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Estimates of the Marginal Rate of Time Preference and Average Risk Aversion of Investors in Electric Utility Shares: 1960-66


  • Robert H. Litzenberger
  • Cherukuri U. Rao


This paper develops an econometric model of the valuation of electric utility shares. This model, based upon the Sharpe-Lintner capital market theory, yields indirect estimates of the marginal rate of time preference and average risk aversion of investors in electric utility shares during the period 1960-66. In general, the empirical findings are consistent with the Sharpe-Lintner positive theory of the valuation of risk assets. Investors are found to be risk averse, and the relationship between required return and standard deviation is found to be approximately linear within the range of the sample. From a normative perspective, these estimates of the marginal rate of time preference and risk aversion are shown to yield individual firm cost of capital estimates. In a prior study of the cost of capital to the electric utility industry, Miller and Modigliani assumed that electric utilities were homogeneous with respect to operating risk. The approach employed in the present study takes explicit cognizance of intra-industry differences in operating risk. That is, each firm is considered to be in a unique "risk class," and hence to have a unique marginal cost of equity capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert H. Litzenberger & Cherukuri U. Rao, 1971. "Estimates of the Marginal Rate of Time Preference and Average Risk Aversion of Investors in Electric Utility Shares: 1960-66," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 265-277, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:2:y:1971:i:spring:p:265-277

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Westfield, Fred M, 1971. "Methodology of Evaluating Economic Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 211-217, May.
    2. MacAvoy, Paul W, 1971. "The Regulation-Induced Shortage of Natural Gas," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 167-199, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barth, Mary E. & Landsman, Wayne R. & Wahlen, James M., 1995. "Fair value accounting: Effects on banks' earnings volatility, regulatory capital, and value of contractual cash flows," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 577-605, June.
    2. Arthur J. Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1925-1953, December.
    3. DeYoung, Robert & Roland, Karin P., 2001. "Product Mix and Earnings Volatility at Commercial Banks: Evidence from a Degree of Total Leverage Model," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 54-84, January.
    4. Dilip K. Shome & Stephen D. Smith & Arnold A. Heggestad, 1986. "Capital Adequacy And The Valuation Of Large Commercial Banking Organizations," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 9(4), pages 331-341, December.

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