Generalized Robustness and Dynamic Pessimism
NBER Working Paper No. 26970
This paper develops a theory of dynamic pessimism and its impact on asset prices. Notions of time-varying pessimism arise endogenously in our setting as a consequence of agents’ concern for model misspecification. We generalize the robust control approach of Hansen and Sargent (2001) by replacing relative entropy as a measure of discrepancy between models by the more general family of Cressie-Read discrepancies. As a consequence, the decision-maker’s distorted beliefs appear as an endogenous state variable driving risk aversion, portfolio decisions, and equilibrium asset prices. Using survey data, we estimate time-varying pessimism and find that such a proxy features a strong business cycle component. We then show that using our measure of pessimism helps match salient features in equity markets such as excess volatility and high equity premium.
You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26970