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Mathematical Finance Header


The limits of leverage

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 23:29:28 GMT

Abstract

When trading incurs proportional costs, leverage can scale an asset's return only up to a maximum multiple, which is sensitive to its volatility and liquidity. In a model with one safe and one risky asset, with constant investment opportunities and proportional costs, we find strategies that maximize longā€term returns given average volatility. As leverage increases, rising rebalancing costs imply declining Sharpe ratios. Beyond a critical level, even returns decline. Holding the Sharpe ratio constant, higher asset volatility leads to superior returns through lower costs.