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On Estimating the Expected Return on the Market: An Exploratory Investigation

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  • Robert C. Merton

Abstract

The expected market return is a number frequently required for the solution of many investment and corporate finance problems, but by comparison with other financial variables, there has been little research on estimating this expected return. Current practice for estimating the expected market return adds the historical average realized excess market returns to the Current observed interest rate. While this model explicitly reflects the dependence of the market return on the interest rate, it fails to account for the effect of changes in the level of market risk. Three models of equilibrium expected market returns which reflect this dependence are analyzed in this paper. Estimation procedures which incorporate the prior restriction that equilibrium expected excess returns on the market must be positive arc derived and applied to return data for the period 1926- 1978. The principal conclusions from this exploratory investigation are: (1) in estimating models of the expected market return. the non-negativity restriction of the expected excess return should be explicitly included as part of the specification; (2) estimators which use realized returns should be adjusted for heteroscedasticity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0444.

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Date of creation: Feb 1980
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Publication status: published as Merton, Robert C. "On Estimating the Expected Return on the Market: An Exploratory Investigation." Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 8, (December 1980), pp. 323-361.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0444

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  1. Michael C. Jensen, 1972. "Capital Markets: Theory and Evidence," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 3(2), pages 357-398, Autumn.
  2. Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The arbitrage theory of capital asset pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 341-360, December.
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  5. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. William F. Sharpe, 1964. "Capital Asset Prices: A Theory Of Market Equilibrium Under Conditions Of Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 19(3), pages 425-442, 09.
  7. Latane, Henry A & Rendleman, Richard J, Jr, 1976. "Standard Deviations of Stock Price Ratios Implied in Option Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 369-81, May.
  8. Schmalensee, Richard & Trippi, Robert R, 1978. "Common Stock Volatility Expectations Implied by Option Premia," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(1), pages 129-47, March.
  9. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  10. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
  11. Barr Rosenberg., 1972. "The Behavior of Random Variables with Nonstationary Variance and the Distribution of Security Prices," Research Program in Finance Working Papers 11, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Fama, Eugene F. & MacBeth, James D., 1974. "Tests of the multiperiod two-parameter model," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 43-66, May.
  13. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
  14. Friend, Irwin & Blume, Marshall E, 1970. "Measurement of Portfolio Performance Under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 561-75, September.
  15. Ibbotson, Roger G & Sinquefield, Rex A, 1976. "Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation: Year-by-Year Historical Returns (1926-1974)," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 11-47, January.
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