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Loss aversion, asymmetric market comovements, and the home bias

  • Kevin Amonlirdviman
  • Carlos Carvalho

Loss aversion has been used to explain why a high equity premium might be consistent with plausible levels of risk aversion. The intuition is that the different utility impact of wealth gains and losses leads loss-averse investors to behave similarly to investors with high risk aversion. But if so, should these agents not perceive larger gains from international diversification than standard expected-utility preference agents with plausible levels of risk aversion? They might not, because comovements in international stock markets are asymmetric: Correlations are higher in market downturns than in upturns. This asymmetry dampens the gains from diversification relatively more for loss-averse investors. We analyze the portfolio problem of such an investor who has to choose between home and foreign equities in the presence of asymmetric comovement in returns. Perhaps surprisingly, in the context of the home bias puzzle we find that the loss-averse investors behave similarly to those with standard expected-utility preferences and plausible levels of risk aversion. We argue that preference specifications that appear to perform well with respect to the equity premium puzzle should be subjected to this "test."

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 430.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:430
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  1. van Wincoop, Eric, 1999. "How big are potential welfare gains from international risksharing?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 109-135, February.
  2. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 1999. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 7220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. French, Kenneth R & Poterba, James M, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 222-26, May.
  4. Das, Sanjiv Ranjan & Uppal, Raman, 2002. "Systemic Risk and International Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 3305, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Karen K. Lewis, 1999. "Trying to Explain Home Bias in Equities and Consumption," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(2), pages 571-608, June.
  6. Samuelson, Paul A, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 239-46, August.
  7. Andrew Patton, 2004. "Modelling Asymmetric Exchange Rate Dependence," Working Papers wp04-04, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
  8. Mervyn King & Enrique Sentana & Sushil Wadhwani, 1990. "Volatiltiy and Links Between National Stock Markets," NBER Working Papers 3357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. G. Andrew Karolyi & Rene M. Stulz, 2002. "Are Financial Assets Priced Locally or Globally?," NBER Working Papers 8994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  11. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert, 2002. "International Asset Allocation With Regime Shifts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(4), pages 1137-1187.
  12. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  13. 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.
  14. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-57, August.
  15. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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