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A model-independent measure of aggregate idiosyncratic risk

By Turan G. Bali, Nusret Cakici and Haim Levy

Abstract

This paper introduces a model-independent measure of aggregate idiosyncratic risk, which does not require estimation of market betas or correlations and is based on the concept of gain from portfolio diversification. The statistical results and graphical analyses provide strong evidence that there are significant level and trend differences between the average idiosyncratic volatility measures of Campbell et al. [Campbell, J.Y., Lettau, M., Malkiel, B.G., and Xu, Y., 2001, Have individual stocks become more volatile? An empirical exploration of idiosyncratic risk, Journal of Finance 56, 1-43.] and the new methodology. Although both approaches indicate a noticeable increase in the firm-level idiosyncratic risk, the volatility measure of CLMX is greater and has a stronger upward trend than the new idiosyncratic volatility measure. For both measures of idiosyncratic risk, the upward trend is found to be stronger for smaller, lower-priced, and younger firms. The analytical and empirical results show that the significant upward trend in the differences of the two idiosyncratic volatility measures is related to the increase in the cross-sectional dispersion of the volatility of individual stocks.G10 G11 C13 Idiosyncratic risk Total risk Average stock risk Stock market volatility Stock returns

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