Theses Doctoral

Three Essays on Asset Pricing

Chen, Bingxu

The first essay examines whether risk is explained based on cash flow (CF) or discount rate (DR). Realized returns comprise (ex-ante) expected returns plus (ex-post) innovations, and consequently both expected returns and returns innovations can be broken down into components reflecting fluctuations in CF and DR. I use a present-value model to identify the CF and DR risk factors which are latent from the time series and cross sections of price-dividend ratios.
This setup accommodates models where CF risk dominates, like Bansal and Yaron (2004), and models where DR risk dominates, like Campbell and Cochrane (1999). I estimate the model on portfolios, which capture several of the most common cross-sectional anomalies, and decompose the expected and
unexpected returns into CF and DR components along both time-series and cross-sectional dimensions. I find that (1) the DR risk is more likely to explain the variations of expected returns, (2) the CF risk drives the variations of unexpected returns, and (3) together they account for over 80% of the cross-sectional variance of the average stock returns.
The second essay develops a liability driven investment framework that incorporates downside risk penalties for not meeting liabilities. The shortfall between the asset and liabilities can be valued as an option which swaps the value of the endogenously determined optimal portfolio for the value of the liabilities. The optimal portfolio selection exhibits endogenous risk aversion and as the funding ratio deviates from the fully funded case in both directions, effective risk aversion decreases. When funding is low, the manager "swings for the fences" to take on risk, betting on the chance that liabilities can be covered. Over-funded plans also can afford to take on more risk as liabilities are already
well covered and so invest aggressively in risky securities.
The third essay introduces a methodology to estimate the historical time series of returns to investment in private equity. The approach is quite general, requires only an unbalanced panel of cash contributions and distributions accruing to limited partners, and is robust to sparse data. We decompose private equity returns into a component due to traded factors and a time-varying
private equity premium. We find strong cyclicality in the premium component that differs according to fund type. The time-series estimates allow us to directly test theories about private equity cyclicality, and we find evidence in favor of the Kaplan and Strmberg (2009) hypothesis that capital market segmentation helps to determine the private equity premium.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Ang, Andrew
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 23, 2014