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The Significance of the Market Portfolio

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Abstract

The market portfolio (world portfolio) is in one sense a least important portfolio to provide to investors; there is always a better portfolio for social planners to make available to them. In a J-agent one-period stochastic endowment economy, where preferences are quadratic, the market portfolio is never spanned by the optimal markets a social planner would create. With identical preferences, the market portfolio is orthogonal to all J - 1 portfolios which achieve a first best solution. These conclusions rely on the assumption that the social planner has perfect information about agents' utilities. We also show that as the contract designer's information about agents' utilities becomes more imperfect, the optimal contracts approach contracts that weight individual endowments in proportion to elements of eigenvectors of the variance matrix of endowments. If there is a substantial market component to endowments than a social planner, for reasons of robustness and simplicity, may conclude that creating a contract to allow trading the market portfolio would be a significant innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano G. Athanasoulis & Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "The Significance of the Market Portfolio," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1154, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1154
    Note: CFP 997.
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    1. Geanakoplos, John, 1990. "An introduction to general equilibrium with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-38.
    2. Duffie Darrell & Rahi Rohit, 1995. "Financial Market Innovation and Security Design: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-42, February.
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    6. Magill, Michael & Shafer, Wayne, 1991. "Incomplete markets," Handbook of Mathematical Economics,in: W. Hildenbrand & H. Sonnenschein (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 30, pages 1523-1614 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Viral V. Acharya & Alberto Bisin, 2005. "Optimal Financial-Market Integration and Security Design," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(6), pages 2397-2434, November.
    2. Shiller, Robert J., 1999. "Social security and institutions for intergenerational, intragenerational, and international risk-sharing," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 165-204, June.
    3. Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "Expanding the Scope of Individual Risk Management: Moral Hazard and Other Behavioral Considerations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1145, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Acharya, Viral V & Bisin, Alberto, 2002. "Entrepreneurial Incentives in Stock Market Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 3474, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Calvet, Laurent & Gonzalez-Eiras, Martín & Sodini, Paolo, 2004. "Financial Innovation, Market Participation, and Asset Prices," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 431-459, September.
    6. Stefano G. Athanasoulis & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "World Income Components: Measuring and Exploiting Risk-Sharing Opportunities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1031-1054, September.
    7. Athanasoulis, S. & Shiller, R.J., 1995. "World Income Components: Measuring and Exploting International Risk Sharing Opportunities," Papers 725, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    8. Mark J. Kamstra & Robert J. Shiller, 2009. "The Case for Trills: Giving the People and Their Pension Funds a Stake in the Wealth of the Nation," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1717, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    9. G. Glenn Baigent & William Acar, 2015. "On the economic significance of the benchmark portfolio," Journal of Economic and Financial Studies (JEFS), LAR Center Press, vol. 3(6), pages 16-25, December.
    10. Bossaerts, Peter & Fine, Leslie & Ledyard, John, 2002. "Inducing liquidity in thin financial markets through combined-value trading mechanisms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(9), pages 1671-1695, October.
    11. Miklós Koren, 2003. "Financial Globalization, Portfolio Diversification, and the Pattern of International Trade," IMF Working Papers 03/233, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Athanasoulis, Stefano G. & Shiller, Robert J., 2002. "Defining residual risk-sharing opportunities: Pooling world income components," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-84, June.
    13. Shawn Cole & Xavier Gine & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2013. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 104-135, January.
    14. Graham, Liam & Wright, Stephen, 2010. "Information, heterogeneity and market incompleteness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 164-174, March.
    15. Maria Giduskova & Borja Larrain, 2006. "International risk-taking, volatility, and consumption growth," Communities and Banking, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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