What are the most popular ways to compare volatility models?

Suppose I wanted to compare the forecasting accuracy of a GARCH(1,1) model with the historic 30 day volatility. What method should I use?

  • $\begingroup$ Compare future forecast volatility with future realized volatility...done.... $\endgroup$
    – Matt Wolf
    Oct 29, 2013 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Duplicate of quant.stackexchange.com/questions/8056/… $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2013 at 2:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user2763361 Not duplicates; this is asking how to compare models, while that other question asks whether explicit models have been compared. $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Oct 30, 2013 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Shane After a sensible (non literal) parsing of the other question it is clear Jase wanted a description of any such comparisons as well as references (I take this to be true since if the answerer took the "whether" question literally the answer would be utterly useless) $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2013 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ @user2763361 Others might disagree with me, but I view these questions as entirely different. One is about what models exist (both the question and answer) and the other is about how to compare the existing models. $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Oct 30, 2013 at 3:04

2 Answers 2


There is no one right answer to this question, but a common starting place is to compare the bias and variance of the forecast vs. the realized variance.

Take your forecasted variance $\hat y$ and regress them against the realized variance:

$y = \beta_0 + \beta_1 \hat y + \epsilon$

A few things that you want to see:

  • The forecast should be unbiased, meaning that $\beta_1 \approx 0$. If this is not the case, then you will consistently over or under-realize your prediction.
  • The error should not have any clear structure. So $\epsilon \mapsto N(0, \sigma)$; plot the residuals and look at them.
  • You can view the goodness-of-fit of your model by looking at things like the $R^2$ and the RMSE.
  • Normalizing your returns by your forecast should result in a normal distribution: you can review this by using a qqplot.

Make sure that you evaluate your model on the time horizon that is relevant to you. For instance, if you're rebalancing monthly, then it won't be especially important to predict the next day's volatility as much as if would if you were rebalancing daily.

As with any forecast, make sure that you have a sufficient sample size for significance, and use out-of-sample data to evaluate any parameters that you might fit if you use a structural model.

Some useful references:


A model is one which has the ability to make predictions. So use the models you have to make predictions about volatility. The one which can predict the best has to be the best (don't think you have a choice in that). If the predictability is comparable, then use any one. If you cannot test which one is the predicting the best, then go back and study what is volatility.

This is the edit after the first comment. For all volatility modelers, please read this paper first We Don't Quite Know What We are Talking About When We Talk About Volatility. Next it is important to understand that the process of volatility modeling is highly dependent on the context in which the volatility is going to be used in. There is no universal right answer.

For example, what do you believe in, price volatility or returns volatility and both have their space in financial research. next what time frame are you looking at, is it high frequency data ? or just intraday ? or end of day data. furthermore what do you want to predict using the model, because volatility itself is an invisible variable and hence you have to define some aspect of the market which you want to predict using your volatility model. So it could be to model the risk you face in the next period, or the prediction of the option price or simply the range of the market in the next period and believe me each of this is different. So using the model you would want to predict the measurable aspect of the market and then decide if the volatility model suits you or not. finally you have to understand if the model explains features of a volatility process the best, like regimes in volatility and spillovers to other instruments and the like.

This is not a question answered so easily. Keep working.

  • $\begingroup$ have you ever read a paper about testing volatility models? I guess if you had your answer would sound a bit more "scientific" and not that "philosophical". $\endgroup$
    – Richi Wa
    Oct 31, 2013 at 9:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.