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Idiosyncratic risk and volatility bounds, or can models with idiosyncratic risk solve the equity premium puzzle?

  • Martin Lettau

This paper uses Hansen and Jagannathan's (1991) volatility bounds to evaluate models with idiosyncratic consumption risk. I show that idiosyncratic risk does not change the volatility bounds at all when consumers have CRRA preferences and the distribution of the idiosyncratic shock is independent of the aggregate state. Following Mankiw (1986), I then show that idiosyncratic risk can help to enter the bounds when idiosyncratic uncertainty depends on the aggregate state of the economy. Since individual consumption data are not reliable, I compute an upper bound of the volatility bounds using individual income data and assume that agents have to consume their endowment. I find that the model does not pass the Hansen and Jagannathan test even for very volatile idiosyncratic income data.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 130.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:130
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  1. Aiyagari, S. Rao & Gertler, Mark, 1991. "Asset returns with transactions costs and uninsured individual risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 311-331, June.
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  16. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, . "Persistent Idiosyncratic Shocks and Incomplete Markets," GSIA Working Papers 24, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  17. Sydney C. Ludvigson & Alexander Michaelides, 2001. "Does Buffer-Stock Saving Explain the Smoothness and Excess Sensitivity of Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 631-647, June.
  18. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  19. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-45, March.
  20. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
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