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Shortfall aversion reflects the higher utility loss of a spending cut from a reference point than the utility gain from a similar spending increase, in the spirit of Prospect Theory's loss aversion. …

Shortfall aversion reflects the higher utility loss of a spending cut from a reference point than the utility gain from a similar spending increase, in the spirit of Prospect Theory's loss aversion. This paper posits a model of utility of spending scaled by a function of past peak spending, called target spending. The discontinuity of the marginal utility at the target spending corresponds to shortfall aversion. According to the closed-form solution of the associated spending-investment problem, (i) the spending rate is constant and equals the historical peak for relatively large values of wealth/target; and (ii) the spending rate increases (and the target with it) when that ratio reaches its model-determined upper bound. These features contrast with traditional Merton-style models which call for spending rates proportional to wealth. A simulation using the 1926-2012 realized returns suggests that spending of the very shortfall averse is typically increasing and very smooth.

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- 1. Model Solution Under the Hood Spending and Investment for Shortfall Averse Endowments Paolo Guasoni1,2 Gur Huberman3 Dan Ren4 Boston University1 Dublin City University2 Columbia Business School3 University of Dayton4 Mathematical Finance and Partial Differential Equations 2013 November 1st , 2013
- 2. Model Solution Under the Hood Tobin (1974) • "The trustees of an endowed institution are the guardians of the future against the claims of the present. • "Their task is to preserve equity among generations. • "The trustees of an endowed university like my own assume the institution to be immortal. • "They want to know, therefore, the rate of consumption from endowment which can be sustained indeﬁnitely. • "Sustainable consumption is their conception of permanent endowment income. • "In formal terms, the trustees are supposed to have a zero subjective rate of time preference."
- 3. Model Solution Under the Hood Outline • Motivation: Endowment Management. Universities, sovereign funds, trust funds. Retirement planning? • Model: Constant investment opportunities. Constant Relative Risk and Shortfall Aversion. • Result: Optimal spending and investment.
- 4. Model Solution Under the Hood Endowment Management • How to invest? How much to withdraw? • Major goal: keep spending level. • Minor goal: increasing it. • Increasing and then decreasing spending is worse than not increasing in the ﬁrst place. • How to capture this feature? • Heuristic rule among endowments and private foundations: spend a constant proportion of the moving average of assets.
- 5. Model Solution Under the Hood Theory • Classical Merton model: maximize E ∞ 0 e−βt c1−γ t 1 − γ dt over spending rate ct and wealth in stocks Ht . • Optimal ct and Ht are constant fractions of current wealth Xt : c X = 1 γ β + 1 − 1 γ r + µ2 2γσ2 H X = µ γσ2 with interest rate r, equity premium µ, and stocks volatility σ. • Spending as volatile as wealth. • Want stable spending? Hold nearly no stocks. But then ct ≈ rXt . • Not easy with interest rates near zero. Not used by ﬁnancial planners.
- 6. Model Solution Under the Hood The Four-Percent Rule • Bengen (1994). Popular with ﬁnancial planners. • When you retire, spend in the ﬁrst year 4% of your savings. Keep same amount for future years. Invest 50% to 75% in stocks. • Historically, savings will last at least 30 years. • Inconsistent with theory. Spending-wealth ratio variable, but portfolio weight ﬁxed. Bankruptcy possible. • Time-inconsistent. With equal initial capital, consume more if retired in Dec 2007 than if retired in Dec 2008. But savings will always be lower. • How to embed preference for stable spending in objective?
- 7. Model Solution Under the Hood Related Literature • Consumption ratcheting: allow only increasing spending rates... Dybvig (1995), Bayraktar and Young (2008), Riedel (2009). • ...or force maximum drawdown on consumption from its peak. Thillaisundaram (2012). • Consume less than interest, or bankruptcy possible. No solvency with zero interest. • Habit formation: utility from consumption minus habit. Sundaresan (1989), Constantinides (1990), Detemple and Zapatero (1992), Campbell and Cochrane (1999), Detemple and Karatzas (2003). max E ∞ 0 e−βt (ct − xt )1−γ 1 − γ dt where dxt = (bct − axt )dt • Inﬁnite marginal utility at habit level. Like zero consumption. No solution if habit too high relative to wealth (x0 > X0(r + a − b)). • Habit transitory. Time heals.
- 8. Model Solution Under the Hood This Paper • Inputs • Risky asset follows geometric Brownian motion. Constant interest rate. • Constant relative risk aversion. Constant relative shortfall aversion by new parameter α. • Outputs • Spending constant between endogenous boundaries, bliss and gloom. Increases in small amounts at bliss. Declines smoothly at gloom. • Portfolio weight varies between high and low bounds. • Features • Solution solvent for any initial capital. Even with zero interest. • Spending target permanent. You never forget.
- 9. Model Solution Under the Hood Shortfall Aversion and Prospect Theory • Kanheman and Tversky (1979,1991). Precursor: Markowitz (1952). • Reference dependence: utility is from gains and losses relative to reference level. • Loss Aversion: marginal utility lower for gains than for losses. • Prospect theory focuses on wealth gambles. • We bring these features to spending instead. Shortfall aversion as losses aversion for spending.
