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Risk aversion vs. intertemporal substitution: identification failure in the intertemporal consumption CAPM


  • Christopher J. Neely
  • Amlan Roy
  • Charles H. Whiteman


Is the risk aversion parameter in the simple intertemporal consumption CAPM “small” as in Hansen and Singleton (1982,1983), or is it that its reciprocal, the intertemporal elasticity of substitution, is small, as in Hall (1988)? This paper attributes the disparate estimates of this fundamental parameter not only to failures of instrument admissibility as do Hall (1988) and Hansen-Singleton (1996), but rather to failures of instrument relevance. That is, the disparate estimates reflect near nonidentification due to the unpredictability of asset returns and consumption growth. One natural identifying restriction from the risk aversion perspective leads to estimates that are low and stable over both time and model specifications. An equally natural identifying restriction from the intertemporal substitution perspective leads to estimates of the reciprocal that are also low and stable.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Neely & Amlan Roy & Charles H. Whiteman, 1999. "Risk aversion vs. intertemporal substitution: identification failure in the intertemporal consumption CAPM," Working Papers 1995-002, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1995-002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
    2. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-286, April.
    3. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-265, April.
    4. Braun, Phillip A. & Constantinides, George M. & Ferson, Wayne E., 1993. "Time nonseparability in aggregate consumption : International evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 897-920, June.
    5. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-1445, November.
    6. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-487, June.
    7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1996. "Efficient Estimation of Linear Asset-Pricing Models with Moving Average Errors," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 53-68, January.
    8. Ferson, Wayne E. & Constantinides, George M., 1991. "Habit persistence and durability in aggregate consumption: Empirical tests," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 199-240, October.
    9. Wheatley, Simon, 1988. "Some tests of the consumption-based asset pricing model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 193-215, September.
    10. Luttmer, Erzo G J, 1996. "Asset Pricing in Economies with Frictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1439-1467, November.
    11. Heaton, John, 1993. "The Interaction between Time-Nonseparable Preferences and Time Aggregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(2), pages 353-385, March.
    12. Breeden, Douglas T & Gibbons, Michael R & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1989. " Empirical Tests of the Consumption-Oriented CAPM," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(2), pages 231-262, June.
    13. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-1286, September.
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    Capital assets pricing model ; Consumption (Economics);

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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