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Utility-Based Utility

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  • David Cass

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

A major virtue of von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities, for example, in the theory of general financial equilibrium (GFE), is that they ensure intertemporal consistency: consumption-portfolio plans (for the future) are in fact executed (in the future) — assuming that there is perfect foresight about relevant endogenous variables. This note proposes an alternative to expected utility, one which also delivers consistency between plan and execution — and more. In particular, it turns out that one special case is in fact simply discounted (subjective) expected utility. Moreover, this alternative formulation affords an extremely natural setting for introducing extrinsic uncertainty. The key idea behind my approach is to divorce the concept of filtration (of the state space) from any considerations involving probability (on the state space), and then concentrate attention on nested utilities of consumption looking forward from any date-event: utility today depends only on consumption today and prospective utility of consumption tomorrow, utility tomorrow depends only on consumption tomorrow and prospective utility of consumption the day after tomorrow, and so on.

Suggested Citation

  • David Cass, 2007. "Utility-Based Utility," PIER Working Paper Archive 08-001, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 04 Jan 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:08-001
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    File URL: http://economics.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/working-papers/08-001.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Balasko, Yves, 1983. "Extrinsic uncertainty revisited," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 203-210, December.
    2. Cass, David & Shell, Karl, 1983. "Do Sunspots Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 193-227, April.
    3. Johnsen, Thore H & Donaldson, John B, 1985. "The Structure of Intertemporal Preferences under Uncertainty and Time Consistent Plans," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1451-1458, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Utility theory; Expected utility; Intertemporal consistency; Extrinsic uncertainty; Cass-Shell Immunity Theorem;

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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