Time-varying beta: A boundedly rational equlibrium approach

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Journal Article
Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2013, 23 (3), pp. 609 - 639
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The conditional CAPM with time-varying betas has been widely used to explain the cross-section of asset returns. However, most of the literature on time-varying beta is motivated by econometric estimation using various latent risk factors rather than explicit modelling of the stochastic behaviour of betas through agents behaviour, such as momentum trading. Misspecification of beta risk and the lack of any theoretical guidance on how to specify risk factors based on the representative agent economy appear empirically challenging. In this paper, we set up a dynamic equilibrium model of a financial market with boundedly rational and heterogeneous agents within the mean-variance framework of repeated one-period optimisation and develop an explicit dynamic behaviour CAPM relation between the expected equilibrium returns and time-varying betas. By incorporating the two most commonly used types of investors, fundamentalists and chartists, into the model, we show that there is a systematic change in the market portfolio, risk-return relationships, and time varying betas when investors change their behaviour, such as the chartists acting as momentum traders. In particular, we demonstrate the stochastic nature of time-varying betas. We also show that the commonly used rolling window estimates of time-varying betas may not be consistent with the ex-ante betas implied by the equilibrium model. The results provide a number of insights into an understanding of time-varying beta.
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