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Higher-Order Accurate, Positive Semi-definite Estimation of Large-Sample Covariance and Spectral Density Matrices

Abstract

A new class of large-sample covariance and spectral density matrix estimators is proposed based on the notion of flat-top kernels. The new estimators are shown to be higher-order accurate when higher-order accuracy is possible. A discussion on kernel choice is presented as well as a supporting finite-sample simulation. The problem of spectral estimation under a potential lack of finite fourth moments is also addressed. The higher-order accuracy of flat-top kernel estimators typically comes at the sacrifice of the positive semi-definite property. Nevertheless, we show how a flat-top estimator can be modified to become positive semi-definite (even strictly positive definite) while maintaining its higher-order accuracy. In addition, an easy (and consistent) procedure for optimal bandwidth choice is given; this procedure estimates the optimal bandwidth associated with each individual element of the target matrix, automatically sensing (and adapting to) the underlying correlation structure.

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