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The Role of Learning in Dynamic Portfolio Decisions”


This paper analyzes the effect of uncertainty about the mean return on the risky asset on the portfolio decisions of an investor who has a long investment horizon. Building on the earlier work of Detemple (1986), Dothan and Feldman (1986), and Gennotte (1986), it is shown that the possibility of future learning about the mean return on the risky asset induces the investor to take a larger or smaller position in the risky asset than she would if there were no learning, the direction of the effect depending on whether the investor is more or less risk tolerant than the logarithmic investor whose portfolio decisions are unaffected by the possibility of future learning. Numerical calculations show that uncertainty about the mean return on the market portfolio has a significant effect on the portfolio decision of an investor with a 20 year horizon if her assessment of the market risk premium is based solely on the Ibbotson and Sinquefield (1995) data.

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