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Time-Varying Risk Perceptions and the Pricing of Risky Assets

  • Friedman, Benjamin M
  • Kuttner, Kenneth N

Empirical results based on two different statistical approaches lead to several conclusions about the role of time-varying asset risk assessments in accounting for what, on the basis of many earlier studies, appear to be time-varying differentials in ex ante asset returns. First, both methods indicate sizeable changes over time in variance-covariance structures conditional on past information. These changing conditional variance-covariance structures in turn imply sizeable changes over time in asset demand behavior, and hence in the market-clearing equilibrium structure of ex ante asset returns. Second, at least for some values of the parameter indicating how rapidly investors discount the information contained in past observations, the implied ex ante excess returns bear non-negligible correlation to observed ex post excess returns on either debt or equity. The percentage of the variation of ex post excess returns explained by the implied time-varying ex ante excess returns is comparable to values to which previous researchers have interpreted as warranting rejection of the hypothesis that risk premia are constant over time. Third, although for long-term debt the two statistical methods used here give sharply different answers to the question of how much relevance market participants associate with past observations in assessing future risks, for equities both methods agree in indicating extremely rapid discounting of more distant observations -- so much so that in neither case do outcomes more than a year in the past matter much at all. While the paper's other conclusions are plausible enough, the finding of such an extremely short "memory" on the part of equity investors suggests that the standard representation of equity risk by a single normally distributed disturbance is overly restrictive.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 44 (1992)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 566-98

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:44:y:1992:i:4:p:566-98
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  1. Melino, Angelo, 1988. " The Term Structure of Interest Rates: Evidence and Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(4), pages 335-66.
  2. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1985. "Crowding Out or Crowding In? Evidence on Debt-Equity Substitutability," NBER Working Papers 1565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Irwin Friend & Joel Hasbrouck, . "Effect of Inflation on the Profitability and Valuation of U.S. Corporations," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 4-82, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  4. Bollerslev, Tim & Engle, Robert F & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1988. "A Capital Asset Pricing Model with Time-Varying Covariances," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 116-31, February.
  5. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1978. "Price Inflation, Portfolio Choice, and Nominal Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 0235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Irwin Friend & Joel Hasbrouck, . "Effect of Inflation on the Profitability and Valuation of U.S. Corporations," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 04-82, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Cox, John C & Ingersoll, Jonathan E, Jr & Ross, Stephen A, 1985. "An Intertemporal General Equilibrium Model of Asset Prices," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 363-84, March.
  8. Roley, V Vance, 1982. "The Effect of Federal Debt-Management Policy on Corporate Bond and Equity Yields," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 645-68, November.
  9. Friend, Irwin & Blume, Marshall E, 1975. "The Demand for Risky Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 900-922, December.
  10. Modigliani, Franco & Shiller, Robert J, 1973. "Inflation, Rational Expectations and the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(157), pages 12-43, February.
  11. Shiller, Robert J, 1979. "The Volatility of Long-Term Interest Rates and Expectations Models of the Term Structure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1190-1219, December.
  12. Benjamin M. Friedman & V. Vance Roley, 1985. "Aspects of Investor Behavior Under Risk," NBER Working Papers 1611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Engle, Robert F & Lilien, David M & Robins, Russell P, 1987. "Estimating Time Varying Risk Premia in the Term Structure: The Arch-M Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 391-407, March.
  15. Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The arbitrage theory of capital asset pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 341-360, December.
  16. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1980. "Price Inflation, Portfolio Choice, and Nominal Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 32-48, March.
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