowed to be smooth functions of time. To estimate the resulting nonstationary factor model we generalize the properties of the principal components technique to the time-varying framework. We mainly consider separately two classes of Evolutionary Factor Models: Evolutionary Static Factor Models (Chapter 2) and Evolutionary Dynamic Factor Models (Chapter 3).
In Chapter 2 we propose a new approximate factor model where the common components are static but
nonstationary. The nonstationarity is introduced by the time-varying factor loadings, that are estimated by the eigenvectors of a nonparametrically estimated covariance matrix. Under simultaneous asymptotics
(cross-section and time dimension go to infinity simultaneously), we give conditions for consistency of our estimators of the time varying covariance matrix, the loadings and the factors. This paper generalizes to the locally stationary case the results given by Bai (2003) in the stationary framework. A simulation study
illustrates the performance of these estimators.
The estimators proposed in Chapter 2 are based on a nonparametric estimator of the covariance matrix
whose entries are computed with the same moothing parameter. This approach has the advantage of
guaranteeing a positive definite estimator but it does not adapt to the different degree of smoothness of the different entries of the covariance matrix. In Chapter 5 we give an additional theoretical result which explains how to construct a positive definite estimate of the covariance matrix while while permitting different
smoothing parameters. This estimator is based on the Cholesky decomposition of a pre-estimator of the covariance matrix.
In Chapter 3 we introduce the dynamics in our modeling. This model generalizes the dynamic (but
stationary) factor model of Forni et al. (2000), as well as the nonstationary (but static) factor model of Chapter 2. In the stationary (dynamic) case, Forni et al. (2000) show that the common components are estimated by the eigenvectors of a consistent estimator of the spectral density matrix, which is a matrix depending only on the frequency. In the evolutionary framework the dynamics of the model is explained by a time-varying spectral density matrix. This operator is a function of time as well as of the frequency.
In this chapter we show that the common components of a locally stationary dynamic factor model can be estimated consistently by the eigenvectors of a consistent estimator of the time-varying spectral density matrix.
In Chapter 4 we apply our theoretical results to real data and compare the performance of our approach with that based on standard techniques. Chapter 6 concludes and mention the main questions for future research.
School:Université catholique de Louvain
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:approximate factor models local stationarity principal components
Date of Publication:02/06/2009