- 10. Model Solution Under the Hood Model • Safe rate r. Risky asset price follows geometric Brownian motion: dSt St = µdt + σdWt for Brownian Motion (Wt )t≥0 with natural ﬁltration (Ft )t≥0. • Utility from consumption rate ct : E ∞ 0 (ct /hα t ) 1−γ 1 − γ dt where ht = sup 0≤s≤t cs • Risk aversion γ > 1 to make the problem well posed. • α ∈ [0, 1) relative loss aversion. Strict monotonicity in c implies that α < 1 and strict concavity that α ≥ 0. • If you could forget the past you would be happier. But you can’t. • More is better today... but makes less worse tomorrow. • No loss aversion with ct increasing... or decreasing.
- 11. Model Solution Under the Hood Sliding Kink • Because ct ≤ ht , utility effectively has a kink at ht : h c UHc,hL • Optimality: marginal utilities of spending and wealth equal. • Spending ht optimal for marginal utility of wealth between left and right derivative at kink. • State variable: ratio ht /Xt between reference spending and wealth. • Investor rich when ht /Xt low, and poor when ht /Xt high.
- 12. Model Solution Under the Hood Control Argument • Value function V(x, h) depends on wealth x = Xt and target h = ht . • Set Jt = t 0 U(cs, hs)ds + V(Xt , ht ). By Itô’s formula: dJt = L(Xt , πt , ct , ht )dt + Vh(Xt , ht )dht + Vx (Xt , ht )Xt πt σdWt where drift L(Xt , πt , ct , ht ) equals U(ct , ht ) + (Xt rt − ct + Xt πt µ)Vx (Xt , ht ) + Vxx (Xt , ht ) 2 X2 t πt Σπt • Jt supermartingale for any c, and martingale for optimizer ˆc. Hence: max(sup π,c L(x, π, c, h), Vh(x, h)) = 0 • That is, either supπ,c L(x, π, c, h) = 0, or Vh(x, h) = 0. • Optimal portfolio has usual expression ˆπ = − Vx xVxx Σ−1 µ. • Free-boundaries: When do you increase spending? When do you cut it below ht ?
- 13. Model Solution Under the Hood Duality • Setting ˜U(y, h) = supc≥0[U(c, h) − cy], HJB equation becomes ˜U(Vx , h) + xrVx (x, h) − V2 x (x, h) 2Vxx (x, h) µ Σ−1 µ = 0 • Nonlinear equation. Linear in dual ˜V(y, h) = supx≥0[V(x, h) − xy] ˜U(y, h) − ry ˜Vy + µ Σ−1 µ 2 y2 ˜Vyy = 0 • Plug U(c, h) = (c/hα )1−γ 1−γ . Kink spawns two cases: ˜U(y, h) = h1−γ∗ 1 − γ − hy if (1 − α)h−γ∗ ≤ y ≤ h−γ∗ (yhα )1−1/γ 1−1/γ if y > h−γ∗ where γ∗ = α + (1 − α)γ.
- 14. Model Solution Under the Hood Homogeneity • V(λx, λh) = λ1−γ∗ V(x, h) implies that ˜V(y, h) = h1−γ∗ q(z), where z = yhγ∗ . • HJB equation reduces to: µ Σ−1 µ 2 z2 q (z) − rzq (z) = z − 1 1−γ 1 − α ≤ z ≤ 1 z1−1/γ 1−1/γ z > 1 • Condition Vh(x, h) = 0 holds when desired spending must increase: (1 − γ∗ )q(z) + γ∗ zq (z) = 0 for z ≤ 1 − α • Agent “rich” for z ∈ [1 − α, 1]. Consumes at desired level, and increases it at bliss point 1 − α. • Agent becomes “poor” at gloom point 1. For z > 1, consumes below desired level.
- 15. Model Solution Under the Hood Solving it • For r = 0, q(z) has solution: q(z) = C21 + C22z 1+ 2r µ Σ−1µ − z r + 2 log z (1−γ)(2r+µ Σ−1µ) if 0 < z ≤ 1, C31 + γ (1−γ)δ0 z1−1/γ if z > 1, where δα deﬁned shortly. • Neumann condition at z = 1 − α: (1 − γ∗ )q(z) + γ∗ zq (z) = 0. • Value matching at z = 1: q(z−) = q(z+). • Smooth-pasting at z = 1: q (z−) = q (z+). • Fourth condition? • Intuitively, it should be at z = ∞. • Marginal utility z inﬁnite when wealth x is zero. • Since q (z) = −x/h, the condition is limz→∞ q (z) = 0.
