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Unbiased QML Estimation of Log-GARCH Models in the Presence of Zero Returns

Sucarrat, Genaro and Escribano, Alvaro (2013): Unbiased QML Estimation of Log-GARCH Models in the Presence of Zero Returns.

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A critique that has been directed towards the log-GARCH model is that its log-volatility specification does not exist in the presence of zero returns. A common ``remedy" is to replace the zeros with a small (in the absolute sense) non-zero value. However, this renders Quasi Maximum Likelihood (QML) estimation asymptotically biased. Here, we propose a solution to the case where actual returns are equal to zero with probability zero, but zeros nevertheless are observed because of measurement error (due to missing values, discreteness approximisation error, etc.). The solution treats zeros as missing values and handles these by combining QML estimation via the ARMA representation with the Expectation-maximisation (EM) algorithm. Monte Carlo simulations confirm that the solution corrects the bias, and several empirical applications illustrate that the bias-correcting estimator can make a substantial difference.

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