Lifecycle investment decisions and labor income risk
The optimal proportion of financial wealth placed in stocks versus risk-free bonds changes over an investor's life and is very sensitive to the long-run correlation between stock returns and labor income. If this correlation is assumed to be high, then the optimal proportion of stock is hump-shaped and approximately zero for young agents, in contrast to the claims of financial advisers and most academic models.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Goldstein, Robert S.
Why Does the Yield-Curve Slope Predict Recessions?
Many studies document the predictive power of the slope of the Treasury yield curve for forecasting recessions.2 This work is motivated, for example, by the empirical evidence in figure 1, which shows the term-structure slope, measured by the spread between the yields on ten-year and two-year U.S. Treasury securities, and shading that denotes U.S. recessions (dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research). Note that the yield-curve slope becomes negative before each economic recession since the 1970s.3 That is, an ?inversion? of the yield curve, in which short-maturity interest rates exceed long-maturity rates, is typically associated with a recession in the near future.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Chyruk, Olena; Kelley, David
Modeling credit contagion via the updating of fragile beliefs
We propose a tractable equilibrium model for pricing defaultable bonds that are subject to contagion risk. Contagion arises because agents with ?fragile beliefs? are uncertain about both the underlying state of the economy and the posterior probabilities associated with these states. As such, agents adopt a robust decision rule for updating that leads them to over-weight the posterior probabilities of ?bad? states. We estimate the model using panel data on sovereign Euro-zone CDS spreads during the recent crisis, and find that it captures levels and dynamics of spreads better than traditional affine models with the same number of observable and latent state variables.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Collin-Dufresne, Pierre; Goldstein, Robert S.; Helwege, Jean
Given the importance of return volatility on a number of practical financial management decisions, the efforts to provide good real- time estimates and forecasts of current and future volatility have been extensive. The main framework used in this context involves stochastic volatility models. In a broad sense, this model class includes GARCH, but we focus on a narrower set of specifications in which volatility follows its own random process, as is common in models originating within financial economics. The distinguishing feature of these specifications is that volatility, being inherently unobservable and subject to independent random shocks, is not measurable with respect to observable information. In what follows, we refer to these models as genuine stochastic volatility models. Much modern asset pricing theory is built on continuous- time models. The natural concept of volatility within this setting is that of genuine stochastic volatility. For example, stochastic-volatility (jump-) diffusions have provided a useful tool for a wide range of applications, including the pricing of options and other derivatives, the modeling of the term structure of risk-free interest rates, and the pricing of foreign currencies and defaultable bonds. The increased use of intraday transaction data for construction of so-called realized volatility measures provides additional impetus for considering genuine stochastic volatility models. As we demonstrate below, the realized volatility approach is closely associated with the continuous-time stochastic volatility framework of financial economics. There are some unique challenges in dealing with genuine stochastic volatility models. For example, volatility is truly latent and this feature complicates estimation and inference. Further, the presence of an additional state variable - volatility - renders the model less tractable from an analytic perspective. We examine how such challenges have been addressed through development of new estimation methods and imposition of model restrictions allowing for closed-form solutions while remaining consistent with the dominant empirical features of the data.
AUTHORS: Andersen, Torben G.; Benzoni, Luca
Asymmetric Information, Dynamic Debt Issuance, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads
We propose a tractable model of a firm?s dynamic debt and equity issuance policies in the presence of asymmetric information. Because ?investment-grade? firms can access debt markets, managers who observe a bad private signal can both conceal this information and shield shareholders from infusing capital into the firm by issuing new debt to service existing debt, thus avoiding default. The implication is that the ?asymmetric information channel? can generate jumps to default (from the creditors? perspective) only for those "high-yield" firms that have exhausted their ability to borrow. Thus, our model deepens the ?credit spread puzzle? for investment-grade firms.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Garlappi, Lorenzo; Goldstein, Robert S.
Explaining asset pricing puzzles associated with the 1987 market crash
The 1987 market crash was associated with a dramatic and permanent steepening of the implied volatility curve for equity index options, despite minimal changes in aggregate consumption. We explain these events within a general equilibrium framework in which expected endowment growth and economic uncertainty are subject to rare jumps. The arrival of a jump triggers the updating of agents' beliefs about the likelihood of future jumps, which produces a market crash and a permanent shift in option prices. Consumption and dividends remain smooth, and the model is consistent with salient features of individual stock options, equity returns, and interest rates.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Collin-Dufresne, Pierre; Goldstein, Robert S.
Portfolio choice over the life-cycle when the stock and labor markets are cointegrated
We study portfolio choice when labor income and dividends are cointegrated. Economically plausible calibrations suggest young investors should take substantial short positions in the stock market. Because of cointegration the young agent's human capital effectively becomes.
AUTHORS: Benzoni, Luca; Collin-Dufresne, Pierre; Goldstein, Robert S.
Core and 'Crust': Consumer Prices and the Term Structure of Interest Rates
We propose a no-arbitrage model that jointly explains the dynamics of consumer prices as well as the nominal and real term structures of risk-free rates. In our framework, distinct core, food, and energy price series combine into a measure of total inflation to price nominal Treasuries. This approach captures different frequencies in inflation fluctuations: Shocks to core are more persistent and less volatile than shocks to food and, especially, energy (the 'crust'). We find that a common structure of latent factors determines and predicts the term structure of yields and inflation. The model outperforms popular benchmarks and is at par with the Survey of Professional Forecasters in forecasting inflation. Real rates implied by our model uncover the presence of a time-varying component in TIPS yields that we attribute to disruptions in the inflation-indexed bond market. Finally, we find a pronounced declining pattern in the inflation risk premium that illustrates the changing nature of inflation risk in nominal Treasuries.
AUTHORS: Ajello, Andrea; Benzoni, Luca; Chyruk, Olena
The Interplay Between Financial Conditions and Monetary Policy Shocks
We study the interplay between monetary policy and financial conditions shocks. Such shocks have a significant and similar impact on the real economy, though with different degrees of persistence. The systematic fed funds rate response to a financial shock contributes to bringing the economy back towards trend, but a zero lower bound on policy rates can prevent this from happening, with a significant cost in terms of output and investment. In a retrospective analysis of the U.S. economy over the past 20 years, we decompose the realization of economic variables into the contributions of financial, monetary policy, and other shocks.
AUTHORS: Bassetto, Marco; Benzoni, Luca; Serrao, Trevor
Investing over the life cycle with long-run labor income risk
Many financial advisors and much of the academic literature often argue that young people should place most of their savings in stocks. In contrast, a significant fraction of U.S. households do not hold stocks. Investors typically hold very little in stocks when they are young, progressively increase their holdings as they age, and decrease their exposure to stock market risk when they approach retirement. The authors show how long-run labor income risk helps explain this evidence. Moreover, they discuss the effect of long-run labor income risk on the valuation of pension plan obligations, their funding, and the allocation of pension assets across different investment classes.
AUTHORS: Chyruk, Olena; Benzoni, Luca