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Risk Aversion and Skewness Preference: a comment

  • Post, G.T.
  • van Vliet, P.

Empirically, co-skewness of asset returns seems to explain a substantial part of the cross-sectional variation of mean return not explained by beta. Thisfinding is typically interpreted in terms of a risk averse representativeinvestor with a cubic utility function. This comment questions thisinterpretation. We show that the empirical tests fail to impose risk aversionand the implied utility function takes an inverse S-shape. Unfortunately, thefirst-order conditions are not sufficient to guarantee that the market portfoliois the global maximum for an inverse S-shaped utility function, and ourresults suggest that the market portfolio is more likely to represent theglobal minimum than the global maximum. In addition, if we impose riskaversion, then co-skewness has minimal explanatory power.

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File URL: http://repub.eur.nl/pub/319/ERS-2003-009-F&A.pdf
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Paper provided by Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam in its series ERIM Report Series Research in Management with number ERS-2003-009-F&A.

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Date of creation: 29 Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ems:eureri:319
Contact details of provider: Postal: RSM Erasmus University & Erasmus School of Economics, PoBox 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam
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  1. Simkowitz, Michael A. & Beedles, William L., 1978. "Diversification in a Three-Moment World," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(05), pages 927-941, December.
  2. Campbell R. Harvey & Akhtar Siddique, 2000. "Conditional Skewness in Asset Pricing Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1263-1295, 06.
  3. Kraus, Alan & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1976. "Skewness Preference and the Valuation of Risk Assets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1085-1100, September.
  4. 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.
  5. Friend, Irwin & Westerfield, Randolph, 1980. " Co-Skewness and Capital Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(4), pages 897-913, September.
  6. Levy, Haim, 1978. "Equilibrium in an Imperfect Market: A Constraint on the Number of Securities in the Portfolio," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 643-58, September.
  7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Heaton, John & Yaron, Amir, 1996. "Finite-Sample Properties of Some Alternative GMM Estimators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 262-80, July.
  8. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151.
  9. Tsiang, S C, 1972. "The Rationale of the Mean-Standard Deviation Analysis, Skewness Preference, and the Demand for Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 354-71, June.
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