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Ambiguity and Time-Varying Risk Aversion in Sovereign Debt Markets

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  • Christoph Große Steffen
  • Maximilian Podstawski

Abstract

This paper introduces changes in the level of ambiguity as a complementary source of time-varying risk aversion. We show in a consumption-based asset pricing model with simultaneously risky and ambiguous assets that a rise in the level of ambiguity raises investors' risk aversion. The effect is quantified in an application to European sovereign debt markets using a structural VAR to achieve identification in the data. We proxy for ambiguity using a measure of macroeconomic uncertainty and decompose empirically credit default swaps (CDS) for Spain and Italy into three shocks: fundamental default risk, risk aversion, and uncertainty. We find that shocks to uncertainty significantly increase international investors' risk aversion, accounting for about one fifth of its variation at a five week horizon, and have a significant and economically relevant impact on sovereign financing premia

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Große Steffen & Maximilian Podstawski, 2016. "Ambiguity and Time-Varying Risk Aversion in Sovereign Debt Markets," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1602, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1602
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Time-varying risk aversion; Ambiguity; Uncertainty; Sovereign debt; Identification via heteroscedasticity; Maxmin;

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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