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Investors Facing Risk: Loss Aversion and Wealth Allocation Between Risky and Risk-Free Assets

  • Rengifo, Erick W.
  • Trifan, Emanuela
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    This paper studies the impact of loss aversion on decisions regarding the allocation of wealth between risky and risk-free assets. We use a Value-at-Risk portfolio model with endogenous desired risk levels that are individually determined in an extended prospect theory framework. This framework allows for the distinction between gains and losses with respect to a subjective reference point as in the original prospect theory, but also for the influence of past performance on the current perception of the risky portfolio value. We show how the portfolio evaluation frequency impacts investor decisions and attitudes when facing financial losses and analyze the role of past gains and losses in the current wealth allocation. The perceived portfolio value exhibits distinct evolutions in two frequency segments delimitated by what we consider to be the optimal evaluation horizon of one year. Our empirical results suggest that previous research relying on VaR underestimates the aversion of real individual investors to financial losses.

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    Paper provided by Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL) in its series Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics with number 28063.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2007
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    Publication status: Published in Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics . 180 (2007-02)
    Handle: RePEc:dar:ddpeco:28063
    Note: for complete metadata visit http://tubiblio.ulb.tu-darmstadt.de/28063/
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    1. Berkelaar, A.B. & Kouwenberg, R.R.P., 2000. "From boom til bust: how loss aversion affects asset prices," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2000-21/A, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
    2. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
    3. Basak, Suleyman & Shapiro, Alexander, 2001. "Value-at-Risk-Based Risk Management: Optimal Policies and Asset Prices," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(2), pages 371-405.
    4. Uri Gneezy & Arie Kapteyn & Jan Potters, 2002. "Evaluation Periods and Assett Prices in a Market Experiment," Working Papers 02-02, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    5. Michael S. Haigh & John A. List, 2005. "Do Professional Traders Exhibit Myopic Loss Aversion? An Experimental Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 523-534, 02.
    6. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    7. Campbell, Rachel & Huisman, Ronald & Koedijk, Kees, 2001. "Optimal portfolio selection in a Value-at-Risk framework," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1789-1804, September.
    8. Bechara, Antoine & Damasio, Antonio R., 2005. "The somatic marker hypothesis: A neural theory of economic decision," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 336-372, August.
    9. Berkelaar, A.B. & Kouwenberg, R.R.P., 2000. "Optimal portfolio choice under loss aversion," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2000-08/A, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
    10. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
    11. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, . "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," CRSP working papers 494, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    12. Gneezy, U. & Potters, J.J.M., 1996. "An experiment on risk taking and evaluation periods," Discussion Paper 1996-61, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. Philippe Artzner & Freddy Delbaen & Jean-Marc Eber & David Heath, 1999. "Coherent Measures of Risk," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 203-228.
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