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The Significance of the Market Portfolio

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  • Stefano Athanasoulis
  • Robert J. Shiller

Abstract

The market portfolio is in one sense the least important portfolio to provide to investors. In an J-agent one-period stochastic endowment economy, where preferences are quadratic, a social-welfare-minded contract designer would never create a contract that would allow trading the market portfolio. Even the complete set of contracts, all J 1 of them, which achieve a first best solution, never span the market portfolio. These conclusions rely on the assumption that the contract designer has perfect information about agents' utilities. We also show that as the contract designer's information about agents' utilities becomes more imperfect, the optimal contracts approach contracts that weight individual endowments in proportion to elements of eigenvectors of the variance matrix of endowments. Then, if there is a strong enough market component to endowments, a portfolio approximating the market portfolio may be the most important portfolio.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0209.

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Date of creation: Feb 1997
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Publication status: published as Athanasoulis, S. G. and Robert J. Shiller. "The Significance Of The Market Portfolio," Review of Financial Studies, 2000, v13(2,Apr), 301-329.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0209

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  1. Gyutaeg Oh, 1996. "Some Results in the CAPM with Nontraded Endowments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(2), pages 286-293, February.
  2. Magill, Michael & Shafer, Wayne, 1991. "Incomplete markets," Handbook of Mathematical Economics, in: W. Hildenbrand & H. Sonnenschein (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 30, pages 1523-1614 Elsevier.
  3. Demange Gabrielle & Laroque Guy, 1995. "Optimality of Incomplete Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 218-232, February.
  4. Cass, David & Chichilnisky, Graciela & Wu, Ho-Mou, 1996. "Individual Risk and Mutual Insurance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(2), pages 333-41, March.
  5. Geanakoplos, John, 1990. "An introduction to general equilibrium with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-38.
  6. Duffie Darrell & Rahi Rohit, 1995. "Financial Market Innovation and Security Design: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-42, February.
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