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Measuring the cost of economic fluctuations with preferences that rationalize the equity premium


  • Angelo Melino


Lucas (2003) argues that the potential welfare gains from stabilizing the business cycle are small. In fact, he shows that the benefits of eliminating all economic fluctuations are small, especially when compared with the potential gains from other reforms. His estimates are obtained using standard preferences. I show that a model consistent with observed data on asset returns leads to very different conclusions. Calibrating preferences to observed asset market data raises the estimated welfare gains from completely eliminating aggregate fluctuations by approximately two orders of magnitude. Most of the gains, however, come from the elimination of low-frequency contributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Angelo Melino, 2010. "Measuring the cost of economic fluctuations with preferences that rationalize the equity premium," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(2), pages 405-422, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:43:y:2010:i:2:p:405-422

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    2. Hansen, Lars Peter & Richard, Scott F, 1987. "The Role of Conditioning Information in Deducing Testable," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 587-613, May.
    3. Epstein, Larry G. & Zin, Stanley E., 1990. "'First-order' risk aversion and the equity premium puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 387-407, December.
    4. Larry G. Epstein & Angelo Melino, 1995. "A Revealed Preference Analysis of Asset Pricing Under Recursive Utility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 597-618.
    5. Hansen, Lars Peter & Jagannathan, Ravi, 1991. "Implications of Security Market Data for Models of Dynamic Economies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 225-262, April.
    6. Angelo Melino & Alan X. Yang, 2003. "State Dependent Preferences Can Explain the Equity Premium Puzzle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 806-830, October.
    7. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2004. "Using Asset Prices to Measure the Cost of Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1223-1256, December.
    8. Epstein, Larry G. & Zin, Stanley E., 2001. "The independence axiom and asset returns," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 537-572, December.
    9. TallariniJr., Thomas D., 2000. "Risk-sensitive real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 507-532, June.
    10. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2003. "Macroeconomic Priorities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-14, March.
    11. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "The equity premium puzzle and the risk-free rate puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 401-421, November.
    12. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-969, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guillén, Osmani Teixeira de Carvalho & Issler, João Victor & Franco-Neto, Afonso Arinos de Mello, 2014. "On the welfare costs of business-cycle fluctuations and economic-growth variation in the 20th century and beyond," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 62-78.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination


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