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Uncertainty plays a key role in economics, finance, and decision sciences. Financial markets, in particular derivative markets, provide fertile ground for understanding how perceptions of economic uncertainty and cash flow risk manifest themselves in asset prices. The authors demonstrate that the variance premium, defined as the difference between the squared VIX index and expected realized variance, captures attitudes toward uncertainty. They show conditions under which the variance premium displays significant time variation and return predictability. A calibrated, generalized Long-Run Risks model generates a variance premium with time variation and return predictability that is consistent with the data, while simultaneously matching the levels and volatilities of the market return and risk free rate.
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