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Distribution Risk and Equity Returns

  • Jean-Pierre Danthine
  • John B. Donaldson
  • Paolo Siconolfi

In this paper we entertain the hypothesis that observed variations in income shares are the result of changes in the balance of power between workers and capital owners in labor relations. We show that this view implies that income share variations represent a risk factor of ¯rst-order importance for the owners of capital and, consequently, are a crucial determinant of the return to equity. When both risks are calibrated to observations, this distribution risk dominates in importance the usual systematic risk for the pricing of assets. We also show that distribution risks may originate in non-traded idiosyncratic income shocks.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 05.10.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in The Equity Risk Premium, R. Mehra, ed., North Holland Handbook of Finance Series, Elsevier, North Holland, Amsterdam, 2008
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:05.10
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.64
Fax: ++41 21 692.33.05
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/seriesEmail:


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  1. M. Fatih Guvenen, 2003. "A Parsimonious Macroeconomic Model for Asset Pricing: Habit Formation or Cross-sectional Heterogeneity?," RCER Working Papers 499, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2000. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycle," Staff Report 280, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1995. "The equity premium: it's still a puzzle," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-45, November.
  5. William Goetzmann & Philippe Jorion, 1997. "A Century of Global Stock Markets," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm53, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2000.
  6. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B. & Mehra, Rajnish, 1992. "The equity premium and the allocation of income risk," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 509-532.
  7. Eugene Fama & F. & Kenneth R. French, . "The Equity Premium."," CRSP working papers 522, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  8. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," CRSP working papers 412, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  9. Jean-Pierre Danthine & John B. Donaldson, 2002. "Labour Relations and Asset Returns," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 41-64.
  10. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Taxes, Regulations, and the Value of U.S. and U.K. Corporations," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000715, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
  12. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  13. Boldrin, Michael & Horvath, Michael, 1995. "Labor Contracts and Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 972-1004, October.
  14. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  15. Michele Boldrin & Adrian Peralta-Alva, 2009. "What happened to the U.S. stock market? accounting for the past 50 years," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 627-646.
  16. Constantinides,George & Duffie,Darrel, 1992. "Asset pricing with heterogeneous consumers," Discussion Paper Serie A 381, University of Bonn, Germany.
  17. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  18. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "Is the Stock Market Overvalued?," NBER Working Papers 8077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  20. Dow, James Jr., 1995. "Real business cycles and labor markets with imperfectly flexible wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1683-1696, December.
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