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Ambiguity Aversion and Variance Premium


  • Jianjun Miao

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Bin Wei

    () (Capital Markets Section, Federal Reserve Board)

  • Hao Zhou

    () (Capital Markets Section, Federal Reserve Board)


This paper offers an ambiguity-based interpretation of variance premium - the differ- ence between risk-neutral and objective expectations of market return variance - as a com- pounding effect of both belief distortion and variance differential regarding the uncertain economic regimes. Our approach endogenously generates variance premium without impos- ing exogenous stochastic volatility or jumps in consumption process. Such a framework can reasonably match the mean variance premium as well as the mean equity premium, equity volatility, and the mean risk-free rate in the data. We find that about 96 percent of the mean variance premium can be attributed to ambiguity aversion. Applying the model to historical consumption data, we find that variance premium mostly captures depressions, deep recessions, and financial panics, with a post war peak in 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Jianjun Miao & Bin Wei & Hao Zhou, 2012. "Ambiguity Aversion and Variance Premium," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2012-009, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2012-009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Epstein, Larry G. & Miao, Jianjun, 2003. "A two-person dynamic equilibrium under ambiguity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 1253-1288, May.
    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. Philippe Mueller & Andrea Vedolin & Hao Zhou, 2011. "Short Run Bond Risk Premia," FMG Discussion Papers dp686, Financial Markets Group.
    4. Zengjing Chen & Larry Epstein, 2002. "Ambiguity, Risk, and Asset Returns in Continuous Time," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1403-1443, July.
    5. Nengjiu Ju & Jianjun Miao, 2012. "Ambiguity, Learning, and Asset Returns," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(2), pages 559-591, March.
    6. Hui Chen & Nengjiu Ju & Jianjun Miao, 2014. "Dynamic Asset Allocation with Ambiguous Return Predictability," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 799-823, October.
    7. Miao, Jianjun & Hayashi, Takashi, 2011. "Intertemporal substitution and recursive smooth ambiguity preferences," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(3), September.
    8. Bollerslev, Tim & Marrone, James & Xu, Lai & Zhou, Hao, 2014. "Stock Return Predictability and Variance Risk Premia: Statistical Inference and International Evidence," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 633-661, June.
    9. Fabrice Collard & Sujoy Mukerji & Kevin Sheppard & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2011. "Ambiguity and the historical equity premium," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 11032r, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, revised Aug 2012.
    10. Lawrence J. Christiano & Michele Boldrin & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2001. "Habit Persistence, Asset Returns, and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 149-166, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qi Nan Zhai, 2015. "Asset Pricing Under Ambiguity and Heterogeneity," PhD Thesis, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, number 16.
    2. Gonçalo Faria & João Correia-da-Silva, 2014. "A closed-form solution for options with ambiguity about stochastic volatility," Review of Derivatives Research, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 125-159, July.
    3. Konstantinidi, Eirini & Skiadopoulos, George, 2016. "How does the market variance risk premium vary over time? Evidence from S&P 500 variance swap investment returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 62-75.
    4. Park, Yang-Ho, 2015. "Volatility-of-volatility and tail risk hedging returns," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 38-63.
    5. Aramonte, Sirio, 2014. "Macroeconomic uncertainty and the cross-section of option returns," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 25-49.

    More about this item


    Ambiguity aversion; learning; variance premium; regime-shift; belief distortion;

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

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