Systemic crises can have grave consequences for investors in international equity markets, because it causes the risk-return trade-off to deteriorate severely for a longer period. In this paper we propose a novel approach to include the possibility of systemic crises in asset allocation decisions. By combining regime switching models with Merton (1969)-style portfolio construction, our approach captures persistence of crises much better than existing models. Our analysis shows that incorporating systemic crises has a large impact on asset allocation decisions, while the costs of ignoring such crises are substantial. For an expected utility maximizing US investor, who can invest globally these costs range from 1.13% per year of his initial wealth when he has no prior information on the likelihood of a crisis, to over 3% per month if a crisis occurs with almost certainty. If a crisis is taken into account, the investor allocates less to risky assets, and particularly less to emerging markets, being most prone to a crisis. An investor facing short selling constraints withdraws completely from equity markets if the likelihood of a crisis increases.

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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Kole, E., Koedijk, K., & Verbeek, M. (2005). Portfolio Implications of Systemic Crises. Retrieved from