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THE EQUITY PREMIUM AND RISK-FREE RATE PUZZLES IN A TURBULENT ECONOMY: EVIDENCE FROM 105 YEARS OF DATA FROM SOUTH AFRICA

Authors


  • We are grateful to Colin Firer for kindly providing us the data for this study, as well as his comments; to the editor and two anonymous referees for the South African Journal of Economics; to an anonymous referee for the Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) working paper series; and to Nicola Viegi and seminar participants at the ERSA/South African Savings Institute conference, held at the South African Reserve Bank in August 2009, for helpful comments and suggestions. The authors are responsible for any remaining errors, of course. Financial support from ERSA is gratefully acknowledged.

Senior Lecturer, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa. E-mail: Shakill.Hassan@uct.ac.za

Abstract

This paper presents a detailed empirical examination of the South African equity premium, and a quantitative theoretic exercise to test the canonical inter-temporal consumption-based asset-pricing model under power utility. Over the long run, the South African stock market produced average returns six to eight percentage points above bonds and cash, and at the 20-year horizon, an investor would not have experienced a single negative realised equity premium over the entire 105-year period we examine. Yet the maximum equity premium rationalised by the consumption-based model is 0.4%. The canonical macro-financial model closely matches the average risk-free rate, using realistic parameters for the coefficient of risk aversion and a positive rate of time preference.

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