- 16. Model Solution Under the Hood Main Quantities • Ratio between safe rate and half squared Sharpe ratio: ρ = 2r (µ/σ)2 In practice, ρ is small ≈ 8%. • Gloom ratio g (as wealth/target). 1/g coincides with Merton ratio: 1 g = 1 − 1 γ r + µ2 2γσ2 • Bliss ratio: b = g (γ − 1)(1 − α)ρ+1 + (γρ + 1)(α(γ − 1)(ρ + 1) − γ(ρ + 1) + 1) (α − 1)γ2ρ(ρ + 1) • For ρ small, limit: g b ≈ 1 − α 1 − α + α γ2 − 1 γ (1 − 1 γ )(1 − α) log(1 − α) Ratio insensitive to market parameters, for typical investment opportunities.
- 17. Model Solution Under the Hood Main Result Theorem For r = 0, the optimal spending policy is: ˆct = Xt /b if ht ≤ Xt /b ht if Xt /b ≤ ht ≤ Xt /g Xt /g if ht ≥ Xt /g (1) The optimal weight of the risky asset is the Merton risky asset weight when the wealth to target ratio is lower than the gloom point, Xt /ht ≤ g. Otherwise, i.e., when Xt /ht ≥ g the weight of the risky asset is ˆπt = ρ γρ + (γ − 1)zρ+1 + 1 (γρ + 1)(ρ + (γ − 1)(ρ + 1)z) − (γ − 1)zρ+1 µ σ2 (2) where the variable z satisﬁes the equation: (γρ + 1)(ρ + (γ − 1)(ρ + 1)z) − (γ − 1)zρ+1 (γ − 1)(ρ + 1)rz(γρ + 1) = x h (3)
- 18. Model Solution Under the Hood Bliss and Gloom – α gloom bliss 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 Shortfall Aversion Spending•WealthRatioH%L µ/σ = 0.4, γ = 2, r = 1%
- 19. Model Solution Under the Hood Bliss and Gloom • Gloom ratio independent of the shortfall aversion α, and its inverse equals the Merton consumption rate. • Bliss ratio increases as the shortfall aversion α increases. • Within the target region, the optimal investment policy is independent of the shortfall aversion α. • At α = 0 the model degenerates to the Merton model and b = g, i.e., the bliss and the gloom points coincide. At α = 1 the bliss point is inﬁnity, i.e., shortfall aversion is so strong that the solution calls for no spending increases at all.
- 20. Model Solution Under the Hood Spending and Investment as Target/Wealth Varies Bliss Gloom 1 2 3 4 5 Wealth•Target Spending•Wealth 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 PortfolioWeight µ/
- 21. Model Solution Under the Hood Spending and Investment as Wealth/Target Varies BlissGloom 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 Wealth•Target Spending•Wealth 40 45 50 55 60 65 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 PortfolioWeight Spending constant at target µ/
- 22. Model Solution Under the Hood Investment – α a = .25 a = 0.5 a = 0.75 a = 0 20 40 60 80 100 90 100 110 120 130 140 Wealth•Target Portfolio
- 23. Model Solution Under the Hood Steady State Theorem • The long-run average time spent in the target zone is a fraction 1 − (1 − α)1+ρ of the total time. This fraction is approximately α because reasonable values of ρ are close to zero. • Starting from a point z0 ∈ [0, 1] in the target region, the expected time before reaching gloom is Ex,h[τgloom] = ρ (ρ + 1)r log(z0) − (1 − α)−ρ−1 zρ+1 0 − 1 ρ + 1 In particular, starting from bliss (z0 = 1 − α) and for small ρ, Ex,h[τgloom] = ρ r α 1 − α + log(1 − α) + O(ρ2 )
- 24. Model Solution Under the Hood Time Spent at Target – α 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 Loss Aversion PortionofConstantConsumption µ/σ = 0.35, γ = 2, r = 1%
- 25. Model Solution Under the Hood Time from Bliss to Gloom – α 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Loss Aversion ExpectedHittingTimeatGloom µ/σ = 0.35, γ = 2, r = 1%
- 26. Model Solution Under the Hood Under the Hood • With ∞ 0 U(ct , ht )dt, ﬁrst-order condition is: Uc(ct , ht ) = yMt where Mt = e−(r+µ Σ−1 µ/2)t−µ Σ−1 Wt is stochastic discount factor. • Candidate ct = I(yMt , ht ) with I(y, h) = U−1 c (y, h). But what is ht ? • ht increases only at bliss. And at bliss Uc independent of past maximum: ht = c0 ∨ y−1/γ inf s≤t Ms −1/γ
- 27. Model Solution Under the Hood Duality Bound • For any spending plan ct : E ∞ 0 (ct /ht α )1−γ 1 − γ dt ≤ x1−γ 1 − γ E ∞ 0 Z∗ 1−1/γ t ˜u Zt Z∗t dt γ where Zt = Mt and Z∗t = infs≤t Zs, and ˜U(y, h) = −h1−1/γ 1−1/γ ˜u(yhγ ). • Show that equality holds for candidate optimizer. Lemma For γ > 1, limT↑∞ Ex,h ˜V(yMT , ˆht (y)) = 0 for all y ≥ 0. • Estimates on Brownian motion and its running maximum.
- 28. Model Solution Under the Hood Thank You!

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