Portfolio selection has a long tradition in financial economics and plays an integral role in investment management. Portfolio selection provides the framework to determine optimal portfolio choice from a universe of available investments. However, the asset weightings from portfolio selection are optimal only if the empirical characteristics of asset returns do not violate the portfolio selection model assumptions. This thesis explores the empirical characteristics of traditional assets and hedge fund returns and examines their effects on the assumptions of linearity-in-the-mean testing and portfolio selection. The encompassing theme of this thesis is the empirical interplay between traditional assets and hedge fund returns. Despite the paucity of hedge fund research, pension funds continue to increase their portfolio allocations to global hedge funds in an effort to pursue higher risk-adjusted returns. This thesis presents three empirical studies which provide positive insights into the relationships between traditional assets and hedge fund returns. The first two empirical studies examine an emerging body of literature which suggests that the relationship between traditional assets and hedge fund returns is non-linear. For mean-variance investors, non-linear asset returns are problematic as they do not satisfy the assumption of linearity required for the covariance matrix in portfolio selection. To examine the linearity assumption as it relates to a mean-variance investor, a hypothesis test approach is employed which investigates the linearity-in-the-mean of traditional assets and hedge funds. The findings from the first two empirical studies reveal that conventional linearity-in-the-mean tests incorrectly conclude that asset returns are nonlinear. We demonstrate that the empirical characteristics of heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation in asset returns are the primary sources of test mis-specification in these linearity-in-the-mean hypothesis tests. To address this problem, an innovative approach is proposed to control heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation in the underlying tests and it is shown that traditional assets and hedge funds are indeed linear-in-the-mean. The third and final study of this thesis explores traditional assets and hedge funds in a portfolio selection framework. Following the theme of the previous two studies, the effects of heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation are examined in the portfolio selection context. The characteristics of serial correlation in bond and hedge fund returns are shown to cause a downward bias in the second sample moment. This thesis proposes two methods to control for this effect and it is shown that autocorrelation induces an overallocation to bonds and hedge funds. Whilst heteroscedasticity cannot be directly examined in portfolio selection, empirical evidence suggests that heteroscedastic events (such as those that occurred in August 1998) translate into the empirical feature known as tail-risk. The effects of tail-risk are examined by comparing the portfolio decisions of mean-variance analysis (MVA) versus mean-conditional value at risk (M-CVaR) investors. The findings reveal that the volatility of returns in a MVA portfolio decreases when hedge funds are included in the investment opportunity set. However, the reduction in the volatility of portfolio returns comes at a cost of undesirable third and fourth moments. Furthermore, it is shown that investors with M-CVaR preferences exhibit a decreasing demand for hedge funds as their aversion for tail-risk increases. The results of the thesis highlight the sensitivities of linearity tests and portfolio selection to the empirical features of heteroscedasticity, autocorrelation and tail-risk. This thesis contributes to the literature by providing refinements to these frameworks which allow improved inferences to be made when hedge funds are examined in linearity and portfolio selection settings
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