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When trading incurs proportional costs, leverage can scale an asset's return only up to a maximum multiple, which is sensitive to the asset's volatility and liquidity. In a continuoustime model with one safe and one risky asset with constant investment opportunities and proportional transaction costs, we find the efficient portfolios that maximize long term expected returns for given average volatility. As leverage and volatility increase, rising rebalancing costs imply a declining Sharpe ratio. Beyond a critical level, even the expected return declines. For funds that seek to replicate multiples of index returns, such as leveraged ETFs, our efficient portfolios optimally trade off alpha against tracking error.
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