Mathematical Finance Seminar
Renyuan Xu (Oxford University)

Excursions in Math Finance

The risk and return profiles of a broad class of dynamic trading strategies, including pairs trading and other statistical arbitrage strategies, may be characterized in terms of excursions of the market price of a portfolio away from a reference level. We propose a mathematical framework for the risk analysis of such strategies, based on a description in terms of price excursions, first in a pathwise setting, without probabilistic assumptions, then in a Markovian setting.

We introduce the notion of $\delta$-excursion, defined as a path which deviates by $\delta$ from a reference level  before returning to this level. We show that every continuous path has a unique decomposition into such $\delta$-excursions, which turns out to be useful for the scenario analysis of dynamic trading strategies, leading to simple expressions for the number of trades, realized profit, maximum loss, and drawdown.  As $\delta$ is decreased to zero, properties of this decomposition relate to the local time of the path.

When the underlying asset follows a Markov process, we combine these results with Ito's excursion theory to obtain a tractable decomposition of the process as a concatenation of independent $\delta$-excursions, whose distribution is described in terms of Ito's excursion measure. We provide analytical results for linear diffusions and give new examples of stochastic processes for flexible and tractable modeling of excursions. Finally, we describe a non-parametric scenario simulation method for generating paths whose excursions match those observed in a data set.

This is based on joint work with Anna Ananova and Rama Cont (Oxford).