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Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle?

  • Otrok, Christopher
  • Ravikumar, B.
  • Whiteman, Charles H.

We explore how the introduction of habit preferences into the simple intertemporal consumption-based capital asset pricing model "solves" the equity premium and risk-free rate puzzles. Our exploration employs spectral utility functions that decompose agents' preferences for consumption smoothness into preferences for smoothness by frequency. While agents with time-separable preferences care only about the overall volatility of consumption, we show that agents with habit preferences care not only about overall volatility, but also about the temporal distribution of that volatility. Specifically, habit agents are much more averse to high-frequency fluctuations than to low-frequency fluctuations. In fact, the size of the equity premium in the habit model is determined by a relatively insignificant amount of high-frequency volatility in U.S. consumption. Further, the model's premia and returns are very sensitive to changes in characteristics of the stochastic process for consumption, changes that have been dramatic during the 20th century. The model also carries counterfactual implications for the equally dramatic changes in the equity premium and risk-free rate observed over the last 100 years.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 49 (2002)
Issue (Month): 6 (September)
Pages: 1261-1288

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:49:y:2002:i:6:p:1261-1288
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Philippe Weil, 1989. "The Equity Premium Puzzle and the Riskfree Rate Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 2829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-45, November.
  4. David K. Backus & Allan W. Gregory & Chris I. Telmer, 1992. "Accounting for Forward Rates in Markets for Foreign Currency," Working Papers 92-18b, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Andrew B. Abel, 1998. "Risk Premia and Term Premia in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 6683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Boldrin, Michele & Christiano, Lawrence J. & Fisher, Jonas D.M., 1997. "Habit Persistence And Asset Returns In An Exchange Economy," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 312-332, June.
  7. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
  8. Otrok, Christopher, 2001. "Spectral Welfare Cost Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(2), pages 345-67, May.
  9. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1995. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," NBER Working Papers 4995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Whiteman, Charles H., 1985. "Spectral utility, wiener-hopf techniques, and rational expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 225-240, October.
  11. Heaton, John, 1995. "An Empirical Investigation of Asset Pricing with Temporally Dependent Preference Specifications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 681-717, May.
  12. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  13. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1982. "Time-Separable Preference and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 0888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1995. "The equity premium: it's still a puzzle," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. Bansal, Ravi & Coleman, Wilbur John, II, 1996. "A Monetary Explanation of the Equity Premium, Term Premium, and Risk-Free Rate Puzzles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1135-71, December.
  16. Whiteman, Charles H, 1986. "An Analytical Policy Design under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1387-1405, November.
  17. Taub, Bart, 1989. "Dynamic consistency of insurance contracts under enforcement by exclusion," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 93-112, January.
  18. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
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