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Belief-Dependent Utilities, Aversion to State-Uncertainty and Asset Prices

Pietro Veronesi

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

September 2001

CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2965

This Paper reinterprets standard axioms in choice theory to introduce the concepts of 'belief dependent' utility functions and aversion to 'state-uncertainty'. It shows that this type of preference helps to explain the various stylized facts of asset returns, including a high equity risk premium, a low risk-free rate, a high return volatility, stock return predictability and volatility clustering. In one particular specification consistent with habit formation preferences, I also argue that 'aversion to state-uncertainty' gives rise to 'aversion to long-run risk', that is, to the uncertainty surrounding the long-run average of future consumption. In order to solve for asset prices and returns under general conditions about the hidden state variable, the Paper also develops a descretization methodology to obtain approximate analytical solutions. In a parsimonious parametrization, I then show that the model calibrated to real consumption generates unconditional moments for asset returns that closely match the empirical ones. Finally, due to the estimated time-variation in the dispersion of the conditional distribution on the drift rate of consumption, the model also generates a time series of conditional return volatility in line with the ex-post integrated volatility of stock returns.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 66

Keywords: State dependent preferences, uncertainty aversion, asset pricing

JEL Classification: D81, G12

working papers series

Date posted: September 28, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Veronesi, Pietro, Belief-Dependent Utilities, Aversion to State-Uncertainty and Asset Prices (September 2001). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2965. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=285511

Contact Information

Pietro Veronesi (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-6348 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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