The Private Equity Premium Puzzle Revisited

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In this paper, I extend the results of Moskowitz and Vissing-Jørgensen (2002) on the returns to entrepreneurial investments in the United States. First, following the authors’ methodology I replicate the original findings from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) for the period 1989–1998 and show that the returns to private and public equity are similar. I then extend the period under consideration using data from subsequently released waves of SCF 2001, 2004, and 2007 and assess the robustness of their results to this extension. I find that the “private equity premium puzzle” is not a robust feature of the data and does not survive beyond the period of high public equity returns in the 1990s. In particular, returns to entrepreneurial equity remain largely unaffected when public equity returns plunge to near zero values between 1999 and 2001. The average return to private equity exceeds public equity return in 1999-2007 and for the period 1989-2007 as a whole. To validate the results, I provide alternative measures of private equity returns in the data.