Mean–variance approximations to expected utility
It is often asserted that the application of mean–variance analysis assumes normal (Gaussian) return distributions or quadratic utility functions. This common mistake confuses sufficient versus necessary conditions for the applicability of modern portfolio theory. If one believes (as does the author) that choice should be guided by the expected utility maxim, then the necessary and sufficient condition for the practical use of mean–variance analysis is that a careful choice from a mean–variance efficient frontier will approximately maximize expected utility for a wide variety of concave (risk-averse) utility functions. This paper reviews a half-century of research on mean–variance approximations to expected utility. The many studies in this field have been generally supportive of mean–variance analysis, subject to certain (initially unanticipated) caveats.
Volume (Year): 234 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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- Loistl, Otto, 1976. "The Erroneous Approximation of Expected Utility by Means of a Taylor's Series Expansion: Analytic and Computational Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 904-10, December.
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- Yusif Simaan, 1993. "What is the Opportunity Cost of Mean-Variance Investment Strategies?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(5), pages 578-587, May.
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