NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Uncovering the Risk-Return Relation in the Stock Market

Hui Guo, Robert F. Whitelaw

NBER Working Paper No. 9927
Issued in August 2003
NBER Program(s):   AP

There is an ongoing debate in the literature about the apparent weak or negative relation between risk (conditional variance) and return (expected returns) in the aggregate stock market. We develop and estimate an empirical model based on the ICAPM to investigate this relation. Our primary innovation is to model and identify empirically the two components of expected returns--the risk component and the component due to the desire to hedge changes in investment opportunities. We also explicitly model the effect of shocks to expected returns on ex post returns and use implied volatility from traded options to increase estimation efficiency. As a result, the coefficient of relative risk aversion is estimated more precisely, and we find it to be positive and reasonable in magnitude. Although volatility risk is priced, as theory dictates, it contributes only a small amount to the time-variation in expected returns. Expected returns are driven primarily by the desire to hedge changes in investment opportunities. It is the omission of this hedge component that is responsible for the contradictory and counter-intuitive results in the existing literature.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9927

Published: Guo, Hui and Robert F. Whitelaw. "Uncovering The Risk-Return Relation In The Stock Market," Journal of Finance, 2006, v61(3,Jun), 1433-1463. citation courtesy of

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