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Uncovering the Risk-Return Relation in the Stock Market

  • Hui Guo
  • Robert F. Whitelaw
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There is an ongoing debate in the literature about the apparent weak or negative relation between risk (conditional variance) and return (expected returns) in the aggregate stock market. We develop and estimate an empirical model based on the ICAPM to investigate this relation. Our primary innovation is to model and identify empirically the two components of expected returns--the risk component and the component due to the desire to hedge changes in investment opportunities. We also explicitly model the effect of shocks to expected returns on ex post returns and use implied volatility from traded options to increase estimation efficiency. As a result, the coefficient of relative risk aversion is estimated more precisely, and we find it to be positive and reasonable in magnitude. Although volatility risk is priced, as theory dictates, it contributes only a small amount to the time-variation in expected returns. Expected returns are driven primarily by the desire to hedge changes in investment opportunities. It is the omission of this hedge component that is responsible for the contradictory and counter-intuitive results in the existing literature.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9927.

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Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Guo, Hui and Robert F. Whitelaw. "Uncovering The Risk-Return Relation In The Stock Market," Journal of Finance, 2006, v61(3,Jun), 1433-1463.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9927
Note: AP
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  1. Whitelaw, Robert F, 2000. "Stock Market Risk and Return: An Equilibrium Approach," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(3), pages 521-47.
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