Changes in investors' risk appetite have been used to explain a variety of phenomena in asset markets. And yet, popular indicators of changes in risk appetite typically have scant foundation in theory, and give contradictory signals in practice. The question is which popular indicator, if any, captures these changes. Kumar and Persaud (2002) offer an intuitively appealing argument regarding the effects of changes in risk appetite on asset prices in a portfolio, and Misina (2003) establishes the conditions under which these effects will be present. The author proposes a method that empirically implements these conditions and thus ensures that the resulting index can identify changes in risk appetite in the data. This index is then used to assess other risk appetite indexes used in practice. An example illustrates how the index can be used to help interpret price movements in foreign exchange markets.

Also published as:

Changing Investors’ Risk Appetite: Reality or Fiction?
The European Journal of Finance (1351-847X)
2008. Vol. 14, Iss. 6, pp. 489-501
Special Issue: Forecasting Financial Markets