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Is there Evidence of Pessimism and Doubt in Subjective Distributions? A Comment on Abel

Abel (2002) shows that pessimism and doubt in the subjective distribution of the growth rate of consumption reduce the riskfree rate puzzle and the equity premium puzzle. We quantify the amount of pessimism and doubt in survey data on US consumption and income. Individual forecasters are in fact pessimistic, but show marked overconfidence rather than doubt. Whether this implies that overconfidence should be built into Abel's model depends on how the empirically heterogeneous subjective distributions are mapped into the distribution of a fictitious representative agent. We work out the form of this mapping in an Arrow-Debreu economy and show that the equity premium increases with the dispersion of beliefs. We then estimate this aggregate distribution and find little evidence of either overconfidence or doubt.

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Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 519.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: 14 Dec 2002
Date of revision: 15 Aug 2003
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0519
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  1. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
  2. Andrew B. Abel, 2001. "An exploration of the effects of pessimism and doubt on asset returns," Working Papers 01-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  4. Varian, Hal R, 1985. " Divergence of Opinion in Complete Markets: A Note," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(1), pages 309-17, March.
  5. Louis K. C. Chan & Jason Karceski & Josef Lakonishok, 2003. "The Level and Persistence of Growth Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 643-684, 04.
  6. Giordani, Paolo & Soderlind, Paul, 2000. "Inflation Forecast Uncertainty," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 384, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 09 Oct 2000.
  7. Hirshleifer, David, 2001. "Investor Psychology and Asset Pricing," MPRA Paper 5300, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Christoffersen, Peter F, 1998. "Evaluating Interval Forecasts," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 841-62, November.
  9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory And Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53, February.
  10. Aaron Tornell, 2000. "Robust-H-infinity Forecasting and Asset Pricing Anomalies," NBER Working Papers 7753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rubinstein, Mark, 1974. "An aggregation theorem for securities markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 225-244, September.
  12. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-45, November.
  13. Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 133-141, Winter.
  14. Detemple Jerome & Murthy Shashidhar, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Beliefs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 294-320, April.
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