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- A dynamic programming approach to constrained portfolios (2012)
- This paper studies constrained portfolio problems that may involve constraints on the probability or the expected size of a shortfall of wealth or consumption. Our first contribution is that we solve the problems by dynamic programming, which is in contrast to the existing literature that applies the martingale method. More precisely, we construct the non-separable value function by formalizing the optimal constrained terminal wealth to be a (conjectured) contingent claim on the optimal non-constrained terminal wealth. This is relevant by itself, but also opens up the opportunity to derive new solutions to constrained problems. As a second contribution, we thus derive new results for non-strict constraints on the shortfall of inter¬mediate wealth and/or consumption.

- Asset pricing and consumption-portfolio choice with recursive utility and unspanned risk : [version 1 june 2014] (2014)
- We study consumption-portfolio and asset pricing frameworks with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. We show that in both cases, portfolio choice and asset pricing, the value function of the investor/representative agent can be characterized by a specific semilinear partial differential equation. To date, the solution to this equation has mostly been approximated by Campbell-Shiller techniques, without addressing general issues of existence and uniqueness. We develop a novel approach that rigorously constructs the solution by a fixed point argument. We prove that under regularity conditions a solution exists and establish a fast and accurate numerical method to solve consumption-portfolio and asset pricing problems with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. Our setting is not restricted to affine asset price dynamics. Numerical examples illustrate our approach.

- Asset pricing and consumption-portfolio choice with recursive utility and unspanned risk : [version 4 august 2014] (2014)
- We study consumption-portfolio and asset pricing frameworks with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. We show that in both cases, portfolio choice and asset pricing, the value function of the investor/ representative agent can be characterized by a specific semilinear partial differential equation. To date, the solution to this equation has mostly been approximated by Campbell-Shiller techniques, without addressing general issues of existence and uniqueness. We develop a novel approach that rigorously constructs the solution by a fixed point argument. We prove that under regularity conditions a solution exists and establish a fast and accurate numerical method to solve consumption-portfolio and asset pricing problems with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. Our setting is not restricted to affine asset price dynamics. Numerical examples illustrate our approach.

- Asset pricing under uncertainty about shock propagation : [version 18 november 2013] (2013)
- We analyze the equilibrium in a two-tree (sector) economy with two regimes. The output of each tree is driven by a jump-diffusion process, and a downward jump in one sector of the economy can (but need not) trigger a shift to a regime where the likelihood of future jumps is generally higher. Furthermore, the true regime is unobservable, so that the representative Epstein-Zin investor has to extract the probability of being in a certain regime from the data. These two channels help us to match the stylized facts of countercyclical and excessive return volatilities and correlations between sectors. Moreover, the model reproduces the predictability of stock returns in the data without generating consumption growth predictability. The uncertainty about the state also reduces the slope of the term structure of equity. We document that heterogeneity between the two sectors with respect to shock propagation risk can lead to highly persistent aggregate price-dividend ratios. Finally, the possibility of jumps in one sector triggering higher overall jump probabilities boosts jump risk premia while uncertainty about the regime is the reason for sizeable diffusive risk premia.

- Consumption and wage humps in a life-cycle model with education : [version 11 june 2014] (2014)
- he observed hump-shaped life-cycle pattern in individuals' consumption cannot be explained by the classical consumption-savings model. We explicitly solve a model with utility of both consumption and leisure and with educational decisions affecting future wages. We show optimal consumption is hump shaped and determine the peak age. The hump results from consumption and leisure being substitutes and from the implicit price of leisure being decreasing over time; more leisure means less education, which lowers future wages, and the present value of foregone wages decreases with age. Consumption is hump shaped whether the wage is hump shaped or increasing over life.

