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Equity Risk Premiums (ERP): Determinants, Estimation and Implications - The 2010 Edition


Aswath Damodaran


New York University - Stern School of Business

February 14, 2010


Abstract:     
Equity risk premiums are a central component of every risk and return model in finance and are a key input into estimating costs of equity and capital in both corporate finance and valuation. Given their importance, it is surprising how haphazard the estimation of equity risk premiums remains in practice. We begin this paper by looking at the economic determinants of equity risk premiums, including investor risk aversion, information uncertainty and perceptions of macroeconomic risk. In the standard approach to estimating equity risk premiums, historical returns are used, with the difference in annual returns on stocks versus bonds over a long time period comprising the expected risk premium. We note the limitations of this approach, even in markets like the United States, which have long periods of historical data available, and its complete failure in emerging markets, where the historical data tends to be limited and volatile. We look at two other approaches to estimating equity risk premiums – the survey approach, where investors and managers are asked to assess the risk premium and the implied approach, where a forward-looking estimate of the premium is estimated using either current equity prices or risk premiums in non-equity markets. We also look at the relationship between the equity risk premium and risk premiums in the bond market (default spreads) and in real estate (cap rates) and how that relationship can be mined to generated expected equity risk premiums. We close the paper by examining why different approaches yield different values for the equity risk premium, and how to choose the “right” number to use in analysis.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 89

Keywords: Equity Risk Premiums, Default Spreads

JEL Classification: G12, G31,G34

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Date posted: February 21, 2010 ; Last revised: August 23, 2010

Suggested Citation

Damodaran, Aswath, Equity Risk Premiums (ERP): Determinants, Estimation and Implications - The 2010 Edition (February 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1556382 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1556382

Contact Information

Aswath Damodaran (Contact Author)
New York University - Stern School of Business ( email )
Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States
212-998-0340 (Phone)
212-995-4233 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.damodaran.com
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