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Ambiguity Aversion, the Equity Premium and the Welfare Costs of Business Cycles

Author

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  • Alonso, Irasema

    () (Yale University)

  • Prado, Jr., Jose Mauricio

    (Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University)

Abstract

We examine the potential importance of consumer ambiguity aversion for asset prices and how consumption ‡fluctuations influence consumer welfare. First, considering a simple Mehra-Prescott-style endowment economy with a representative agent facing consumption fluctuations calibrated to match U.S. data, we study to what extent ambiguity aversion can deliver asset prices that are consistent with data: a high return on equity and a low return on riskfree bonds. For some configurations of preference parameters— a discount factor, a degree of relative risk aversion, and a measure of ambiguity aversion— we find that it can. Then, we use these parameter configurations to investigate how much consumers would be willing to pay to reduce endowment fluctuations to zero, thus delivering a Lucas-style welfare cost of fluctuations. These costs turn out to be very large: consumers are willing to pay over 10% of consumption in permanent terms.

Suggested Citation

  • Alonso, Irasema & Prado, Jr., Jose Mauricio, 2007. "Ambiguity Aversion, the Equity Premium and the Welfare Costs of Business Cycles," Seminar Papers 752, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0752
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    2. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2008. "Ambiguity, Information Quality, and Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(1), pages 197-228, February.
    3. repec:cup:macdyn:v:8:y:2004:i:5:p:617-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Epstein, Larry G. & Schneider, Martin, 2003. "Recursive multiple-priors," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 1-31, November.
    5. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
    6. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    7. Coen-Pirani, Daniele, 2004. "Effects Of Differences In Risk Aversion On The Distribution Of Wealth," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(05), pages 617-632, November.
    8. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1984. "Optimal growth with many consumers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 139-171, February.
    9. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2003. "Macroeconomic Priorities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-14, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity aversion; asset prices; business cycle;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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