U.S. investors hold much less international stock than is optimal according to mean–variance portfolio theory applied to historical data. We investigated whether this home bias can be explained by Bayesian approaches to international asset allocation. In comparison with mean–variance analysis, Bayesian approaches use different techniques for obtaining the set of expected returns by shrinking the sample means toward a reference point that is inferred from economic theory. Applying the Bayesian approaches to the field of international diversification, we found that a substantial home bias can be explained when a U.S. investor has a strong belief in the global mean–variance efficiency of the U.S. market portfolio, and in this article, we show how to quantify the strength of this belief. We also found that one of the Bayesian approaches leads to the same implications for asset allocation as the mean–variance/tracking-error criterion. In both cases, the optimal portfolio is a combination of the U.S. market portfolio and the mean–variance-efficient portfolio with the highest Sharpe ratio.
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