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Why people choose negative expected return assets - an empirical examination of a utility theoretic explanation

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  • Thomas A. Garrett
  • Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya

Abstract

Using a theoretical extension of the Friedman and Savage (1948) utility function developed in Bhattacharyya (2003), we predict that for financial assets with negative expected returns, expected return will be a declining and convex function of skewness. Using a sample of U.S. state lottery games, we find that our theoretical conclusions are supported by the data. Our results have external validity as they also hold for an alternative and more aggregated sample of lottery game data.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas A. Garrett & Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya, 2006. "Why people choose negative expected return assets - an empirical examination of a utility theoretic explanation," Working Papers 2006-014, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2006-014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Garrett, Thomas A. & Sobel, Russell S., 1999. "Gamblers favor skewness, not risk: Further evidence from United States' lottery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 85-90, April.
    2. Ali, Mukhtar M, 1977. "Probability and Utility Estimates for Racetrack Bettors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 803-815, August.
    3. Bailey, Martin J & Olson, Mancur & Wonnacott, Paul, 1980. "The Marginal Utility of Income Does not Increase: Borrowing, Lending, and Friedman-Savage Gambles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 372-379, June.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    5. Lisa Farrell & Roger Hartley, 2002. "Can expected utility theory explain gambling?," Open Access publications 10197/539, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    6. Kearney, Melissa Schettini, 2005. "State lotteries and consumer behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2269-2299, December.
    7. Joseph Golec & Maurry Tamarkin, 1998. "Bettors Love Skewness, Not Risk, at the Horse Track," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 205-225, February.
    8. McEnally, Richard W, 1974. "A Note on the Return Behavior of High Risk Common Stocks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(1), pages 199-202, March.
    9. Roger Hartley & Lisa Farrell, 2002. "Can Expected Utility Theory Explain Gambling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 613-624, June.
    10. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279-279.
    11. 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.
    12. Donkers, Bas & Melenberg, Bertrand & Van Soest, Arthur, 2001. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries: A Large Sample Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 165-195, March.
    13. Quiggin, John, 1991. "On the Optimal Design of Lotteries," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(229), pages 1-16, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eraker, Bjørn & Ready, Mark, 2015. "Do investors overpay for stocks with lottery-like payoffs? An examination of the returns of OTC stocks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 486-504.
    2. Narayan, Paresh Kumar & Ahmed, Huson Ali, 2014. "Importance of skewness in decision making: Evidence from the Indian stock exchange," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 260-269.
    3. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Aversion to risk of regret and preference for positively skewed risks," TSE Working Papers 16-646, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Sep 2016.
    4. Griffith, Andrew P. & Lewis, Karen E. & Boyer, Christopher N., 2015. "Timing the Purchase of Livestock Risk Protection Insurance for Feeder Cattle," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 196869, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Eichner, Thomas & Wagener, Andreas, 2011. "Increases in skewness and three-moment preferences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 109-113, March.
    6. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Explaining rank-dependent utility with regret and rejoicing," IDEI Working Papers 863, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.

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