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Measuring investors' risk appetite


  • Prasanna Gai
  • Nicholas Vause


This paper proposes a new method for measuring investor 'risk appetite'. Like other indicators in the literature, it is based on a comparison of risk-neutral probabilities of future returns with the corresponding subjective probabilities. The precise nature of the comparison is novel, however, and involves comparing probabilities across the full range of potential returns. Unlike other indicators, our measure of market sentiment distinguishes risk appetite from risk aversion, and is reported in levels rather than changes. Implementation of the approach yields results that respond to crises and other major economic events in a plausible manner.

Suggested Citation

  • Prasanna Gai & Nicholas Vause, 2005. "Measuring investors' risk appetite," Bank of England working papers 283, Bank of England.
  • Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:283

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B., 2014. "Intermediate Financial Theory," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 3, number 9780123865496.
    2. Owen Lamont, 1998. "Earnings and Expected Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1563-1587, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Miroslav Misina, 2003. "What does the risk-appetite index measure?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 28(6), pages 1-6.
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    6. Campbell, John Y & Shiller, Robert J, 1988. " Stock Prices, Earnings, and Expected Dividends," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 661-676, July.
    7. Ait-Sahalia, Yacine & Lo, Andrew W., 2000. "Nonparametric risk management and implied risk aversion," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 9-51.
    8. Bollerslev, Tim & Gibson, Michael & Zhou, Hao, 2011. "Dynamic estimation of volatility risk premia and investor risk aversion from option-implied and realized volatilities," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 160(1), pages 235-245, January.
    9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53.
    10. 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.
    11. Jackwerth, Jens Carsten, 2000. "Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(2), pages 433-451.
    12. Chen, Nai-Fu & Roll, Richard & Ross, Stephen A, 1986. "Economic Forces and the Stock Market," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 383-403, July.
    13. Robert R. Bliss & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2004. "Option-Implied Risk Aversion Estimates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 407-446, February.
    14. Glosten, Lawrence R & Jagannathan, Ravi & Runkle, David E, 1993. " On the Relation between the Expected Value and the Volatility of the Nominal Excess Return on Stocks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1779-1801, December.
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    16. Kothari, S. P. & Shanken, Jay, 1992. "Stock return variation and expected dividends : A time-series and cross-sectional analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 177-210, April.
    17. Kenneth A. Froot & Paul G. J. O'Connell, 2003. "The Risk Tolerance of International Investors," NBER Working Papers 10157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing

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