The Total Risk Premium Puzzle
The risk premium puzzle is worse than you think. Using a new database for the U.S. and 15 other advanced economies from 1870 to the present that includes housing as well as equity returns (to capture the full risky capital portfolio of the representative agent), standard calculations using returns to total wealth and consumption show that: housing returns in the long run are comparable to those of equities, and yet housing returns have lower volatility and lower covariance with consumption growth than equities. The same applies to a weighted total-wealth portfolio, and over a range of horizons. As a result, the implied risk aversion parameters for housing wealth and total wealth are even larger than those for equities, often by a factor of 2 or more. We find that more exotic models cannot resolve these even bigger puzzles, and we see little role for limited participation, idiosyncratic housing risk, transaction costs, or liquidity premiums.
This work is part of a larger project kindly supported by research grants from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and we are grateful for this support. We are particularly thankful to Johannes Matschke and Sarah Quincy for outstanding research assistance. We received helpful comments from Thomas Mertens. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are solely the responsibility of the authors and should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, or the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Alan M. Taylor
Alan M. Taylor has served as an author, consultant, or speaker for various research organizations, policy making institutions, and financial sector firms. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor at PIMCO.