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Substitution, Risk Aversion and Asset Prices: An Expected Utility Approach

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  • Benjamin Eden

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

The standard power utility function is widely used to explain asset prices. It assumes that the coefficient of relative risk aversion is the inverse of the elasticity of substitution. Here I use the Kihlstrom and Mirman (1974) expected utility approach to relax this assumption. I use time consistent preferences that lead to time consistent plans. In our examples, the past does not matter much for current portfolio decisions. The risk aversion parameter can be inferred from experiments and introspections about bets in terms of permanent consumption (wealth). Evidence about the change in the attitude towards bets over the life cycle may also restrict the value of the risk aversion parameter. Monotonic transformations of the standard power utility function do not change the predictions about asset prices by much. Both the elasticity of substitution and risk aversion play a role in determining the equity premium.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Eden, 2008. "Substitution, Risk Aversion and Asset Prices: An Expected Utility Approach," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0803, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0803
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Average Debt and Equity Returns: Puzzling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 392-397, May.
    3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-1445, November.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    5. Kihlstrom, Richard E. & Mirman, Leonard J., 1974. "Risk aversion with many commodities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 361-388, July.
    6. Bezalel Peleg & Menahem E. Yaari, 1973. "On the Existence of a Consistent Course of Action when Tastes are Changing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 391-401.
    7. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1481-1509, August.
    8. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-543, June.
    9. Selden, Larry, 1978. "A New Representation of Preferences over "Certain A Uncertain" Consumption Pairs: The "Ordinal Certainty Equivalent" Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1045-1060, September.
    10. Eden, Benjamin, 1977. "The role of insurance and gambling in allocating risk over time," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 228-246, December.
    11. Beaudry, Paul & van Wincoop, Eric, 1996. "The Intertemporal Elasticity of Substitution: An Exploration Using a US Panel of State Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(251), pages 495-512, August.
    12. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
    13. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    14. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumption smoothing; intertemporal elasticity of substitution; risk aversion; asset prices; equity premium;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • 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
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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