The equity premium, namely the expected return on the aggregate stock market less the government bill rate, is of central importance to the portfolio allocation of individuals, to the investment decisions of firms, and to model calibration and testing. This quantity is usually estimated from the sample average excess return. We propose an alternative esti- mator, based on maximum likelihood, that takes into account informa- tion contained in dividends and prices. Applied to the postwar sample, our method leads to an economically significant reduction from 6.4% to 5.1%. Simulation results show that our method produces more reliable estimates under a wide range of specifications.
Contrary to the Black-Scholes model, volatilities implied by index option prices depend on the exercise price of the option and are often higher than realized volatilities. We explain both facts in the context of a model that can also explain the mean and volatility of equity returns. Our model assumes a small risk of a rare disaster that is calibrated based on the international data on large consumption declines. We allow the risk of this rare disaster to be stochastic, which turns out to be crucial to the model’s ability to explain both equity volatility and option prices. We explore different specifications for the stochastic rare disaster probability and show that the data favor a multifrequency process. Finally, we show that the model can simultaneously fit the time series of option prices and equities.
What is the driving force behind the cyclical behavior of unemployment and vacancies? What is the relation between job-creation incentives of firms and stock market valuations? We answer these questions in a model with time-varying risk, modeled as a small and variable probability of an economic disaster. A high probability implies greater risk and lower future growth, lowering the incentives of firms to invest in hiring. During periods of high risk, stock market valuations are low and unemployment rises. The model thus explains volatility in equity and labor markets, and the relation between the two.