Honors Program

Honors in Business

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

William J. Trainor Jr.

Thesis Professor Department

Economics and Finance

Thesis Reader(s)

Randy Beach, Edward Baryla


This study examines the use of leveraged exchange traded funds (LETFs) within a portfolio insurance framework to reduce exposure to downside risk. Investors have learned the importance of mitigating this risk having experienced two “once in a century” events in the last 20 years with the tech crash in the early 2000s and the financial crisis in 2008. Current portfolio insurance strategies are either option based (Leland & Rubinstein, 1976) or constant proportional portfolio insurance (CPPI), (Black & Jones, 1987). The cost of option based strategies can be quite high while a CPPI strategy requires constant rebalancing.

This study combines the advantages of each by using LETFs to attain the leverage options provide, while at the same time allowing a greater percentage of the portfolio to be invested in bonds since a position in LETFs relative to a typical market index magnifies equity exposure. Thus, where a standard CPPI strategy may require 50% of the portfolio to be invested in equities, using a 3x LETF only requires approximately 16.7%. Results suggest the use of LETFs within a portfolio insurance framework result in better returns, higher Sharpe, Sortino, Omega, and cumulative prospect values while reducing Value at Risk (VaR) and Excess Shortfall below VaR. This twist on the use of LETFs will be of interest to any investor concerned with mitigating downside risk while allowing participation in increasing markets.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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