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Stochastic Discount Factor Models and the Equity Premium Puzzle

Otrok, Christopher and Ravikumar, B and Whiteman, Charles (2001): Stochastic Discount Factor Models and the Equity Premium Puzzle.

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Abstract

One view of the equity premium puzzle is that in the standard asset-pricing model with time-separable preferences, the volatility of the stochastic discount factor, for plausible values of risk aversion, is too low to be consistent with consumption and asset return data. We adopt this characterization of the puzzle, due to Hansen and Jagannathan (1991), and establish two results: (i) resolutions of the puzzle based on complete frictionless markets and non-separabilities in preferences are very sensitive to small changes in the consumption data, and (ii) models with frictions avoid this sensitivity problem. Using quarterly data from 1947-97, we calibrate a state non-separable model and a time non-separable model to satisfy the Hansen-Jagannathan volatility bound and show that the two resolutions are not robust. We support our argument via a bootstrap experiment where the models almost always violate the bound. These violations are primarily due to the fact that small changes in consumption growth moments imply changes in the mean of the stochastic discount factor, which render the volatility of the stochastic discount factor to be too low relative to the bound. Asset-pricing models with frictions, however, are much more successful in the bootstrap experiment relative to the case without frictions.

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