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Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment

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  • Peter Bossaerts
  • Paolo Ghirardato
  • Serena Guarnaschelli
  • William R. Zame

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of ambiguity and ambiguity aversion on equilibrium asset prices and portfolio holdings in competitive financial markets. It argues that attitudes toward ambiguity are heterogeneous across the population, just as attitudes toward risk are heterogeneous across the population, but that heterogeneity of attitudes toward ambiguity has different implications than heterogeneity of attitudes toward risk. In particular, when some state probabilities are not known, agents who are sufficiently ambiguity averse find open sets of prices for which they refuse to hold an ambiguous portfolio. This suggests a different cross-section of portfolio choices, a wider range of state price/probability ratios and different rankings of state price/probability ratios than would be predicted if state probabilities were known. Experiments confirm all of these suggestions. Our findings contradict the claim that investors who have cognitive biases do not affect prices because they are infra-marginal: ambiguity averse investors have an indirect effect on prices because they change the per-capita amount of risk that is to be shared among the marginal investors. Our experimental data also suggest a positive correlation between risk aversion and ambiguity aversion that might explain the "value effect" in historical data.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Bossaerts & Paolo Ghirardato & Serena Guarnaschelli & William R. Zame, 2006. "Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 27, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:27
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-465, June.
    3. Raman Uppal & Tan Wang, 2003. "Model Misspecification and Underdiversification," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2465-2486, December.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5393 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Peter Bossaerts & Charles Plott, 2004. "Basic Principles of Asset Pricing Theory: Evidence from Large-Scale Experimental Financial Markets," Review of Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 135-169.
    6. Peter Bossaerts & Charles Plott & William R. Zame, 2005. "Prices and Portfolio Choices in Financial Markets: Theory and Experiments," UCLA Economics Working Papers 840, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Marco Cagetti & Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams, 2002. "Robustness and Pricing with Uncertain Growth," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(2), pages 363-404, March.
    8. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
    9. Brian D. Kluger & Steve B. Wyatt, 2004. "Are Judgment Errors Reflected in Market Prices and Allocations? Experimental Evidence Based on the Monty Hall Problem," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(3), pages 969-998, June.
    10. Uri Gneezy & Arie Kapteyn & Jan Potters, 2003. "Evaluation Periods and Asset Prices in a Market Experiment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 821-838, April.
    11. Ghirardato, Paolo & Maccheroni, Fabio & Marinacci, Massimo, 2004. "Differentiating ambiguity and ambiguity attitude," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 133-173, October.
    12. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    13. Rose-Anne Dana, 2004. "Ambiguity, uncertainty aversion and equilibrium welfare," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 23(3), pages 569-587, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity; Experiments; Financial Markets; Heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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