Practical Utility, Risk Aversion, and Investment Sizing

12 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016 Last revised: 5 Dec 2016

Date Written: November 16, 2016


Concepts of utility and optimizing expected incremental utility are ubiquitous in economics, and also in the academic literature of gambling. However, we have been surprised how little these concepts have impacted real-world finance, despite in many cases providing tools which are both helpful and practical. This seems especially odd given the finance and investment world’s ostensible focus on risk management and risk-adjusted returns. We seek to explain how the concept of utility is both central and practical, and how tools arising from maximizing expected incremental utility are central to the important question of investment sizing.

Suggested Citation

White, James, Practical Utility, Risk Aversion, and Investment Sizing (November 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

James White (Contact Author)

Elm Partners ( email )

1630 Willow View Drive
PO Box 1417
Wilson, WY 83014

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