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Expectations of risk and return among household investors: Are their Sharpe ratios countercyclical?

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  • Eugene Amromin
  • Steven A. Sharpe

Abstract

Data obtained from special questions on the Michigan Survey of Consumer Attitudes over several years are used to analyze stock market beliefs and portfolio choices of household investors. Consistent with other survey results, expected future returns appear to be extrapolated from past realized returns. The data also indicate that expected risk and return are strongly influenced by economic prospects. When investors believe macroeconomic conditions are more expansionary, they tend to expect both higher returns and lower volatility, which implies that household Sharpe ratios are procyclical. Separately, perceived risk in equity returns is found to be strongly influenced by household investor characteristics, consistent with documented behavioral biases. These expectations reported by respondents are given credence by the finding that the proportion of equity holdings in respondent portfolios tends to be higher for those who report higher expected returns and lower uncertainty. Finally, the finding of procyclical expected returns holds up when we instead condition on conventional business cycle proxies such as the dividend yield and CAY, which yields a stark contrast with the inferences from studies based on actual returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Eugene Amromin & Steven A. Sharpe, 2008. "Expectations of risk and return among household investors: Are their Sharpe ratios countercyclical?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2008-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Broer, Tobias & Kero, Afroditi, 2014. "Collateralisation bubbles when investors disagree about risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 10148, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Apergis, Nicholas, 2015. "Financial portfolio choice: Do business cycle regimes matter? Panel evidence from international household surveys," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 14-27.
    3. Daniel Covitz & Nellie Liang & Tobias Adrian, 2015. "Financial Stability Monitoring," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 357-395, December.
    4. Kuchler, Theresa & Zafar, Basit, 2015. "Personal experiences and expectations about aggregate outcomes," Staff Reports 748, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    5. James Crotty, 2009. "Structural causes of the global financial crisis: a critical assessment of the 'new financial architecture'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 563-580, July.
    6. Basit Zafar & Theresa Kuchler, 2015. "Expectation Formation," 2015 Meeting Papers 678, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Merkle, Christoph & Weber, Martin, 2014. "Do investors put their money where their mouth is? Stock market expectations and investing behavior," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 372-386.
    8. Jacobsen, Ben & Lee, John B. & Marquering, Wessel & Zhang, Cherry Y., 2014. "Gender differences in optimism and asset allocation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PB), pages 630-651.

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    Stockholders ; Stocks;

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