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Parallel Constrained Hamiltonian Monte Carlo for BEKK Model Comparison

Martin Burda (Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Bayesian Model Comparison

ISBN: 978-1-78441-185-5

Publication date: 19 November 2014


The BEKK GARCH class of models presents a popular set of tools for applied analysis of dynamic conditional covariances. Within this class the analyst faces a range of model choices that trade off flexibility with parameter parsimony. In the most flexible unrestricted BEKK the parameter dimensionality increases quickly with the number of variables. Covariance targeting decreases model dimensionality but induces a set of nonlinear constraints on the underlying parameter space that are difficult to implement. Recently, the rotated BEKK (RBEKK) has been proposed whereby a targeted BEKK model is applied after the spectral decomposition of the conditional covariance matrix. An easily estimable RBEKK implies a full albeit constrained BEKK for the unrotated returns. However, the degree of the implied restrictiveness is currently unknown. In this paper, we suggest a Bayesian approach to estimation of the BEKK model with targeting based on Constrained Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (CHMC). We take advantage of suitable parallelization of the problem within CHMC utilizing the newly available computing power of multi-core CPUs and Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) that enables us to deal effectively with the inherent nonlinear constraints posed by covariance targeting in relatively high dimensions. Using parallel CHMC we perform a model comparison in terms of predictive ability of the targeted BEKK with the RBEKK in the context of an application concerning a multivariate dynamic volatility analysis of a Dow Jones Industrial returns portfolio. Although the RBEKK does improve over a diagonal BEKK restriction, it is clearly dominated by the full targeted BEKK model.




I would like to thank John Maheu for valuable comments. This work was made possible by the facilities of the Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network (SHARCNET: and it was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC:


Burda, M. (2014), "Parallel Constrained Hamiltonian Monte Carlo for BEKK Model Comparison", Bayesian Model Comparison (Advances in Econometrics, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 155-179.



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