- Consumption habits and humps : [Version 23 June 2013] (2013)
- We show that the optimal consumption of an individual over the life cycle can have the hump shape (inverted U-shape) observed empirically if the preferences of the individual exhibit internal habit formation. In the absence of habit formation, an impatient individual would prefer a decreasing consumption path over life. However, because of habit formation, a high initial consumption would lead to high required consumption in the future. To cover the future required consumption, wealth is set aside, but the necessary amount decreases with age which allows consumption to increase in the early part of life. At some age, the impatience outweighs the habit concerns so that consumption starts to decrease. We derive the optimal consumption strategy in closed form, deduce sufficient conditions for the presence of a consumption hump, and characterize the age at which the hump occurs. Numerical examples illustrate our findings. We show that our model calibrates well to U.S. consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

- Financing asset growth (2012)
- We document the existence of a debt anomaly that is in addition to the asset growth anomaly: for a given asset growth rate, firms that issue more debt, as well as firms that retire more debt, have lower stock returns in the 12 months starting 6 months after the calendar year of asset growth. Exploring the reasons for debt issuance, we find that managers of firms for which analyst expectations are more over-optimistic, which suffer from declining investment profitability, and whose earnings-price ratios are relatively high are inclined to rely more heavily on debt financing. On the other hand, firms that retire more debt for a given asset growth rate tend to have improving profitability but to be over-priced. We also find that the financing decision is influenced by the prior debt ratio, the asset growth rate, profitability, and CEO pay sensitivity. We interpret our results in terms of managerial incentives, signaling, and market timing.

- Financing asset growth : [version 11 august 2013] (2013)
- In this paper we provide new evidence that corporate financing decisions are associated with managerial incentives to report high equity earnings. Managers rely most heavily on debt to finance their asset growth when their future earnings prospects are poor, when they are under pressure due to past declines in earnings, negative past stock returns, and excessively optimistic analyst earnings forecasts, and when the earnings yield is high relative to bond yields so that from an accounting perspective equity is ‘expensive’. Managers of high debt issuing firms are more likely to be newly appointed and also more likely to be replaced in subsequent years. Abnormal returns on portfolios formed on the basis of asset growth and debt issuance are strongly positively associated with the contemporaneous changes in returns on assets and on equity as well as with earnings surprises. This may account for the finding that debt issuance forecasts negative abnormal returns, since debt issuance also forecasts negative changes in returns on assets and on equity and negative earnings surprises. Different mechanisms appear to be at work for firms that retire debt.

- Foundations of continuous-time recursive utility : differentiability and normalization of certainty equivalents (2009)
- This paper relates recursive utility in continuous time to its discrete-time origins and provides a rigorous and intuitive alternative to a heuristic approach presented in [Duffie, Epstein 1992], who formally define recursive utility in continuous time via backward stochastic differential equations (stochastic differential utility). Furthermore, we show that the notion of Gâteaux differentiability of certainty equivalents used in their paper has to be replaced by a different concept. Our approach allows us to address the important issue of normalization of aggregators in non-Brownian settings. We show that normalization is always feasible if the certainty equivalent of the aggregator is of expected utility type. Conversely, we prove that in general L´evy frameworks this is essentially also necessary, i.e. aggregators that are not of expected utility type cannot be normalized in general. Besides, for these settings we clarify the relationship of our approach to stochastic differential utility and, finally, establish dynamic programming results. JEL Classifications: D81, D91, C61

- Growth options and firm valuation (2013)
- This paper studies the relation between firm value and a firm's growth options. We find strong empirical evidence that (average) Tobin's Q increases with firm-level volatility. However, the significance mainly comes from R&D firms, which have more growth options than non-R&D firms. By decomposing firm-level volatility into its systematic and unsystematic part, we also document that only idiosyncratic volatility (ivol) has a significant effect on valuation. Second, we analyze the relation of stock returns to realized contemporaneous idiosyncratic volatility and R&D expenses. Single sorting according to the size of idiosyncratic volatility, we only find a significant ivol anomaly for non-R&D portfolios, whereas in a four-factor model the portfolio alphas of R&D portfolios are all positive. Double sorting on idiosyncratic volatility and R&D expenses also reveals these differences between R&D and non-R&D firms. To simultaneously control for several explanatory variables, we also run panel regressions of portfolio alphas which confirm the relative importance of idiosyncratic volatility that is amplified by R&D expenses.