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- Systemic risk in the financial sector: what can we learn from option markets? : [version 12 july 2013] (2014)
- In this paper, we propose a novel approach on how to estimate systemic risk and identify its key determinants. For all US financial companies with publicly traded equity options, we extract their option-implied value-at-risks (VaRs) and measure the spillover effects between individual company VaRs and the option-implied VaR of an US financial index. First, we study the spillover effect of increasing company risks on the financial sector. Second, we analyze which companies are most affected if the tail risk of the financial sector increases. We find that key accounting and market valuation metrics such as size, leverage, balance sheet composition, market-to-book ratio and earnings have a significant influence on the systemic risk profile of a financial institution. In contrast to earlier studies, the employed panel vector autoregression (PVAR) estimator allows for a causal interpretation of the results.

- Life insurance demand under health shock risk : [Version: 7 February 2014] (2014)
- This paper studies the life cycle consumption-investment-insurance problem of a family. The wage earner faces the risk of a health shock that significantly increases his probability of dying. The family can buy term life insurance with realistic features. In particular, the available contracts are long term so that decisions are sticky and can only be revised at significant costs. Furthermore, a revision is only possible as long as the insured person is healthy. A second important and realistic feature of our model is that the labor income of the wage earner is unspanned. We document that the combination of unspanned labor income and the stickiness of insurance decisions reduces the insurance demand significantly. This is because an income shock induces the need to reduce the insurance coverage, since premia become less affordable. Since such a reduction is costly and families anticipate these potential costs, they buy less protection at all ages. In particular, young families stay away from life insurance markets altogether.

- 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.

- The dynamics of crises and the equity premium (2014)
- There has been a considerable debate about whether disaster models can rationalize the equity premium puzzle. This is because empirically disasters are not single extreme events, but long-lasting periods in which moderate negative consumption growth realizations cluster. Our paper proposes a novel way to explain this stylized fact. By allowing for consumption drops that can spark an economic crisis, we introduce a new economic channel that combines long-run and short-run risk. First, we document that our model can match consumption data of several countries. Second, it generates a large equity risk premium even if consumption drops are of moderate size.

- 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.

- 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.

- Systemic risk in the financial sector: what can we learn from option markets? : [version 10 february 2014] (2014)
- We propose a novel approach on how to estimate systemic risk and identify its key determinants. For US financial companies with publicly traded equity options, we extract option-implied value-at-risks and measure the spillover effects between individual company value-at-risks and the option-implied value-at-risk of a financial index. First, we study the spillover effect of increasing company risks on the financial sector. Second, we analyze which companies are mostly affected if the tail risk of the financial sector increases. Key metrics such as size, leverage, market-to-book ratio and earnings have a significant influence on the systemic risk profiles of financial institutions.

- 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.

- How does contagion affect general equilibrium asset prices? : [Version: March 13, 2013] (2013)
- This paper analyzes the equilibrium pricing implications of contagion risk in a Lucas-tree economy with recursive preferences and jumps. We introduce a new economic channel allowing for the possibility that endowment shocks simultaneously trigger a regime shift to a bad economic state. We document that these contagious jumps have far-reaching asset pricing implications. The risk premium for such shocks is superadditive, i.e. it is 2.5\% larger than the sum of the risk premia for pure endowment shocks and regime switches. Moreover, contagion risk reduces the risk-free rate by around 0.5\%. We also derive semiclosed-form solutions for the wealth-consumption ratio and the price-dividend ratios in an economy with two Lucas trees and analyze cross-sectional effects of contagion risk qualitatively. We find that heterogeneity among the assets with respect to contagion risk can increase risk premia disproportionately. In particular, big assets with a large exposure to contagious shocks carry significantly higher risk premia.

- 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.