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Empirical risk aversion functions-estimates and assessment of their reliability

  • Kang, Byung Jin
  • Kim, Tong Suk
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    In this paper, we examine investor's risk preferences implied by option prices. In order to derive these preferences, we specify the functional form of a pricing kernel and then shift its parameters until realized returns are best explained by the subjective probability density function, which consists of the ratio of the risk-neutral probability density function and the pricing kernel. We examine, alternatively, pricing kernels of power, exponential, and higher order polynomial forms. Using S&P 500 index options, we find surprising evidence of risk neutrality, instead of risk aversion, in both the power and exponential cases. When extending the underlying assumption on the specification of the pricing kernel to one of higher order polynomial functions, we obtain functions exhibiting 'monotonically decreasing' relative risk aversion (DRRA) and anomalous 'inverted U-shaped' relative risk aversion. We find, however, that only the DRRA function is robust to variation in sample characteristics, and is statistically significant. Finally, we also find that most of our empirical results are consistent, even when taking into account market imperfections such as illiquidity.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Financial Analysis.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 5 (December)
    Pages: 1123-1138

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:finana:v:17:y:2008:i:5:p:1123-1138
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620166

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    1. Jens Carsten Jackwerth., 1996. "Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-265, University of California at Berkeley.
    2. Berkowitz, Jeremy, 2001. "Testing Density Forecasts, with Applications to Risk Management," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(4), pages 465-74, October.
    3. Yacine Ait-Sahalia & Andrew W. Lo, 2000. "Nonparametric Risk Management and Implied Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 6130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rosenberg, Joshua V. & Engle, Robert F., 2002. "Empirical pricing kernels," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 341-372, June.
    5. Breeden, Douglas T & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1978. "Prices of State-contingent Claims Implicit in Option Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 621-51, October.
    6. Nikkinen, Jussi, 2003. "Normality tests of option-implied risk-neutral densities: evidence from the small Finnish market," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 99-116.
    7. Bliss, Robert R. & Panigirtzoglou, Nikolaos, 2002. "Testing the stability of implied probability density functions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 381-422, March.
    8. Robert R. Bliss & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2004. "Option-Implied Risk Aversion Estimates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 407-446, 02.
    9. Kang, Byung Jin & Kim, Tong Suk, 2006. "Option-implied risk preferences: An extension to wider classes of utility functions," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 180-198, May.
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