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Realistic Returns for Investing in the Stock Market

November 29, 2021 • Posted in Equity Premium

Is the conventional way of estimating the equity risk premium based on total shareholder return (TSR, assuming reinvestment of all dividends into stocks) reasonable? In their November 2021 paper entitled “Stock Investors’ Returns are Exaggerated”, Jesse Fried, Paul Ma and Charles Wang examine the realism of TSR as a measure of aggregate U.S. equity investor performance and therefore as the basis for U.S. equity premium estimation. They define an alternative all-shareholder return (ASR) that explicitly incorporates feasible reinvestment possibilities for cash distributions. Specifically, ASR:

  • Rejects the infeasible total dividend reinvestment assumption and alternatively assumes shareholders reallocate dividends into U.S. Treasuries of different maturities, corporate bonds or housing.
  • Takes into account all sources of cash flows from firms to investors, including repurchases and equity issuances (net distributions).

Using monthly estimated returns and cash distributions for the U.S. stock market and returns for the specified alternatives for cash distribution during January 1926 through December 2015, they find that: (more…)

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