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What Does the Risk-Appetite Index Measure?


  • Miroslav Misina


Explanations of changes in asset prices as being due to exogenous changes in risk appetite, although arguably controversial, have been popular in the financial community and have also received some attention in attempts to account for recent financial crises. Operational versions of these explanations are based on the assumption that changes in asset prices can be decomposed into a part that can be attributed to changes in riskiness and a part attributable to changes in risk aversion, and that some quantitative measure can capture these effects in isolation. One such measure, the risk-appetite index (RAI)-- used in the financial community as well as in assessments of financial stability in emerging markets -- is based on the rank correlation between assets' riskiness and excess returns. The author seeks to provide a theoretical foundation for this measure. He summarizes the arguments behind the index in two propositions and attempts to derive these propositions within a class of well-specified asset-pricing models. His results indicate that, whereas the exclusive attribution of the rank effect to changes in risk aversion is problematic in general, a specific set of circumstances can be identified in which this attribution is permissible. The key assumption is identified, and its empirical implications are examined. In cases where this assumption is shown to be empirically valid, the model provides a theoretical foundation for the RAI.

Suggested Citation

  • Miroslav Misina, 2003. "What Does the Risk-Appetite Index Measure?," Staff Working Papers 03-23, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:03-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B. & Giannikos, Christos & Guirguis, Hany, 2004. "On the consequences of state dependent preferences for the pricing of financial assets," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 143-153, September.
    2. Miroslav Misina, 2003. "Are Distorted Beliefs Too Good to be True?," Staff Working Papers 03-4, Bank of Canada.
    3. Kumar, Manmohan S & Persaud, Avinash, 2002. "Pure Contagion and Investors' Shifting Risk Appetite: Analytical Issues and Empirical Evidence," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 401-436, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Forbes, Kristin J. & Warnock, Francis E., 2012. "Capital flow waves: Surges, stops, flight, and retrenchment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 235-251.
    2. Kristin J. Forbes & Francis E. Warnock, 2014. "Debt-and Equity-Led Capital Flow Episodes," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Miguel Fuentes D. & Claudio E. Raddatz & Carmen M. Reinhart (ed.), Capital Mobility and Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 18, chapter 9, pages 291-322 Central Bank of Chile.
    3. Prasanna Gai & Nicholas Vause, 2006. "Measuring Investors' Risk Appetite," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 2(1), March.
    4. Julien Chevallier & Mathieu Gatumel & Florian Ielpo, 2014. "Commodity markets through the business cycle," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(9), pages 1597-1618, September.
    5. Kristin J. Forbes & Francis E. Warnock, 2012. "Capital Debt -and Equity-Led Capital Flow Episodes," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 676, Central Bank of Chile.
    6. Marcello Pericoli & Massimo Sbracia, 2006. "The CAPM and the risk appetite index; theoretical differences and empirical similarities," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 586, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Marc Boissaux & Jang Schiltz, 2010. "An Optimal Control Approach to Portfolio Optimisation with Conditioning Information," LSF Research Working Paper Series 10-09, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.
    8. Coudert, Virginie & Gex, Mathieu, 2008. "Does risk aversion drive financial crises? Testing the predictive power of empirical indicators," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 167-184, March.
    9. Birgit Uhlenbrock, 2009. "Financial markets' appetite for risk - and the challenge of assessing its evolution by risk appetite indicators," IFC Bulletins chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Proceedings of the IFC Conference on "Measuring financial innovation and its impact", Basel, 26-27 August 2008, volume 31, pages 221-259 Bank for International Settlements.
    10. Deepa Dhume Datta & Juan M. Londono & Bo Sun & Daniel O. Beltran & Thiago Revil T. Ferreira & Matteo Iacoviello & Mohammad Jahan-Parvar & Canlin Li & Marius del Giudice Rodriguez & John H. Rogers, 2017. "Taxonomy of Global Risk, Uncertainty, and Volatility Measures," International Finance Discussion Papers 1216, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Claudio E. V. Borio, 2004. "Market distress and vanishing liquidity: anatomy and policy options," BIS Working Papers 158, Bank for International Settlements.
    12. Miroslav Misina, 2006. "Benchmark Index of Risk Appetite," Staff Working Papers 06-16, Bank of Canada.
    13. Manolescu, Gheorghe, 2011. "Appetite For Risk Of The Bank (I)," Studii Financiare (Financial Studies), Centre of Financial and Monetary Research "Victor Slavescu", vol. 15(2), pages 209-223.
    14. Tomas Adam & Sona Benecka & Jakub Mateju, 2014. "Risk Aversion, Financial Stress and Their Non-Linear Impact on Exchange Rates," Working Papers 2014/07, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    15. Brenda Gonzalez-Hermosillo & Vance Martin & Mardi Dungey & Renee Fry, 2003. "Characterizing Global Investors' Risk Appetite for Emerging Market Debt During Financial Crises," IMF Working Papers 03/251, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item


    Economic models; Financial markets;

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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