Endogenous Uncertainty and Market Volatility

Maurizio Motolese, Mordecai Kurz

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

In this paper we advance the theory that the distribution of beliefs in the market is the most important propagation mechanism of economic volatility. Our model is based on the theory of Rational Beliefs (RB) and Rational Belief Equilibrium (RBE) developed by Kurz [1994], [1997]. The paper argues that most of the observed volatility in financial markets is generated by the beliefs of the agents and the diverse market puzzles which are examined in this paper, such as the equity premium puzzle, are all driven by the structure of market expectations. To make the case in support of our view, we present a single RBE model with which we study a list of phenomena that have been viewed as "anomalies" in financial markets. The model is able to predict the correct order of magnitude of: (i) the long term mean and standard deviation of the price\dividend ratio; (ii) the long term mean and standard deviation of the risky rate of return on equities; (iii) the long term mean and standard deviation of the riskless rate; (iv) the long term mean equity premium. In addition, the model predicts (v) the GARCH property of risky asset returns; (vi) the observed pattern of the predictability of long returns on assets; (vii) the Forward Discount Bias in foreign exchange markets. The common economic explanation for these phenomena is the existence of heterogenous agents with diverse but correlated beliefs. Given such diversity, some agents are optimistic and some pessimistic about future capital gains. We develop a simple model which allows agents to be in these two states of belief but the identity of the optimists and the pessimists fluctuates over time since any agent may be in these two states of belief at any date. In this model there is a unique parameterization under which the model makes all the above predictions simultaneously. Any parameter choice in this small neighborhood requires the optimists to be in the majority but the rationality of belief conditions of the RBE require the pessimists to have a higher intensity level. This higher intensity has a decisive effect on the market: it increases the demand for riskless assets, decreases the equilibrium riskless rate and increases the equity premium. In simple terms, the large equity premium and the lower equilibrium riskless rate are the result of the fact that at any moment of time there are agents who hold extreme pessimistic beliefs and they have a relatively stronger impact on the market. The relative impact of these two groups of agents who are, at any date, in the two states of belief is a direct consequence of the rationality of belief conditions and in that sense it is unique to an RBE. The paper also studies the effect of correlation of beliefs among investors. It shows that the main effect of such correlation is on the dynamic patterns of asset prices and returns and is hence important for studying such phenomena as stochastic volatility.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages67
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Discount Bond
  • Endogenous Uncertainty
  • Equity premium
  • Forward discount bias
  • Garch
  • Market Volatility
  • Rational Belief Equilibrium
  • Rational Beliefs
  • Rational Expectations
  • States of Belief
  • Stock Price

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